Archive for LibChat

Preparing for a Virtual Semester

Are you ready for a virtual semester?

Academic and School librarians, if you’re feeling uncertain as to what is going to happen this upcoming 2020-2021 academic year… imagine how your students feel. Anxiety and uncertainty are emotions that are part of this ‘new normal’. Will there be f2f classes? Will classrooms be fully or partially virtual? How will assignments be submitted and graded? How will group projects be handled? Where are the classroom, and library, resources? Like you, students have a ton of questions – most of which just can’t be answered right now… except one. Using Springshare’s LTI Tool – you can natively integrate library resources right inside student’s online courses. So the question, “Where do I find the library’s resources?” The answer is, “Right inside your online course!”


Last month we held a virtual webinar showcasing how you can natively integrate library content right inside your Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, Sakai, Desire2Learn, or other LTI-compliant courseware tool. Reducing the amount of clicks a student has to take to find the relevant library resources can not only help to reduce their cognitive load but also their stress and anxiety. And if there’s anything that we all need right now, is one less stressor in our lives.

Library Resources Page inside of Canvas using Springshare LTI Tool

With Springshare’s LTI Tool, natively integrate:

  • Course-specific LibGuides
  • Subject-specific LibGuides Databases
  • Course-related reading materials with LibGuides E-Reserves
  • Subject-expert LibGuides Profiles
  • Live chat widget from LibAnswers (with optional 24/7/365 chat coverage)
  • Book a virtual librarian appointment using LibCal
  • Search library FAQs using LibAnswers
  • … and more.

Is there a recording?

There sure is! This 30 minute recording shows how you can integrate library resources right inside the courseware tool. And the best part, minus a few things your Office of Online Learning needs to setup, all of the controls of what displays are controlled by you! Yes, you get to choose which LibGuides display, which E-Reserves, which subject-databases, and more!

Are you ready for a virtual fall semester webinar

But wait, does this scale across hundreds/thousands of online courses?

Yes it does! If you’re looking at hundreds or thousands of online courses this upcoming semester and wondering, am I going to have to click ‘Add library resources’ thousands of times? The answer is no. Our automagic tool matches on metadata making it easier to integrate library resources across thousands of classes. Don’t believe us – Penn State University uses the Springshare LTI Tool across 30,000 online courses each semester.

Want to learn more?

If you’re interested in learning more, we have loads of resources for you!

  • Training Videos – If you already subscribe to LibGuides CMS or E-Reserves and want to learn how to setup the LTI Tool, these training videos have you covered.
  • Help Documentation – Whether you’re using Blackboard, Canvas, or another LTI-compliant courseware tool… our help documentation has you covered.
  • Get Pricing & Free Trial – If you don’t already subscribe to LibGuides CMS, LibGuides E-Reserves module, or other Springy Tools that integrate with the LTI Tool… contact us for pricing or a free 30-day trial.

Curbside Pickup/Contactless Checkout Options (Blog Series: Part Two)

LibCal and LibAnswers Scheduling and Communication Module for Holds Pickup

Last week’s post on LibCal Seats module generated a great response – thank you all. Our libraries are looking for solutions to help them reopen safely, and we’re excited to be helping with this process. Several current LibCal customers are helping us with the Seats module, so we are confident many of you will find the upcoming module very helpful as you navigate the use of library facilities in a post-COVID-19 world.

We hope you’ll like our curbside pickup/contactless checkout solution just as much. Depending on the particular needs for your library, you can already start utilizing what we have or wait for the upgrade release in the coming 4-5 weeks.


Three Options for Curbside/Contactless Holds Pickups

There will be three options available in LibApps regarding the curbside pickup – which one you will utilize depends on your library’s workflows. You can also start using the first option that’s already available and then expand/move to the other two options as they become available over the summer.

Option 1 – Scheduling of Pickups Only

Libraries using LibCal Spaces module can allocate dedicated spaces for curbside/contactless pickup and customize the setup to serve the need for scheduling of pickups. This functionality is already available in LibCal and you can/should start using it immediately.

We published a blog post on using LibCal Spaces for scheduling contactless/curbside pickup of library holds, and our training sessions on this have been among the most attended this year.

The setup works great and it’s free with your LibCal subscription! If you need to add a few additional Spaces to your LibCal subscription, contact us at sales@springshare.com and we’ll make it happen. If you don’t have LibCal but need a scheduling tool for curbside pickup/contactless checkout, contact us and we’ll work with you on a flexible pricing structure.

For those libraries that also want to add the communication component to holds pickups, we’ve got you covered! We’re building a new module in the coming weeks to help you meet this need.

Option 2 – Scheduling and Communication (or Communication Only) Regarding Pickups

Some of you have asked us come up with the communication process for holds pickups, too! While many libraries are happy with a tool for scheduling of holds pickups, some want to add the communication piece to the worfklows – or only focus on communication piece for holds pickups.

Great idea, we thought, so we’re busy working on an end-to-end solution for holds pickups/contactless checkouts. We are leveraging our expertise with SMS communication, email, and chat functionality from LibAnswers, to come up with a brand-new LibApps module to help libraries schedule and communicate with patrons about curbside pickups/contactless checkouts. This helps avoid miscommunication or missed pickups while also minimizing unnecessary contact with staff. Safety first!

Holds pickup workflow in the new module

  1. The library customizes the ILS holds arrival email template to include the link to LibCal’s curbside pickup scheduler.
  2. The patron receives the “your materials have arrived” email and schedules their pickup time using LibCal’s mobile-first web scheduler. The library controls how many pickup timeslots are available each day and when, to control the flow of users arriving to the library.
  3. LibCal sends a pickup confirmation email with instructions to patron how to communicate with the library when they’ve arrived for their holds.
  4. Upon arrival, the patron sends an SMS text or initiates chat to let the library know they’re here.
  5. The module automatically matches the message with the LibCal scheduled pickup so the librarian knows exactly who is picking up which materials.
  6. The librarian on duty receives the SMS or chat with the LibCal booking information and the patron info, and they drop off the materials at a pre-determined spot (parking space, outside table, front door, etc), as described in their pickup confirmation email.
  7. The system automatically records when the patron has arrived and gathers valuable statistics on patron interactions for follow ups, to help identify any pain points, and ideas for further workflow improvements.

