Archive for LibChat

LibAnswers 2.5 Update Coming Friday

The summer of updates continues! The LibAnswers 2.5 update is coming on Friday, July 24th at 7:30am EDT. There will be no downtime for the overall LibAnswers system, with the exception of a minute or two of downtime for users currently logged in to LibChat. Here’s what’s on deck:

LibAnswers Updates

  • Updated Dashboard Views – We’re making a few adjustments to the Dashboard ticket view pages to make them easier to scan for key information on each ticket. Now it’s easier to scan the page for patron name/email, current status, and who last replied (so you know who’s waiting on a response).
  • Image Previews in Tickets – We’re adding an onscreen preview for submitted image files (gif, jpeg, png, etc.). When patrons send you image files in LibChat and LibAnswers, you’ll see the image in a little popup window instead of downloading the file, so you’ll never have to download an email signature or social networking icon again. 🙂
  • RefAnalytics Completion Prompts – Want to make doubly sure librarians fill out key Reference Analytics metrics when answering tickets and chats? We’re adding a new administrative setting to remind your LibAnswers staffers to fill out the Reference Analytics form. Admins will head to Admin > System Settings > General and scroll to the new RefAnalytics settings.

LibChat Updates

  • Emoticons – We’re adding support for basic smiley chat images, making it that much easier to let folks know how you feel. 🙂 Click on the smile image in the chat widget pane to see which emoticons are supported, and add to your live chats using menu-selection or keyboard entry.
  • Updated Canned Message UI – We’re updating the selection menu in the chat pane for canned messages, so it’s easier to scan and quickly choose the right message.
  • Wait Time Statistics – We’re adding a new stats report to show you how long, on average, your chat patrons are waiting before their chat is answered. You’ll see this metric integrated in various chat reports, and you’ll also see individual wait times in each chat transcript.

Delaware Libraries Using LibAnswers for Statewide Reference

AskALibrarian DelawareWith more than 30 public, academic, and special libraries participating statewide, Ask a Librarian Delaware has been servicing Delawareans since 2003. In 2014 alone, they answered 3,000 chat questions and an additional 3,000 email questions roughly equating to 500 questions answered per month.

On March 1st, 2015 – the Ask A Librarian Delaware service switched to using LibAnswers for their statewide reference expanding their service to include SMS/Text-Message Reference. We had a chance to chat with Cathay Keough, Statewide Coordinate of Reference Services for DAAL, and here’s what she had to say!

Delaware Division of Libraries - Genealogy LibGuides

Delaware Division of Libraries – Genealogy LibGuides

What inspired you to switch to LibAnswers for your Statewide Service?

Ask a Librarian Delaware is an extension of Delaware libraries’ reference services, and in keeping with our initiative to find ways to improve library services, it was important to keep our eyes open for products that best fit our ideals.  Springshare’s LibGuides was already being used by Delaware Division of Libraries, and that gave us an introduction to the other products Springshare provides.  Upon closer examination and through a trial process, we decided to proceed with this transition to LibAnswers.  I had also seen the FAQs portion of LibAnswers in action through another library service, and was impressed by a demo provided during a library conference.

Statistics are important to DAAL – Tell us how you’re using LibAnswers Reference Analytics to track reference stats.

To track statistics, we began using the Dewey Decimal system a few years ago as a way to help us identify types of questions asked across all of our reference interactions (on the desk, telephone, email, chat, texting) and have coined the term for this reporting process, “Dewey Delaware.”  Our LibAnswers Reference Analytics was easily set up to continue this type of tracking.

You’ve been using LibAnswers for DAAL for 5 months now – tell us about your experience!

June Stats!

  • 555 Views on FAQs
  • 86 SMS/Text-Message Questions Answered
  • 600 Total June Reference Questions across Email, SMS, Chat

So far, from the training to the statistics, LibAnswers has been just what we hoped it would be:

  • easy to train library staff
  • intuitive to use
  • responsive on any device for library staff and patrons
  • adaptable for future considerations, such as developing a separate Group or Queue identity for a special library, but within the same cooperative.

Staff commonly remark that they love the interface and find it to be an easy and effective way to provide reference for online customers.

