Archive for Tips and Tricks

Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing — Tip #1: The Eventful Library

Tip #1 — The Eventful Library

What’s on the schedule for these next three weeks? Is it chaos, or cookies? This time of year, most libraries have event calendars that are jam-packed! LibCal is just as full of tremendous features — as your libraries are of eager patrons. Let’s make a list (and check it twice) of the ways you can ensure that you’re doing your level best to keep your library eventful and jolly.

Everything’s Better When You Make it from Scratch

While we do have options in place to make it easy for you to set up repeating events, December calendars tend to have a lot of unique offerings. Start from the beginning by taking advantage of the integrated space and equipment booking feature. At event creation, go ahead and reserve the auditorium for the Winter Poetry Reading and, while you’re at it, reserve a podium, microphone, and that projector to mimic falling snow behind your readers. Don’t forget to use the setup and teardown padding, if there’s a lot to do.

 

 

The More the Merrier

Marketing can be an intimidating concept. Just remember that there’s a reason people judge a book by its cover. A picture’s worth a thousand words. LibCal allows you to draw your patrons in with featured images — both in the Daily List view and, more recently, the Daily Card view. This can be done even after the event has been created. So, put your best photo forward and pull in those attendees! With the right image, that Ugly Knitting Party could easily become a hot ticket.

Don’t Cut Off the Tags

Tags are good when you’re creating events. Want to ensure the tags work for you? You’d have to always remember to add the Audience and Category right from the start. To establish this as part of the process, you can make the fields required for all new events. The Audience can be adult or all ages, faculty or first-year students. Have as many as you like. They’re easy to create and manage. Categories allow for even more filtering. LibCal has System-Level Categories and also Calendar-Level Event Categories. These designate the kind of event like Book Club, Crafts or Holiday, etc. Using these tags will help your patrons find events that might be of interest to them. One might be looking for a craft event for teens. Someone else might be looking for database help for transfer students. You’ve got all this excellent programming lined up, make sure your patrons can find events and get excited about them.

If registration is required, make sure that you encourage patrons to register by creating an Event Button that you embed on your library website, in a related LibGuide, or anywhere you know your patrons are visiting.

 

Enjoy Top Billing

The Billing feature in LibCal allows you to have integrated online payments natively built right into the system to collect payment online via card or in person. If you’ll charge patrons to attend some of the special events at your library this month, you’ll be happy to know that you won’t have to push folks out to some other external site when it’s time to pay. Having a 3D Printer event where people make snowflakes? They can pay for the event right at the moment of registration or opt to pay at the event.

In our October update, we modified the status and processing of refunds for in-person payments. Now, if a booking or registration that was paid for in-person is canceled, the status will change to “refund due”. The Springshare team has worked very hard to make sure you and your patrons feel comfortable with the whole process. Not having to go to out into the cold to, yet, another interface is part of that. Billing currently supports five currencies and you can, of course, see a record of all completed payments, refunds, and cancelations. You know how frustrating it can be to untangle a string of lights. LibCal keeps your records straight.

 

So, go ahead and promote those “Hot Cocoa Mixers” and your “Hit the 2020 Ground Running” resume workshop. LibCal features make it easy to have successful events time and Father Time, again. And, if you really want to be a star, send out a LibWizard survey afterward!

 

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.

Share LibWizard Surveys With Some Fields…Pre-Filled For Ease

LibWizard. Yes! Send Surveys with Fields Already Pre-Filled

Getting Feedback Just Got A Whole Lot Easier!

Libraries mean it when they say they want patron feedback. The term gathering intelligence couldn’t be more appropriate than when considering feedback surveys. Expertly crafted instruction sessions are just the beginning of this essential relationship being built between the librarians and their patrons. How did they find out about the session? Did it deliver what was promised or marketed? What did it not cover that it should have? Would that participant recommend the session to a friend? Asking the right questions for your library is a critical piece of the puzzle. Post-instruction surveys are an invaluable source for anyone committed to customer service.


The full LibWizard system not only makes it easy to create unlimited surveys, forms, quizzes, and tutorials. Along with the many amazing new LibWizard features now, you can even elect to pre-fill some of the fields to further support ease of use.

Using The LibWizard Pre-Fill Feature in Your Surveys.

You can create surveys for website feedback, pre- and post-instruction, to gather feedback for events at your library, to learn more about what your patrons want to see more or less of in terms of services, etc. Chances are if you want to know what your users think, a survey will do the job. In many cases, it would be beneficial to both your team and the patrons themselves if some of the fields were pre-filled. It saves time. It assures a level of accuracy that might otherwise skew results or cause confusion. It allows your users to focus on the questions that serve the core purpose of the survey.