Once you and the patrons try out this new workflow for holds pickups everyone will ask themselves why were holds pickups done any other way in the past? 🙂 We’re really excited about this new module because it will marry the best of Springshare’s technology for the purpose of truly improving the library’s workflows – not just during COVID-19 pandemic but in general, too. This new system will significantly enhance the value proposition and make it more convenient for your users to schedule and communicate with you about their holds.

We’re planning to release this new module in the first week of August, but in the meantime you can/should start using Option 1 (outlined above) because it will be an integral part of this new module, too. In other words, you will not waste any effort or lose work/customizations by starting on Option 1 now while we spend the next 4-5 weeks finalizing this exciting new module. Just like with the LibCal Seats module we’re working with several existing customers on this and if you have ideas and suggestions – please let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

Option 3 – ILS Integration (aka the Holy Grail)

This will not be ready for the early August release but rest assured that we’re not stopping our development on this module by then. We are planning the ultimate enhancement to the Curbside pickup/contactless checkout module – full ILS integration so the module will read the information about the holds directly from your ILS and write to the patron’s ILS record when the patron picks up the hold.

This upcoming ILS integration will make this new module an indispensable tool for libraries looking for a true end-to-end solution for curbside pickups/contactless checkouts. Your holds workflows will never be the same, and we’re not kidding about it, either. 🙂 We’re planning to release the ILS integration in September and if you’d like to work with us on it please contact us and let us know which ILS you use and we’ll put it on the todo list. One of the things we enjoy the most about our development process is working closely with our libraries so we cherish every opportunity we get to do this!

Learn More – Contact Us

Stay tuned to this blog, and subscribe to receive email alerts (enter your email address in the right column —>) to stay updated on when this functionality will be arriving in the coming weeks. Interested in being added to our contacts list? Email us at sales@springshare.com and we’ll be in touch as soon as this LibCal/LibAnswers module is released with pricing.

LibCal and LibAnswers Major New Functionality Release

Quarantine or not, we’re always busy churning new features and functionality of our platform, based on suggestions and feedback from our customers. This upcoming code release for LibCal and LibAnswers is the best example of our responsiveness to customers’ needs. With librarians pivoting to different service models centered around remote-first teaching and learning, many of you told us that you’d love to be able to conduct research appointments and hold online events via LibCal. We heard you and, a few weeks later – we made it happen.

With LibAnswers/LibChat, many international libraries have taken strong interest in the platform as it’s the most well-rounded communication platform for libraries – but they need the admin/librarian interface to be in their local language. And – you guessed it – we made it happen! Read on for details.

Read about: LibCal | LibAnswers

LibCal – conduct online appointments and online events

LibCal servers in our regions around the world will start getting this new functionality on Monday evening and by Wednesday all regions will be live with this new Online appointments/Online events functionality.

Online Appointments

Up until now, the LibCal appointment booking engine has enabled booking of appointments with the assumption that the patron would go to the library (or the librarian would visit the classroom) to conduct the actual appointment. In the “new normal”, however, a number of these research appointments/consultations will likely be conducted remotely. Enter our LibCal Zoom integration (more integration options coming soon – let us know what other video/communication platforms you want us to integrate). 

Here’s how to enable Zoom integration for Online Appointments in LibCal:

  1. Head to Admin -> Integrations and enter your Zoom API/Key (don’t have institutional Zoom license? We may be able to help – email us at sales@springshare.com).
  2. Online appointments are thought of as happening at their own Location i.e. Online. Create one (or more) Locations to designate that these appointments will be held online. Head to Admin -> Appointments -> Locations to create the Online Location(s).
  3. Each user/librarian who wants to host online appointments must be associated with their Zoom account. Head to Admin -> Users and enable Zoom for each user that should have this enabled.

And voila… your LibCal appointment scheduler can now handle online appointments via Zoom. Note that the actual online appointment happens in Zoom but LibCal makes it super-easy to schedule it and it automatically includes relevant Zoom meeting URLs in the ICS/CAL calendar file, in the email notification to the patron, and in the admin interface for the librarian. So they all just need to click on the link and jump into the meeting.

Online Events

With this new feature you’ll be able to create online events in LibCal, and patrons browsing the event calendars will be able to filter/browse by event type (Onsite or Online).

What’s neat is that you don’t have to host the online event in Zoom – you can use Facebook Events, or WebEx, or… any platform that lets you hold an online group event. Here’s how to set it up.

  • If using Zoom, Head to Admin -> Integrations and enter your Zoom API/Key (don’t have institutional Zoom license? We may be able to help – email us at sales@springshare.com).
  • When you go to create an event, for “Location” you’ll see 3 options.
  • For Zoom events, the registration option is required and attendees will receive the event URL in their registration email.
  • For other online events (e.g. Facebook Live, etc.) the event URL will be shown on the event page but if there is an access password/pin to access the event – it will be emailed to attendees in the registration email.

Patrons are able to filter and search for online events from public calendars.

Bug Fixes, New Features, & Misc.