As a shared statewide system, the “Reuse Answers” (FAQs and librarians’ responses) have already shown value for library staff; it saves time as well as creates consistency in answering to share what we know in this way.  Features like Reuse Answers, patron surveys on chat, and Query Spy give us excellent information to continue to improve our reference services.

We also appreciate that Springshare’s Support Team have listened to suggestions and ideas for improving the interface as well.

What does the future hold for Ask a Librarian Delaware?

In the future we plan to explore more options for visibility of the Ask a Librarian DE service.  The widgets are easy to create and implement on library websites and anywhere Delaware patrons are online.  Our only challenge is to work with those in charge of the sites; sometimes there are hurdles with website restrictions, depending upon the library or institution.  Springshare’s products are well established and their reputation is rapidly growing, however, so it’s just a matter of time.

We enjoy providing professional and fun options for all our library patrons and students and look forward to serving our Delaware community in ways that fit their needs, where they are and when they need it.

New Castle County Public Library

New Castle County Public Library – LibAnswers Search FAQ Widget

LibAnswers 2.4 Update – LibChat Updates and Consortial Shared Systems

LibAnswers 2.4 is coming this weekend! This update will include improvements both large and small. We’re planning to roll this update out at 8:00am EDT this coming Saturday, May 30th. There will be no downtime for the overall LibAnswers system, with the exception of several minutes of downtime for users currently logged in to LibChat. Read on for more information about this exciting update!

LibChat Operator Screen Update

We’re in full-on spring cleaning mode, and the LibChat Operator Screen is our latest target. The upcoming interface update is a clean, modern dream – check it out:

sopSleek, right? The new design incorporates a lot of frequently requested features, plus some things we cooked up ourselves, including:

  • Redesigned Alerts – We know it can be tricky to scan the page when tons of new chats are coming in, so we’ve updated the look of all incoming notifications and alerts to make the information more scannable and easy to read.
  • Selective Queue Notifications – We expanded the “Receive alerts for incoming LibAnswers tickets” feature – now, you can choose to receive notifications for specific LibAnswers queues.
  • Responsive Improvements – The operator screen has been optimized so it looks great on any device.
  • Better Chat Window Resizing – We’ve improved the resizing capabilities of the chat window in the Operator pane

Consortial Shared Systems

We’re rolling out a brand new option in this update – it’s not as obvious as the LibChat Operator redesign, but trust us, it’s got some extremely exciting implications. 🙂 We’re introducing a new way to connect your LibAnswers v2 system to another v2 system – what we’re calling Shared Systems. Once you’re joined up for sharing, you’ll be able to create chat departments and LibAnswers queues that are shared between the systems, so librarians at either site can claim, answer, and transfer questions back and forth.

There are a ton of potential uses for this new sharing functionality, but a big one is Consortiums, where multiple libraries staff a shared answering service. With this update, librarians in separate LibAnswers systems will be able to monitor and claim chats from a shared chat department, transfer live chats to librarians in other LibAnswers systems, and transfer tickets to Queues in other LibAnswers systems. In our next update, we’ll be adding shared Queue monitoring, so librarians in separate sites can monitor and answer tickets from the same Queue. It’s sharing at it’s finest!

The new Shared Systems feature is pretty awesome in Consortium setups, and it’s even more awesome if your library uses a separate service to staff your chat department in the off-hours. This update makes it super easy to create chat widgets that connect to your local library by default, but if no one from your local library is available, connect to the off-hours service. Best of all, we’ve also updated our statistics (shoutout to the data nerds!), so you can see all the relevant statistical data on shared chat departments, transfers, etc. regardless of which system answered.

If you’re ready to get sharing with another site on the LibAnswers v2 platform, just send an email to our support team to get the sharing party started. 🙂

Other Updates

  • LibChat API for Online/Offline Status – We’ve heard some rumblings from folks in the tech community that you’d like even more flexibility when it comes to designing your own widgets, so we’ve added a new API for detecting your LibChat service’s online/offline status.
  • Queue-level Macros & Views – We’ve also added more flexibility for queue-level administrators – now, they can create macros and views that apply for all users with access to that queue.

LibAnswers 2.3.1 Coming Soon!