Here are some examples of fields that you might pre-fill. If you plan to send your survey to a specific subset of people, you can make things a bit easier by pre-filling, for instance, the course section.

You can pre-fill the name of the instructor, the semester, the type of event, location, etc. Some patrons hesitate to fill out surveys because they fear it will be time consuming.

In the interest of efficiency and to get as many participants as possible, make this pre-fill step part of your process. You need this information, but it can be handled nicely by this LibWizard feature.

Avoid survey fatigue! Only ask what you need to ask and pre-fill what you can.

How To Enable & Get Started With The LibWizard Pre-Fill Feature.

Our LibWizard FAQ states that,

You can pre-fill a survey’s fields by passing values in a URL, using either a custom URL string that you create, or an OpenURL link. When a user clicks on one of these links, they’ll be taken to your survey with the fields already filled out using the values passed from your URL.

The Custom URL option is just that. Values are contained inside parameters which are added to the end of the survey’s custom URL. Send that URL to your participants and the fields are pre-filled per your selections.

The OpenURL option lets you map survey fields to specific OpenURL parameters, subsequently passing citation information to your survey from, perhaps, your link resolver or catalog.

Our example here uses the Custom URL option. To get started, go to Survey Options > Advanced >Pre-Filled Survey via URL > Configure URL Settings.

Once inside the configuration screen, simply Enable the Pre-Filled Survey via URL option. Now you will see your survey questions and can proceed with deciding for which questions you want to go ahead and pre-select the answers. Make your choices. Click Generate custom URL string and voila! You can now send this URL to the ENG 101 class taught by Chester Copperpot with those fields already filled. 

To learn more about the Custom URL option, like how to swap the Field IDs used as the default identifier in the URL for the field short names, which can make it easier to know what’s in the URL string, or to look into the OpenURL option, which can be favorable for interlibrary loan request forms, for instance — make sure to read the LibWizard FAQ dedicated to this Pre-filled Fields feature.

You want patron feedback. It’s crucial to improving all your library’s efforts. Create surveys that are relevant to the patrons. Make them painless. And perhaps, more importantly, share with them the reasons their input is vital.

 

Using LibAnswers for Library Security

Keeping Track of Safety Issues Just Got Easier.

Libraries get their fair share of incidents that happen involving the safety of the staff, students and/or include the compromise of the building. Many institutions piece together a way to keep track of these via various reporting tools that range from spreadsheets to pen and paper recording, etc. You want to be able to take down what happened. It’s important to be able to add detailed information as you learn more. Ideally, it would be advisable to keep it all in a secure place.

Everyone cares. Everyone takes it seriously. But not everyone knows that there’s a great way to log and manage this safety incident reporting in the LibAnswers Platform.

Queue Up The Solution.

The system comes with one queue. It’s possible to have multiple queues in the back end of the LibAnswers Platform. You can contact sales@springshare.com to add a queue and designate this queue for logging library security incidents. By utilizing the features in LibAnswers, you can easily

  • Assign appropriate people to the special queue you’ve made to manage access to it.
  • Create a ticket — this will be the way you keep a manageable record of the incident.
  • Type up what happened in a quick customizable form. For Nature of Incident you can make options that include: Accident, Theft, Vandalism, etc.
  • Add details along the way. To the ticket, you can add — immediately or at a later date — photos, links to policies that apply or need to be referenced, a case number, internal notes, etc.
  • Add tags to tickets to help you and others find them, as necessary.

The LibAnswers Features That Make Active Recording and Alerting Possible.

Sometimes you can record an incident that’s already been resolved. A student employee had an accident and cut her finger. She was treated with soap and a bandage and she’s fine. Easy peasy. However, there are times when there is a lot more to it and this is when LibAnswers features come in handy.

Library Security is not written on to-do lists each day, rather, it should be a steady pursuit. You want to be able to record in as much detail as possible what happened. A patron came to the reference desk to say her laptop is missing. A staff librarian noticed a window is broken. A student ran into the library in a panic to tell a librarian she is being followed by a stranger. There was a verbal altercation that included inappropriate language between a patron and a librarian about admission to an event. Many incidents will need to be reported and then revisited with further details and status updates on the process toward resolution. LibAnswers can help you do that.

However, more than being able to add pictures, case numbers, and updates, the LibAnswers Platform has features that can help you diligently stay on top of incidents so you are always aware of these critical safety issues.