  • Customize the contents of your Appointments booking page. Make your own page title and page text for this all-important page. Make it look/feel like just another page on your website. Head to Admin -> System Settings -> Language Options > Appointments Page. Bonus – you can now enter HTML customization for page text, hooray.
  • Add a custom message to public pages for Equipment & Spaces when all items and/or spaces are set to inactive. Head to Admin > Equipment & Spaces > Settings, and look for the new panel titled Inactive Equipment/Spaces Display.
  • Copied Equipment & Space bookings will now check the Banned Email list when creating the new booking.
  • We fixed an issue that allowed regular users with no access to a specific Equipment & Space location to modify bookings.
  • Custom text in the “Today’s Hours” widget now displays only once.
  • We’ve standardized the time format for all Excel exports.
  • Centering text in any RTE located throughout LibCal will now correctly apply inline CSS.

Upcoming LibCal Training Sessions:

Also check out our recorded sessions!

Excited yet? So are we. We look forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions for further improvements.

[Back to Top]


LibAnswers multi-lingual admin interface + few more enhancements

LibAnswers servers in our regions around the world will start getting this new functionality this evening and by Monday, May 4, all regions will be live with this new functionality.

The LibAnswers 2.34.0 release is on its way, and we’re thrilled to bring you international translations for the majority of the LibAnswers admin interface! With this release, the major pages in LibAnswers – which include the LibAnswers Dashboard, LibChat Operator Dashboard, the Ticket Create & Answer pages, Ticket Knowledge Base Explorer, and Chat Transcripts and Statistics – can now be viewed using any of our supported base language customizations. To date, in addition to English, we also support French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and Serbian (Cyrillic).

When the 2.34.0 release goes live, your LibAnswers system will be rendered in the default base language selection that your Admins have set up under Admin > System Settings > Base Language. All users with a LibAnswers login will also be able to change their personal language display on the fly, by using the dropdown option included in the footer of every LibAnswers administrative page.

New in LibChat and Shared Group Systems

In addition to our very exciting language customization updates, we have several new features rolling out in LibChat and for Shared Group Systems!

  • Create Follow-Up Tickets from the Co-Op > Transcripts View. This new view is especially helpful in cases where you’ve concluded a chat interaction while monitoring a Co-Op, but perhaps forgot to create the local follow-up ticket while you still had the chat in view. Just head to LibChat > Co-Op Dashboard > Transcripts to view the new icon for creating follow-up tickets.
  • Proactive Chat with Co-Op Fallback. We know how crucial it is to offer your patrons assistance at the point of need, so we’ve updated our approach to creating chat widgets. Now, it’s possible to create a proactive widget (i.e. a widget that prompts the user whether they need assistance via a pop-out) and include a Co-Op as a fallback option. In practice, when you create this type of widget, the widget will only behave proactively when your local librarians are online and monitoring chat; if your local librarians aren’t online, but your widget is displaying as online because it’s being monitored by Co-Op librarians, then the widget will not proactively prompt the patron. To set your widgets as proactive, head to LibChat > Chat Widgets > Choose a Button, Slide-out or Floating widget > Enter a time in seconds in the Autoload Delay field.
  • LibChat Wait Time Counter. We’ve added a new timer feature in the LibChat operator dashboard to indicate how long a new chat patron has been waiting for their chat to be answered. This new timer is displayed on all new chats.
  • Group Admin Updates for Shared Group Systems. We’ve added two new key permissions for the new Group Admin account level in Shared Group Systems: Group Admins can now edit the group policy FAQ(s) for their group and can leave feedback on transcripts that a Co-Op answered on chats that originated from widgets connected to their Group Member Library.

Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements

  • We’ve added a message to alert patrons when they attempt to upload an unsupported file type.
  • We’ve fixed a bug when creating Macros. Previously, if your site only had access to one queue, the modal window did not display the list of users required for assigning tickets to a specific user.
  • We’ve fixed a bug when setting LibChat Default Queues to Monitor. Sites with access to just one queue were not seeing an option under Edit Account > LibChat Settings > Default Queues to Monitor that would allow the user to not monitor that one Queue when first logging into LibChat.
  •  We’ve implemented a number of performance improvements in the Tickets Knowledge Base Explorer > Statistics pages and when creating new Tickets and FAQs. While these updates aren’t directly visible, you should now see speedier load times and an overall improved experience for these pages.

Upcoming LibAnswers Training Sessions:

Also check out our recorded sessions! [Back to Top]

That’s it for this round of updates from Springy HQ, but stay tuned for more mid-May when a few other things will be coming your way.

We want to give a shout-out to our entire community in these uncertain times. We see how you are retooling your libraries and educational offerings to meet users where they are (at home, like us!), and we are proud to be a part of the vibrant industry that is libraryland. Stay safe and well, out there, Springy fam! We are always here for you if have any suggestions or questions.

You’ve Switched to Remote Services… And the Numbers Show It

As libraries across the globe quickly pivoted to online services in response to the pandemic, we’ve been seeing some really interesting early numbers that illustrate the size of this sudden change in library services. We wanted to share these with you, along with some information about what we’ve been doing on our end to support you all during this time.

Spikes in LibAnswers and LibGuides = Librarians hard at work

Since March 2020, we recorded these numbers in LibAnswers activity compared to March-April 2019:

  • Incoming chats increased by 109%. To put this in perspective, that’s a total of 338,794 LibAnswers chats in less than two months.
  • Our 24/7 librarians fielded 5,677 chats on the new 24/7 LibAnswers Cooperative platform. Each of these represents a chat that would have gone unanswered.
  • Patron-submitted questions increased by 56%, which equals 303,273 queries sent via email, social, SMS, and question form since March.
  • FAQ creation increased by a whopping 217% as 13,017 FAQs were added to public and internal staff FAQ groups.

In LibGuides, library staff created more than 26,000 new guides — that’s roughly a 96% increase compared to last year!

First off, kudos to all of the librarians answering this multitude of questions and creating new content quickly for all of your users. Each one of these numbers represents a person you helped during this crisis. These statistics show how critical it is for librarians to be able to share essential information online while you’re unable to provide in-person assistance.