LibAnswers 2.3.1 is coming this weekend! This update will include improvements both large and small. We’re planning to roll this update out at 8:00am EDT this coming Saturday, April 18th. There will be no downtime for the overall LibAnswers system, with the exception of several minutes of downtime for users currently logged in to LibChat. Read on for more information about this exciting update!

New LibAnswers Spam Filters

We’ve been hearing from folks recently that there’s been an uptick in the amount of spam submissions being sent to some LibAnswers sites. No one hates spam more than us, so we’ve introduced a brand new, laser-focused bayesian spam filter to help combat the spammy forces of evil.

This new filter went into effect this week in advance of the update, so hopefully you’re already seeing the benefit of the new spam-fighting filter. To view the effects, check out the Spam tab in your LibAnswers dashboard. Keep an eye on the Spam tab in the coming weeks – the new filter learns from you as you mark tickets as spam/not spam, so the more information it receives, the better it gets!


(And for you folks who haven’t upgraded to LibAnswers v2 yet, rejoice – the new spam filter is active in both LibAnswers v1 and v2!)

LibChat Under-the Hood Update

We’re planning a major update to the under-the-hood technology used to power LibChat. This update will offer a big improvement for sites who occasionally report an incorrect online/offline widget status. These changes won’t be obvious to LibChat operators immediately, but in addition to improving the currently online/offline widget behavior, they’ll also form the base for new improvements and features down the road!

IMPORTANT: Due to this update, the LibChat service will *briefly* go offline for several minutes at 8:00am EDT on Saturday morning. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Updated Question Form Builder

We’re updating our question form builder to use a more graphics-based interface! The new form builder includes several nice to have updates, including:

  • New layout orientations
  • More customizable form sections (each section can include a title and intro text, and sections can be easily reordered)
  • Tracking User Agent & IP info has been segmented into their own fields

Admins, once the update rolls out, head to Admin > Queues > Edit Queue > Question Form to check out the new builder.

Keep an eye out, these new updates will be coming to you this weekend!

LibAnswers v 2.2 update now live!

We’re excited to announce the LibAnswers v2.2 update – now live for all LibAnswers v2 sites!

Systems & Status Management Now Available!

The all new Systems & Status Management Tool is now available in the LibAnswers v2 platform! We are very pleased to offer this amazing new module to all LibAnswers Platform clients for free during the 12 months from January to December 2015. If you find this module useful (and we are confident you will – it is the best and the most cost-effective way to keep track of various library systems and inform your community about the status of each) your 2016 renewal will increase marginally (by a few hundred dollars) in order to cover the costs of additional server resources/maintenance of the new functionality. For the exact amount of the price increase (which is based on FTE) head to Systems Status Management > Settings > Module Information & click “See pricing details” for the full breakdown.

If you don’t want to use this new tool, no problem – from that same screen, just set the Module Status to Disabled, and your renewal price remains the same. You’ll miss out on some really useful functionality at the best price you’ll ever find, but we won’t hold it against you. 😉

For more help getting started with this shiny new tool, head over to our Support Guide for extensive configuration instructions.

LibChat Updates

  • DeptopselectWaterfall Chat Widgets – aka Fallback widgets, create chat widgets that check for the presence of individual librarians and/or departments, according to the order you define. Just create or edit a chat widget and select Options > Department/Operator Selection, and create the sequence of “Options” you’d like to see. This makes it possible to set up a sequence like: If Sarah is online, connect new chats to Sarah; if not, connect new chats to the Reference Department; if Reference isn’t online, connect to anyone in the library.
  • Department + Personal Chat Widget Management Combined – We’ve streamlined the admin UI, so you can manage both personal and department/system chat widgets from one place! To manage all of your chat widgets, head to LibChat > Chat Widgets:
    • Admin level users can create & edit widgets for any department or user
    • Regular level users can create & edit their own widgets
  • Streamlined Queue/Chat Department Connections – We’ve made it way easier to associate LibAnswers Queues with LibChat Departments! Admins who create (or edit) a department will see the option to assign this department to a Queue. When a department is assigned to a Queue, all users assigned to that Queue are also assigned to that chat department, and Queue level administrators receive department-level administrative access.
  • Department Canned Messages – Create canned messages and share them with everyone assigned to a chat department. Head to Admin > LibChat Set-up > System Canned Messages – add or edit a message, and you’ll see a new option to assign the message to a department.
  • New Department Stats – We’ve added a new report to show you the breakdown of chats by department. Head to LibChat > Statistics > Clients/Operators to find the new report.