  • You can manually assign and transfer tickets — make sure they’re not bottlenecking or waiting for attention.
  • The Question Routing Field allows you to route a ticket to a specific person when field conditions you designate are met. For instance, you can route all incidents marked Accident to the Library Director. Talk about expediting!
  • You can create customized ticket alerts for a queue. Your queue — Library Security Incidents Log — is a crucial piece of the puzzle at your library. We provide 3 options for alert thresholds. First, a number of unclaimed tickets over a designated period of time. Set it at 5 in 120 minutes and the system will send an alert if it happens. Second, a keyword you choose is used. You can enter keywords like police or ambulance, etc. and then enter the email or phone number of the person you want to be alerted when those words are found in a new ticket. Third, automatic reminder emails can be set to remind a person, set of people or the ticket owner of open tickets, or unclaimed tickets or when it’s been days since the ticket was updated.

(Efficiently) Take Safety Seriously!

Keeping your staff and patrons safe is paramount. Libraries truly care about this. The LibAnswers Platform is flexible enough in design to help you record, track, and update your Library Security incidents efficiently. Alerts help you stay informed and focused. And, with statistics like turnaround time, date and time, source and form field ticket stats, and the ability to export stats — you’ll have data to analyze, too!

Hear How Two Public Libraries Are Using LibStaffer

Live Speaker Webinar Series May 22 and June 6

Learning By Example

Sometimes, the best way to understand how a tool can be used in your library is to see how someone else is using it in theirs.

To that end, we have two amazing speakers from the Arlington Public Library and the Marion County Public Library System each presenting on how they’re using LibStaffer at their libraries.

Join us for two opportunities to learn how other libraries are using Springy Tools, why they switched, and ways they’re using its unique features.

What’s LibStaffer?

LibStaffer is staff and service point scheduling tool designed to take the hard work out of scheduling so you have time to focus on more important projects. Organizing the reference desk schedule for next week, or covering John’s summer vacation, rotating early AM shifts so poor Mary isn’t stuck with the 8am’s every single day – is hard work, and it never ever ends.

LibStaffer’s powerful auto-scheduling tool understands staff preferences and their availability limitations so accurate schedules are created quickly and easily. Easily:

  • Outline who can work on which schedule and define staff availability including time-off;
  • Integrate with LibCal’s Appointment Scheduler so one-on-one consultations aren’t booked at the same time as a reference desk shift;
  • Enable Clocking In/Out with the LibStaffer Timeclock with IP & Geolocation functionality;
  • Create Workflow Forms that facilitate the entire life-cycle of a workflow process (like an employment application!);
  • …. and so much more!

These speakers will cover:

  • How they’re using LibStaffer across multiple branches and service desks;
  • What they were using originally (Excel Spreadsheets!) and why they moved to LibStaffer;
  • Their favorite LibStaffer time-saving features like the drag & drop tool and the auto-scheduler.

Register Today – Webinars Are 30min and Free!

Timing doesn’t work and can’t attend? Register anyway to receive the recording! Just choose, ‘Receive Recording’ from the sign-up form.

How Arlington Public Library Uses LibStaffer

When: Wednesday, May 22

Time: 1:30pm – 2:00pm U.S. ET

Register Todayhttps://calendar.springshare.com/calendar/training/arlington-public-library-uses-libstaffer.

Note: We’re using the awesome new Friendly URL feature for Calendar Events!


How Marion County Public Library System Uses LibStaffer

When: Thursday, June 6

Time: 1:00pm – 1:30pm U.S. ET

Register Today:

https://calendar.springshare.com/calendar/training/marion-county-public-library-system-uses-libstaffer.

We hope to see you during this special guest presenter’s webinar series! If not, be sure to visit this blog again as we’ll be posting a post-event recap with links to the video recordings.

Feed Your Data Cravings — With Springy Stats That Are Off The Charts!

Get Me Some Actionable Data…STAT!

This is the world we live in. We need proof to try the pudding. 15 years ago, people simply went to a restaurant, chose a vacuum, or took a gym class. Now, most people spend a considerable amount of time doing research before major and even minor purchases. Just think about how many reviews you’ve read lately for a mobile phone case. How many stars does it take for you to choose a taqueria? Forbes says, “82% of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they are about to make in-store.” Librarians have known for a long time that keeping statistics is important. Having actionable data is key.

Grid And Bear It.

Springshare understands how valuable metrics are to libraries. You’re in the service industry. It’s critical for you to keep track of usage, to measure growth, and to gather feedback. You have to be able to make assessments about which efforts are yielding positive results and which programs or classes are no longer popular. Springshare has statistics built into every tool. Since the love of data is now a very cool thing, we wanted to geek out and share some great charts and graphs you can dazzle people with at the staff meeting.

LibWizard allows you to easily build custom forms, surveys, quizzes, and tutorials. If you choose the Grid Field, you can get feedback on a number of related questions all at once. Looking at the data through the varied chart options can quickly help you make some decisions about, in this case, improvements to library instruction sessions. As we can see from this Post-Instruction Survey, the attendees thought the class was maybe a bit short. And, while they thought it had great content and examples, it didn’t have enough hands-on exercises and there wasn’t enough time for questions. How incredible would it be for your team to have this kind of evidence?