What we’ve been up to at Springy HQ

It’s been an all hands on deck effort for the Springy team. In addition to our official update on the pandemic, we’ve been working diligently to support you while you’re helping all of these patrons so you can answer questions, share updates, and meet with them from anywhere. This has translated some pretty big numbers on our end, too, and here’s how we’ve handled them.

  • As support tickets skyrocketed, the team adjusted its internal processes to ensure swift responses. Customer queries are up 27% since March 2020 compared to this time last year, and the majority of customer questions are fully answered and closed within one business day.
  • The team launched a new training series dedicated to libraries transitioning to online learning and reference and managing remote workplaces. In March, training attendance was up 198% and video viewership increased by 211% compared to March 2019.
  • We bolstered infrastructure to support increased usage to handle the extra load.

Speaking of training, we’ll be announcing May’s training schedule, which includes our new What is LibAnswers with LibChat? session on May 7th, in this week’s training newsletter. Don’t receive our newsletters yet? Sign up to get them in your inbox.

What’s ahead

  • We donated our platform to the Librarian Reserve Corps, an international volunteer network of over 120 medical, public health, and health science librarians supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) and the WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) with their urgent information needs related to COVID-19. Their sites were installed in just over 24 hours. Read our interview with them next week on this blog!
  • In the coming weeks, we’ll be announcing several exciting (and major) product updates to further help our customers as they pivot to different service models.

We hope you are safe and well where you are, and thank you for being on board with us! We promise to continue to provide stellar tools and superior customer support to help you navigate this difficult period.

Tips & Tricks for the Remote-First World

As more and more schools are closing, events are being canceled, buildings are shutting their doors, and people are remote-working where possible in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve… your organization is facing a critical and time-sensitive situation. How do you provide virtual services to your patrons?

Here at Springshare, we know you’re under a lot of pressure and we’re here to help you adjust quickly and ensure that your library can provide effective support to online learners and community members that cannot physically be in the library. But first things first, we want to assure you that your Springshare Service will continue uninterrupted during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Academic & K12 Institutions

With most, if not all, courses at your institution being taught online, it’s important for your library to be where your students are. Whether that means embedding library services and content in courseware or providing remote research consultations…. if they’re remote, you need to be remotely accessible too.

Courseware Integration – Adding LibGuides, LibAnswers Live Chat, and LibCal Scheduling Services

We’ve written this stellar FAQ on three different ways you can embed your LibAnswers and LibChat content in your Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, Sakai, and other LTI-compliant courseware tools.

The first method outlines using LibGuides CMS’ LTI-integration which allows you to embed not only a LibAnswers FAQ search box and a live LibChat widget, but also links to related LibGuides, LibCal appointment scheduler for online/remote research consultations, content-specific library databases, and more.

LibGuides CMS LTI Tool – creating a Library Resources page in Canvas with LibGuides, LibAnswers, and LibCal.

If LibGuides CMS is not in the cards, don’t worry – the other two ways outlined in the FAQ provide detailed instructions for embedding LibAnswers and LibChat widgets using either Javascript or non-Javascript methods. Bottom-line, if you need to integrate the library’s virtual reference services into your courseware tools… we’ve got you covered.

LibAnswers Screensharing + LibCal = Booking Virtual Appointments

If classes have gone virtual, your students still need research consultations – albeit virtually. Use LibCal Appointments to setup, manage, and communicate online appointments and conduct those sessions using LibAnswers Screensharing. LibCal Admins, learn how you can setup the Appointment Scheduler for optimal usage. We even have a dedicated training session available to show you how you can use LibCal for booking virtual help.

  • Training Session – Use LibCal Appointments to Book Virtual Help/Reference Sessions: Learn how to use LibCal to allow users to book Online Help Sessions with Appointments. We will look at using LibCal’s Appointments module to make it easy for your patrons to book one-on-one virtual appointments with you. Whatever your online hosting service is, from Skype to Zoom to Screensharing in LibAnswers, we will look at how to make this service more accessible to your patrons. Some settings that we discuss are Admin only, but all are encouraged to attend.
    • Thursday, March 19: 2:00pm – 2:45pm U.S. ET

Public / State Libraries

Though your buildings are closing their doors, there is a need now, more than ever, to effectively communicate and share extremely important public safety information with your community. We’ve seen an uptick in the creation of COVID-19 LibGuides, especially as it relates to sharing information on what public services are available, what’s closed, and more. Your LibGuides help shatter myths about the virus and communicate real facts and tips. Here are some of our favorites.

COVID-19 LibGuides:

 

All Libraries – Virtual Reference & Instruction Services

No matter what type of library you’re from, if your doors are closing for two weeks, a month, or longer, you might be exploring ways to provide virtual reference & instruction services to your patrons from the comfort and safety of your home to the comfort and safety of their home.

LibAnswers Virtual Reference Platform

If you need assistance with quickly pivoting to remote-only virtual reference service we can help with that. If you do not have an effective online chat platform with email reference capability, FAQ creator, live chat with screensharing & webinars functionality, and social media monitoring, or if you haven’t yet set some of these options up in your system, we can get you up and running on our LibAnswers platform quickly, including plenty of training / online help: live and recorded sessions, Springboards, and SpringyU courses on FAQ Groups (limit to LibAnswers).

  • Pro-tip Idea: You can use the LibAnswers Systems and Status Dashboard to share the status of various institution, city, or community services. Is the dining hall closed till further notice? Mark it as closed in your Status Dashboard. Is city hall accepting only pre-booked appointments? Note that in your Status Dashboard.

LibWizard Self-Grading Quizzes & Interactive Tutorials

Some of you are getting word out that your doors are closing and that you’ll switch to online services exclusively with just a few hours or maybe even a full day of notice…if you’re lucky. If you’re scrambling to develop lesson plans or instruction packets for K-12 students who are facing school closures for 2 – 5 weeks or college-level students who are going 100% virtual through the end of the semester, create LibWizard self-grading quizzes and/or interactive tutorials.