More Awesomeness

  • copywidgetCopy Widgets – Are your LibAnswers & LibChat widgets highly customized? We’ve made it easier to create new widgets using an existing widget as a base – just head to any widget management screen – in the Actions column, select Copy Widget. This creates a brand new widget based on the old widget, which you can customize to your hearts content!
  • Improved Selectors & Menus – This one is especially for sites managing large numbers of “things” – lots of user accounts, or lots of queues, chat departments, etc. We’ve improved the selector options across the admin interface so you no longer have to scroll through endlessly long lists of “things” to find the thing you’re looking for – now, you can search the list’s content and even select multiple list options when appropriate.

Important Information for LibChat Operators

Starting this Saturday Feb 15, if you use Internet Explorer 8 or 9 as your primary browser, you must have Flash enabled in order to access the LibChat Operator screen.

This change only affects LibChat Operators. Patrons will still be able to use any browser combination they choose, and will not be impacted by this change.

Why we made this decision:
The technology that makes LibChat possible varies from browser to browser:

  • Modern browsers (Firefox, Chrome, IE10 & IE11) use websockets – a highly reliable and stable transport method
  • Older browsers (IE8 & IE9) with Flash enabled use Flash Sockets – a pretty reliable and stable method
  • Older browsers (IE8 & IE9) without Flash use JSONP – reliable on the patron side, but has proved unreliable for Operator connections because the operator console is infinitely more complex than a patron’s chat widget

Even after months of development and testing the operator console using jsonp, some clients still report issues with IE 8/9 and the culprit always boils down to jsonp issues, so we have no choice but to eliminate jsonp as a transport method for libchat operator connections. Not using jsonp on your end will ensure that your on-going chats with patrons go smoothly and don’t cut-off in the middle of the conversation.

So, if you’re currently using IE8 or IE9 for operator chat:

We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause. Please share this message with your LibChat Operators – and if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at

LibAnswers/LibChat Planned Maintenance – Friday Night Feb 7th

A quick note to our community –  LibAnswers and LibChat servers will be down for planned upgrades for about 20-30 minutes on Friday February 7th, starting at 10pm EST.

We are upgrading these servers to add additional capacity – we have seen a big spike in LibAnswers and LibChat usage and have added hundreds of new clients lately, which is great news. By upgrading the servers we’ll ensure their continued smooth operation.

This downtime will only affect LibAnswers and LibChat – our other products, i.e. LibGuides, LibAnalytics, LibStaffer, LibCal… are unaffected. We did a thorough analysis of LibAnswers and LibChat usage logs and found that Friday nights were the lowest usage periods so we picked this time for upgrades.

It could be that the actual downtime will only be a few minutes, but for your planning you should count on LibAnswers and LibChat being inaccessible for about 30 minutes on February 7th starting at 10pm EST.

It is very gratifying to all of us at Springshare to see so many libraries adopting LibAnswers and LibChat, and the usage increasing exponentially. For those libraries that do not have LibAnswers/LibChat yet, contact us today to get started on your trial. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

As always, we’re here if any questions pop up –

LibChat Updates Now Live

First, we’d like to extend a big Thank You to everyone who’s shared comments and feedback on the upcoming LibGuides v2 release. We’re thrilled with the early feedback from the Sneak Peek webinars, because if you can believe it, LibGuides v2 is *just the beginning*. We’re committed to updating all of Springshare’s apps with the same user-friendly themes in mind. Usability is important to us, so we’re thrilled to bring you new features like point-and-click content creation, simple yet powerful customization, and solid infrastructure improvements in all of Springshare’s products. Trust us when we say these are some of our very favorite things, no Sound of Music intended. 🙂

In that spirit, we’ve been hard at work on several big improvements for LibChat, and we’re thrilled to release them just in time for the holidays. This release is all about ease and simplicity – it offers a great mix of time saving features, new functionality, and performance improvements. Please make sure to clear your browser cache to ensure you’re seeing fresh content.