LibWizard quizzes and tutorials:

  • Work on all devices from tablet to computer;
  • Allow you to create an unlimited number of self-grading quizzes and tutorials;
  • Provide real-time formative assessment with correct/incorrect help text;

For public and K-12 libraries, consider liaising with your local K-12 schools to assist teachers in creation of tutorials and quizzes. Academic libraries, reach out to faculty and consider embedding a tutorial or quiz inside courseware. Public librarians, your patrons are self-quarantining and really want to download some ebooks. Create an interactive tutorial teaching them how to search, find, and download ebooks.

LibWizard Interactive Tutorial on Downloading eBooks

 

All Libraries – Bulk Canceling LibCal Appointments, Spaces & Equipment Reservations

If your building is closing suddenly, there’s a good chance that patrons have scheduled in-person appointments and reserved spaces/rooms & equipment via your LibCal Appointments, Spaces & Equipment modules. Now you have to cancel a lot of upcoming reservations and appointments…quickly. We’ve coded and released a new bulk delete feature for the LibCal Appointments, Spaces, and Equipment modules to help you with that process. This feature will be available to all regions by Tuesday, March 17.

LibAnswers 24/7 Global Cooperative

If you need extra (online) hands to staff and monitor chat to ensure after-hours, regular hours, or full 24/7 coverage, we can help with that, too. Our LibAnswers 24/7 Global Cooperative is the largest virtual reference cooperative in the world and our co-op librarians can lend a helping hand.

For those libraries who are already members of the LibAnswers 24/7 Global Cooperative, you might be noticing an increase in your virtual reference traffic due to campus closures, event cancellations, etc. We want to assure you that we are prepared to handle increases in chat traffic due to COVID-19. Our service philosophy, irrespective of COVID-19, is that we monitor incoming chat traffic trends and adjust staffing accordingly. This is to ensure that your patrons will enjoy shorter wait times and receive high-quality chat reference assistance 24/7/365.

COVID-19 Dedicated Training Series

Quickly pivoting to working from home might be new territory for you, so we’ve created several training sessions that cover: ways you can communicate important information to your community, building a LibGuide for a class that’s gone completely digital, and more. Can’t attend any of the below sessions? Don’t worry, all sessions are recorded and available online shortly after the session is held.

  • Keeping Important Info Up-to-Date with LibAnswers Widgets – manage important information about your library, school, university or business, etc, in relation to the current crisis. By creating a COVID-19 FAQ Group in LibAnswers embedding and updating important information will be easier. With widgets you will only need to update information in one location and it will automatically be updated everywhere your widgets have been used.

    •  Monday, March 16: 1:00pm – 1:45pm U.S. ET

  • Build-a-LibGuide for a Class That’s Just Gone Digital – with changes to how classes are being conducted, we need to adapt our methods for sharing information and resources. Join us for a 40 minute session where we will look at creating a guide to support a course that has just gone online.  This session assumes a base knowledge of LibGuides. If you are new to LibGuides we recommend that you watch or attend the Building a Guides Session prior to this one.
    • Wednesday, March 18: 2:00pm – 2:40pm U.S. ET
  • Use LibCal Appointments to Book Virtual Help/Reference Sessions –  learn how to use LibCal to allow users to book Online Help Sessions with Appointments. We will look at using LibCal’s Appointments module to make it easy for your patrons to book one-on-one virtual appointments with you. Whatever your online hosting service is, from Skype to Zoom to Screensharing in LibAnswers, we will look at how to make this service more accessible to your patrons. Some settings that we discuss are Admin only, but all are encouraged to attend.
    • Thursday, March 19: 2:00pm – 2:45pm U.S. ET
  • Engaging Online Learners with Quizzes & Tutorials – with the move to online instruction across the world, learn how you can create online quizzes and tutorials using LibWizard to supplement your instruction programs.

    • Tuesday, March 24: 2:00pm – 3:00pm U.S. ET

Bottom-line: we know that this is a very stressful and unnerving time-period. Both you and your patrons are going through a drastic shift, and we want you to know that we’re with you each and every step of the way. Springshare has you covered.

Update Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Your Springshare Service will Continue Uninterrupted

We at Springshare see our mission as twofold: First, as a software company we provide web-based SaaS solutions to help libraries with their communication, outreach and user engagement efforts. Second, we strive to provide you with amazing support to help you accomplish your goals of assisting patrons with their research and information needs through our software. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many institutions are canceling programs, classes, and events, while at the same time putting more emphasis on online teaching and learning (online-only classes and the like). Subsequently, the demand for your online & virtual services, online outreach, and online communication in general will certainly increase, too.


To that end, you have questions about how Springshare will be able to support you during this time. Rest assured we are ready to help and we’ll do what it takes to get you the assistance you need.

The Springshare Team – No Disruption of Service

UC San Diego’s LibGuide on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Springshare is a remote-first workplace and we do not anticipate any disruptions in our operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, as most employees work from their home offices. We also have ample staff resources available, so if some staff members were to contract the virus and are unable to work, other staff members would take over their duties to ensure no interruptions to the Springshare service or our company workflows.

Our cloud-based server infrastructure is located in various data centers around the world, hosted by AWS (Amazon Web Services), and we have no reason to believe that there would be server outages and/or connectivity problems due to COVID-19.

Therefore we believe that Springshare services and the availability of our apps will not be impacted by this outbreak.

Attendance at Upcoming Conferences & Shows

There are several upcoming conferences where Springshare has planned to attend. We currently intend to go to all upcoming conferences, unless they are canceled.

  • SCELCapalooza Vendor Day: March 12
  • Computers in Libraries (Booth #315): March 31 – April 2
    • UPDATE: This event has been canceled. Official statement from CIL.
  • ELUNA Annual Meeting: May 5 – 8
  • ALA Annual Conference: June 26 – 29

LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative – We are Prepared for Potential Increases in Chat Traffic

On February 28, the LibAnswers 24/7 Global Chat Cooperative launched! For those of you noticing an increase in your virtual reference traffic due to campus closures, event cancellations, etc…we want to assure you that we are prepared to handle increases in chat traffic due to COVID-19. Our service philosophy, irrespective of COVID-19, is that we monitor incoming chat traffic trends and adjust staffing accordingly. This is to ensure that your patrons will enjoy shorter wait times and receive high-quality chat reference assistance 24/7/365.

Our mission is to help you succeed – by providing great service to your users. To that end, since the Cooperative is staffed not only by Springshare 24/7 Librarians but also by libraries around the world who contribute hours to the Cooperative, we ask that you send any contribution hours changes here. We also request that you honor your contribution schedule during these uncertain times. We will continue to monitor the chat activity across the Global Cooperative and make adjustments, and communicate information, as appropriate.

LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative: Views from the Patron Side

We’re T-minus 9 days until the LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative launch (wahoo!). We’ve shown you some of the Co-Op’s functionality and snazzy features you and your librarians can use behind the scenes, but we know that, at the root of it all, the Co-Op is really about helping people. It’s about serving patrons you otherwise may not reach or a segment of your community you’ve struggled to engage in the past. 

In today’s blog post we’re going to focus on just that. We’re switching the view to two individual patrons: a student struggling to download a research article during peak times and a public library patron trying to access a tax form late at night. After setting the stage, you’ll see the chat as it happens on their end, and finish up by discovering how the 24/7 Co-Op’s features provided a way for an MLIS-degreed librarian from another school/library to seamlessly help these patrons as if they were their own.

So let’s pull up a chair and check out the action!

Using the Academic Cooperative to Turn a Missed Chat into a Successful Chat

The scene: Stewart is a Springy University student working on a research paper but is having trouble getting the article. He’s frustrated and needs help. It’s 5pm, one week before midterms, and all of his librarians are busy answering questions from other students. Luckily, his library has the Global Academic Co-Op as one of their chat widget fallbacks, so a Co-Op librarian can chime in if no one from Springy University responds within 15 seconds. 

The 24/7 Academic Cooperative chat (No audio): 

Not able to watch the silent video? (View the chat transcript)

We’d call this chat interaction a success! Stewart has the article he needs for his paper. Let’s take a look at how a Co-Op member from a completely different school was able to help Stewart.

  1. Right off the bat, Stewart was greeted with a message letting him know that a librarian from another college was answering his question. This text is customizable so that patrons know right away if they’re hearing from their own librarian or a Co-Op librarian.
  2. In the LibChat dashboard, the Co-Op librarian was able to see that Stewart started the chat from the library’s A-Z database page and was using Firefox. They were able to use the referring URL to go directly to where Stewart had started his search and ask a troubleshooting question.
  3. When that didn’t work, they logged into PsycDatabase to attempt to download the article. How’d they do that? By using the 24/7 Staff Policy FAQs available right from the LibChat dashboard! Springy University had already supplied the login information so that the Co-Op librarian could access it just as if they were a staff member.
  4. Since they didn’t have any trouble, the librarian used LibChat’s file upload feature to get the article directly to Stewart.
  5. Now that Stewart’s immediate issue has been addressed, they asked if Stewart would like a Springy University librarian to follow up with him. 
  6. Since he has had trouble in the past, he said yes. Then, all the Co-Op librarian needed was his email address to send the request directly to his library’s ticketing queue. Stewart will hear back as soon as a Springy University librarian is able to answer it.

Using the Public Cooperative to Reach Previously Invisible Patrons

The scene: Penny is a full-time working parent looking to start her own consulting firm, but she can only dedicate time to launching the business late in the evenings. One night, she’s having trouble finding the form she needs to create an Employer ID with the IRS. Springy Library is a member of the Public 24/7 Co-Op, so she can ask for help right from the library’s website at this late hour. 

The 24/7 Public Cooperative chat (No audio): 

Not able to watch the silent video? (View the chat transcript)

Some community members rarely make it to the library due to their busy schedules (work/life balance, what’s that again?). So when the chat widget is offline, patrons can search what’s available on the website and in FAQs, but if they run into any trouble they have to wait or get help from a friend or family member, which could take days. With 24/7 coverage, the Springy Library chat is never offline, so Penny can get personalized help and a view of the Co-Op librarian’s screen (which is all she really needed to overcome that hurdle). Let’s take a look at a few features the public Co-Op librarian used to help her out:

  1. Again, Penny was able to see right away that she was being helped by a public librarian from another institution. Since her library was closed, the chat went directly to the Public Co-Op, so she didn’t have to wait long for a response.
  2. Chat users can easily see the referring URL from the patron, so the Co-Op librarian hopped directly to the point where Penny contacted the library.
  3. When Penny expressed having trouble finding the right link, the librarian was able to create and share a video using their own screen capture software to share its link/ file. Penny was able to follow the steps on her end.
  4. Finally, since the Co-Op librarian could easily access the patron’s home library’s FAQs directly from the LibChat dashboard, they quickly found and shared the info with Penny, so she has those opening hours on hand.

Want to Learn More About the 24/7 Global Cooperative?

If you’re not a LibAnswers user yet, here’s a short overview video that gives you a tour and includes a deep dive into the LibChat features. 

The LibAnswers Global Reference Cooperative can be added to an existing LibAnswers system and includes hundreds of participating librarians and 20+ Springshare MLS librarians, delivering the highest quality co-op reference coverage for libraries.

  • The LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative allows librarians across multiple LibAnswers systems to provide collaborative chat reference.
  • Librarians answer patron chats on behalf of all member libraries within the cooperative.
  • This means, all of your patrons can get library help, even when your physical doors are closed.