Redesigned Widget Builder

We’ve redesigned the widget builders from the ground up! To see it in action, head to Admin Stuff > LibChat > System Chat Widgets (if you’re an admin) or LibChat > Personal Chat Widgets; you’ll find all of the same options you love, plus a bevy of new customization and time-saving features:

  • Save your widgets – Reusing custom widgets is about to get a whole lot easier! Just name your widget and click Save, and LibChat will store your widget for easy reuse, later editing, etc.
  • Point-and-click customization – Click on the visual preview image to select the text (or color, or setting) you want to change, and you’ll see a dialog window that captures your custom info. Point, click, done!
  • Guided Settings – LibChat offers tons of widgets, settings, and options, and we wanted to streamline those options for maximum discoverability. That inspired us to reorganize all of LibChat’s options, making it easier to find and use the settings you need.

New Widget Options

Cause really, what’s a new widget builder without some cool new functionality? We’ve added several of the most popular feature requests from the past year, including:

  • New Widget: Bottom Slide – You’ve seen the “Ask Us” sliders on the left and right of the browser pane, but what about the bottom? Our new widget positions your Ask Us widget at the bottom of the pane. This positions one-click librarian assistance in context with the main content area of the page, without obscuring page content.
  • Multiple Widget Support – Want to add multiple chat widgets on a page? Maybe you have a site-wide slider and an in-page embedded chat, or multiple personal chat widgets in one spot. With this update, you’ll be able to add as many widgets on a page as you’d like.
  • Question Fields – We’ve made it easier to collect introductory information on the patrons you chat with! Ask up to 3 text-response and multiple choice questions; ask anything from “Is this for a course?” to “What’s your favorite type of cookie?”.
  • Streamlined Anonymous Chat – If your chat widget permits users to chat anonymously, we’ve made it easier for your incognito patrons to start a chat by removing the need to click a special checkbox. We’ve removed the warning message, lowering the barriers to entry for the stealthy (or shy) questioners out there.
  • ARIA tags – Our widgets are taking a new leap forward in accessibility, thanks to the inclusion of ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite) tags. These tools are designed to help make dynamic web applications (like the LibChat widgets) more accessible to users who rely on screen readers.

Librarian Operator Panel

We hope you don’t think this update is all about the flashy new Widget Builder, cause we’ve got more surprises in store. This update also includes some pretty sweet improvements to help you monitor your system’s connectivity and keep in touch with your colleagues:

  • Start a Group Chat – Grab a quick consult with your resident subject experts – just click Group Chat to start a conversation. Tag as many folks as you’d like to join in – it’s great for everything from discussing tricky reference questions to pinging your circulation buddy to see if the novel you’re waiting on showed up in the book drop.
  • Updated (and improved) Status area – View all of the conversations happening in your system, in real time! The new Status area made the information in the “Visitors Online” area redundant, so we’ve streamlined the screen to show more relevant information in the main pane.
  • Status area now shows Past & Present – And coming soon, the Future! (…eh, maybe not ;). When you log in to LibChat, you’ll see all of the chats currently in progress, including those that may have started before you logged in to LibChat.
  • Join Chats in Progress – Now that you can see all of the patron chats happening in your system, we thought we’d make it easy to join those conversations! You’ll see a new “Join” link on each live chat listing – click it to jump into that chat.
  • Connection Status Updates – Both librarians and patrons can monitor their chat session connection in real time, via new alerts in the operator and chat windows.
  • Lost Connection? Reconnect! – Our developers have added some serious horsepower under Libchat’s hood. If a chat in progress drops unexpectedly, our new transport layer is there to save the day and reestablish the connection!

Remember, we’re just getting started  – we’re gearing up for a bigger LibAnswers announcement this January, where we’ll share more exciting redesign goodness. As always, a big thank you goes out to everyone who shared ideas for this update – it’s always a pleasure to hear from you!

LibChat Under the Hood Update Now Live!