If you’re ready to get started, drop us a line!

 

The LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative Your Patrons Will Love!

Launching Soon! Going Live Feb 28, 2020 Add 24 7 or custom coverage hours

The 24/7 Chat Cooperative is Near-Ready for Take Off!

It’s an exciting time for us here at Springshare as we prepare to launch the LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative. It’s going live on February 28, 2020. To answer the demand for a look at how the Cooperative will work, we’ve set up more sneak-peek webinar dates in case you missed the first round because they were booked solid or the times didn’t work out for you.

Since our acquisition of QuestionPoint in May of 2019, we’ve been diligently working to build the infrastructure for the Global Chat Cooperative. We wouldn’t be Springshare if we didn’t add some super fun features. Plus, we’ve created opportunities for you to participate in the ways that make the most sense for your particular library needs.

The best part? Your patrons are the real winners as they get the help they need — when they need it. That’s a mission statement at its simplest and we’re geared up to help you make that a reality.

Just Now Hearing About the 24/7 Global Cooperative?

First things first! If you’re not a LibAnswers user yet, here’s a short overview video that gives you a tour and includes a deep dive into the LibChat features.

The LibAnswers Global Reference Cooperative can be added to an existing LibAnswers system and includes hundreds of participating librarians and 20+ Springshare MLS librarians, delivering the highest quality co-op reference coverage for libraries.

  • The LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative allows librarians across multiple LibAnswers systems to provide collaborative chat reference.
  • Librarians answer patron chats on behalf of all member libraries within the cooperative.
  • This means, all of your patrons can get library help, even when your physical doors are closed.

The Flexibility to Serve Your Patrons.

Having options is the key to this 24/7 Cooperative unlocking possibilities for your patrons. There will be two global cooperatives to start, one for academic libraries and one for public libraries. We plan to add more down the line, for instance for law libraries, medical libraries, etc. You can also exercise the option to create your own local cooperative for your consortium, state, etc.

  • You will have the option to decide your coverage levels. You may want coverage 24/7, you may not. You can decide which hours you need a hand with based on your library and patrons.
  • You can participate in the Co-op or just get the backup coverage without participating.
  • You can get help with more than just chat services if you need it.

Prioritizing the patron experience is critical to creating a library that your community turns to and needs and loves. Anticipating the needs of patrons is a challenge because people are the ultimate variable. The LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative helps you provide answers to questions

  • for the students who are in class all day and then work jobs to help pay for school and subsequently must do their research at odd hours.
  • for patrons who work evenings or the graveyard shift or start their days pre-dawn.
  • for library users who need to reach you during holidays or snow days or when they’re up late with a young baby and need recommendations for books on sleep training.

It’s hard to know when someone is going to need your help with research — because their teen just remembered an assignment on Ancient Rome is due tomorrow. Nor can we know when someone is going to suddenly find a need to see sample resumes and cover letters. We can’t anticipate what they’ll ask.

But there’s a chance they might want to talk with a librarian… after your doors are closed. Springshare’s 24/7 Global Cooperative can help you be prepared for that — and get them the answers they need. Come to a sneak-peek session and learn how it all works.

New Sneak-Peek Sessions Added!

All times listed below are in U.S. Eastern Time.

Can’t attend? Don’t worry. Just go ahead and register for any session and select ‘Watch the Recording’ on the sign-up form. We’ll send you the link to view the recording as soon as it’s available. To ask questions now or to get more information, contact us.

Webinar Schedule:

Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing – Tip #2: Keep Patrons Informed

Tip #2 – Keep Patrons Informed

We’re getting down to the part of the season where there are atypical hours and even closures either due to inclement weather or observed holidays. Just as important, there are some libraries that are anxious to let patrons know that they will, in fact, be open. LibAnswers has so many features in place that let you get ahead of the questions by taking a few proactive steps to keep your patrons in the know.

 

Honor Your Social Obligations 

The LibAnswers system has a Social Media Management tool built into it. Most libraries use it to broadcast details on all the fun happening at the library, but don’t forget, besides reminders, it’s designed to help you plan ahead, too! You can create and schedule Tweets, Pinterest pins, and Facebook posts — all from right inside LibAnswers. So, make sure to utilize these channels to let your patrons know:

  • About any changes to services at your library
  • If you’ll have adjusted or abbreviated hours
  • And, share any days you will be closed

Just go to Social > Create >  Select the Channel (Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest). Customize your message and schedule it to post at a future date and time. You can do this to maintain a social media presence even when you’re not open, or just to keep ahead of your to-do list. It doesn’t have to be critical FYIs… schedule any post!

Get Proactive About Your Answers

The beauty of LibAnswers is that — no matter which channels a patron prefers to use to communicate with your library, you can be there just by signing into the LibAnswers Platform. To save you and your team a lot of time during these weeks, write out the answers to your super popular FAQs of the season and then place them everywhere you need them.

  • FAQs – Wish you had Seasonal FAQs for those who like to search for answers? You can have them with the Status Change feature! Create the FAQ > select Change Status > opt to Schedule a Status Change. This means you can change the status to published just at the beginning of the season so that it’s not in the system all year confusing people. Instead the seasonal FAQ can be published when you want and then also be unpublished at a date you choose, as well. These can also be useful for extended hours during finals, etc. 
  • Macros – Create a few macros for tickets and SMS messages. When those queues fill up with questions like, “How late are you open today?” you can effortlessly tackle them one by one with your macros in place.
  • Canned Messages – LibChat allows for system-wide canned messages. So, Admins, go ahead and create some ready-to-go answers for your whole staff to use when chatting. Label them Thanksgiving Hours, Exam Hours, Holiday Closings, etc. Just be sure they’re clear at-a-glance because chat is a speedy endeavor, then let the team know they’re available for use! These canned messages can be easily re-ordered so that you can move them to the top when the time is right!