We’ve been hard at work on the next generation of LibChat, and we’re thrilled to report that part 1 – our major under-the-hood rewrite – is now live! This update is all about improving the general back-end performance of LibChat, so you may not “see” much new stuff at first – we’re saving the major widget improvements and additional updates for later this summer. Here are the changes we’re rolling out now:

  • We’ve rewritten the core of LibChat from the inside out – But don’t worry, any existing widgets will still work as they always have.
  • Online/Offline behavior is now directly tied to the chat window – We know, it happens. Now, if you close the chat operator window without clicking “GO OFFLINE”, no worries – your status will remain accurate.
  • New “pop out” option in all patron chat widgets – Now all chats can be floated on top of the existing window instead of being embedded inside. If your patron navigates away from the current page, no sweat!
  • New help text in chat widgets – we’ve added a helpful “press enter to send” message to the public chat widgets
  • Terminate Operator Session (Admins Only) – We’ve all been there – anxious to leave at the end of the day, you forget to close your browser window; when you get home, you realize your chat service still appears available. No worries – head to Admin Stuff > LibChat > Who’s Online and click Terminate Session – this remotely closes your browser window.
    • Please use this feature with care, as it will end any existing patron chats when the chat window closes.

As a result of this update, several commonly-reported bugs have been eradicated, including:

  • New patron chats won’t “flicker” in the operator pane
  • You’ll no longer see chat duplication in the operator pane

Stay tuned for part 2 of the LibChat update later this summer – we’ll be revamping the widget builder and adding all manner of new features!

LibAnswers and LibChat Updates Now Live!

Good Morning Springyland – we’ve rolled out a LibAnswers and LibChat update! This time around we’re focusing on some of your most requested features – here’s the highlights reel:

LibChat Updates

  • File Transfers – Patrons and Librarians can now share files via chat, all with the click of a button.*
  • Operator-to-Operator Chat We’ve made it easy to chat with other online LibChat operators. Just click on another operator’s name, and you’ll initiate a private, back-end chat.
  • Transcript Download and Email – It’s here! Head to the Transcripts management area, and you’ll be able to download transcripts. We’ve also added an easy email option for individual transcripts, making it easy to share interesting chat logs with your colleagues.

LibAnswers Updates

  • Was this Helpful? Voting – We’ve added a super simple way to generate patron feedback on the helpfulness of answers in your public knowledgebase. 
  • User File Uploads – Patrons can now submit files along with the questions they submit; uploads are fully supported in the question form as well as via emailed submissions.*
  • New API Options: We’ve added a host of new APIs, making it even easier to embed your LibAnswers content in other sources. Head to the widgets and API area to find these new options:
    • Full Question API – use this to grab the full question and answer content for any public question.
    • Search API – Send a search query to your LibAnswers system and get a list of results back – great for building your own search box and displaying results in the same page!
  • Query Spy Updates: we’ve added some excellent features to the fount of knowledge that is Query Spy:
    • One-click IP lookups – you’ll find IP addresses listed in your Query Spy results – click them for a quick view on patron’s location info.
    • Internal/External IP reporting – Admins: head to System Settings and define your internal IP range, so Query Spy reports can reflect searches coming from inside / outside your IP range.
    • New Filters available to narrow in on query source and questions users selected.
    • Query Re-run – want to see the search results your users saw? Hit the spyglass to view their search results.
    • Most Popular Queries – find the most popular search terms used to search your system! Head to Query Spy > View Statistics and scroll down to view the new “Popular Words” report.
  • Question Form Updates: We’ve added a host of new options to your system’s question form. Admins, head to Admin Stuff > Question Form to enable these options.
    • Receive Response via SMS – Patrons in a hurry can now submit a question with the system question form, but choose to receive an answer via SMS.
    • A Third Free-Text Field is now available for more in-depth data collection.
    • Character Limit for Question/Details has been upped to 64,000 characters, making it easier to capture all the information a patron might submit.
  • New Queues: We’ve added new queues to help you keep track of bounced emails (ie emails not received by patrons) and spam messages (questions submitted to your system marked as spam).

As always, we’re sending out a million thanks to our user community for sharing these fantastic feature ideas – you guys are the best!

* Note: File upload and transfers are limited to 5MB; files are stored for 1 week, then deleted due to privacy concerns.