Have a Backup Plan

Some libraries operate with minimal staff during these last weeks of the year. Find out who is going to be part of that skeleton crew and see if they’d be willing to be set up as a fallback monitor to be designated in your LibChat widget. For instance, if the Reference Department monitors the widget for questions that come in, see if Circulation would be okay to have new chats sent to them in case the Reference Department is offline. It’s also possible to select specific operators. LibStaffer could help you know who’s working.

This time of year, doesn’t have to be so unpredictable. When you are open, use the Internal Notes field in Reference Analytics to leave a tag like “Holidays”. It will help you search for all the transactions — for which you recorded analytics from live ones to chats to tickets, etc. — that happened during the holiday season. This data will help you see if your patrons are engaging pretty heavily or even at a normal level with the library, or if it’s really quite slow at this time like you imagine it would be. Let the data replace the guesswork.

From all of us at Springshare, “Enjoy the rest of 2019 and we’ll see you in the new year!”

LibAnswers 24/7 Global Cooperative

Interested in looking ahead? We have a recording of the LibAnswers 24/7 Co-Op Sneak Peek session for you to view. To watch, click here.

Springshare Helps You Manage Library Schedule Breaks With Ease

Just In Time! Learn How to Keep Your Calendars and Schedules Rolling Along.

Tis the Season! Between people on your staff asking for time off and adjusted Library schedules to multi-day closures and not-business-as-usual office hours, plus the occasional storm, and don’t forget the flu —  this time of the year can be a little chaotic. You have to be especially proactive, making sure to clearly communicate any changes to your patrons. Want to avoid a face-off with the Abominable Snowman? Use multiple methods to get the word out.

Learn how Springshare tools like LibStaffer, LibCal, and LibAnswers help prepare you for this season so, any surprises…will be good surprises!

LibStaffer First! Because You Want to Run Smoothly from the Inside Out.

When there are challenges ahead, get your house in order. Look internally to see what you can do to keep the library staff informed of the increased or decreased hours in the upcoming weeks and months. Follow these LibStaffer tips to ensure smiles on the library floor.

  • Connect – You can avoid the mess of pulling schedules back to revise them based on seasonal hours. Take the steps to connect LibStaffer Schedules to corresponding LibCal hours for specific locations. Admin > Schedule Settings > Edit Settings > LibCal Integration > Select a Library or department from your Hours list > Save. This way, if there are modified opening and/or closing hours, you can be extra diligent by opting to overlay the current hours when you assign people to shifts.
  • Manage –  Balance allowing your team the flexibility to swap and give up shifts with providing ample time for Managers and all involved to be ready for the changes. You can set up new parameters for both swaps and give-ups effectively restricting them to a selected amount of time before the shift starts. Admin > Schedule Settings > Edit Settings >Swap or Give Up Shifts > Enable restriction > Select Amount of Time.

LibStaffer is full of super useful features to help you stay on top of who is working and when. Don’t forget these concrete ways to keep everyone informed.

  1. Customize the Admin Alert Box to broadcast any policies for requesting vacation days.
  2. In the Approvals Pending page, LibStaffer lets you know if the person requesting time off is already scheduled for that time. You will also find the ability to approve, deny, or edit the request and see the staff member’s history — so make an effort to decide their fates as soon as possible. It’s appreciated because, during this time of year, sometimes travel arrangements have to be made. 

LibCal for All Seasons!

Every day of the year, LibCal keeps your library efficient and visible. LibCal shares your vitals: the what, when, and where. To make sure it’s the authority, keep it current!

  • Hours Module – Since the October updates, the hours in your LibCal system can now be associated with an Event Calendar you have. It is likely already connected to other components of your LibCal system. Never fear this time of year! You don’t have to change everything and then change it back, you can simply add and manage exceptions.
  • Appointments – Don’t forget to think about yourself! By this we mean, have a look at your availability that you share via Appointments. Perhaps you’re taking some days off and want to stack your appointments before you go. Or, maybe you want to modify your schedule so you can get on the road to see family? No worries! LibCal makes it easy to add and delete availability times from your appointment schedule.
  • To be doubly careful you don’t get booked when you can’t be — be sure to sync your Appointments availability with your LibStaffer shifts. This way if you’re scheduled for a shift in LibStaffer, you will be marked as unavailable for an appointment. Remember with cold and flu season, the shifts might be a bit unpredictable so this is a good precautionary measure.

LibAnswers for Anticipating the Questions.

The spectacular thing about LibAnswers is that patrons can ask their questions when they feel like asking them, whether the library is open or already closed for the day. Additionally, the system also has lots of little places you can customize to make sure you are communicating masterfully. 

  • SMS Keywords – Promote your library’s SMS number heavily. Then be sure to set up a number of Keywords. This allows your patrons to text a word or phrase to your SMS number and receive a text with relevant information right away. So if they text “hours” they’d receive a reply with the library’s hours (which you have made sure is current).
  • Autoload Delay – Configure the autoload delay feature to set up a proactive chat widget. Customize the language for the text of the header to say something fun like, “Remember, the library will be closed from X to X. Would you like to chat with a librarian now?” Everyone’s getting a reminder whether they decided to take you up on the chat or not.

Springshare tools work well together so go ahead and cross announce to cover all your touchpoints. Create a LibAnswers FAQ about seasonal hours and then link to your LibCal hours in the answer. Make edits to your Using the Library LibGuide to include the modified hours information and the new FAQ. Make an FAQ on the policies for taking sick days and vacations for your LibStaffer Admin alerts box. Be creative. Have fun. Customize language where you can to remind everyone that there are changes. Then infuse the library with apple cinnamon air fresheners to keep everyone smiling and looking forward to it all.