It’s All About The Filters.

LibCRM is our Customer Relationship Management tool designed specifically for libraries. It’s amazing what this system helps you keep track of from projects and tasks to the complexities of relationships and memberships to recording all the work you’re doing to be of service and build a rapport.

But this system isn’t just wowing people because of what it can hold. It’s surprising folks with what you can extract. You choose the filters and get the intelligence you need.

Here’s a report on Adjunct Faculty Who Don’t Communicate with the Library. Being able to run a report that can filter through scores of records to display these specifics is beneficial. You could then spearhead a project to boost your outreach that gives you a real place to begin.

Don’t Just READ Into It.

The READ Scale or Reference Effort Assessment Data has been around since about 2002 when an ARL (Association of Research Libraries) survey was conducted and unearthed the problem that the READ Scale solves.

They had determined that it was necessary to spell out the efforts being made by librarians to help answer patrons. This ensures an accurate assessment of the work each interaction entailed.

Since inception, the LibAnswers Platform has provided librarians with the ability to select the READ Scale number that corresponds with the activity when recording the transaction. If you’re not already using it. You should! Data is most helpful when it is quantitative — in this case measuring effort. It justifies the need for professional librarians and their invaluable expertise. Plus, having this knowledge helps with scheduling. It’s easy to look at the time stamp in the stats. When the most difficult questions are being asked, you can make sure there’s a manager around.

Now, go ahead and check out the Stats and Reports features in all your Springshare tools to get the data that you need!

LibAnswers Proactive Chat Increases User Engagement

If you’re looking for a way to increase user engagements, look no further than LibAnswers proactive LibChat widgets!

Create as many customizable chat widgets as you’d like, embed them anywhere (including https secure websites), and watch the chats roll in.

How do I make one?

It’s as easy as select, type, copy, and paste. Blammo – and you’re done!

  • Login to your LibAnswers system > LibChat from the Orange Command Bar > LibChat Widgets.
  • Select the Create New Widget Button.
  • Give your widget a name and choose either the button, slide-out tab, or floating chat widget display options.
    • Pro-tip: Give your widget a descriptive name so you can remember what style of chat widget it is, where’s it been embedded, and your autoload delay properties. Your patrons will never see the name on the public side. Your future self will thank you!
      • e.g. title: “Slide-Out Tab Widget: Right-Side, Auto-Delay (60second). Library Homepage.”
  • Go through your widget options but pay special attention to the feature titled “Autoload Delay (in seconds).” This is your proactive chat widget! Choose, in seconds, how long you want to wait before you engage your user with the widget prompt.
    • Pro-tip: For your library homepage, choose a longer autoload delay (60 – 120 seconds). For web resources were users tend to get “stuck” like your A-Z resource list or discovery layer, choose a shorter autoload delay (20 – 45 seconds).
  • You’re almost done! Take a minute and customize the language of your autoload delay window. Simply click the autoload preview in the right column to pop-out a window that allows you to customize the default language. This way, you can inform your users of how the chat works, that you’re there to help, and how easy it is to ask questions.
  • Make any additional customizations, including what happens when your LibChat widget is offline and click save.
  • Copy the Embed code > and you’re done!
  • Repeat the steps above to offer different and unique LibChat experiences on your various digital touch points. Create one proactive chat widget for your library homepage and a different one, with different help language, for your Database A-Z list!
    • Pro-tip: If you’re using the LibGuides A-Z list, login to LibGuides > Content > Databases A-Z List > Settings > LibChat Widget > to add your proactive LibChat widget to your LibGuides A-Z list. This is where giving your chat widget as descriptive a name as possible really helps you out!

Will it increase my user engagement?

While we can’t promise how your specific demographic will respond, recent research articles written by Michael Epstein from the University of San Diego’s Copley Library and another from Lydia Pyburn from The University of Texas at Arlington Library indicate that the answer is yes!

The Reference Department at the University of San Diego’s Copley Library implemented Proactive LibChat widgets and saw a 600% increase in chat engagements.1

The University of Texas at Arlington Library doubled their chat engagements from 4,020 (2015-2016) to 8,120 (2016-2017) after implementing proactive LibChat and for some months saw their incoming chats tripled.2

Are there examples of the LibAnswers Proactive LibChat widget I can check out?

Absolutely, there are probably loads more out there in SpringyLand…but here are just a few of our favorites!

College of the Mainland Library
Floating LibChat Widget w/ Custom Icons

Ashland University Library
Slide out Tab Widget

Where can I learn more about adding LibAnswers proactive LibChat widgets?

We’re hosting webinars in October with guest speaker Michael Epstein from the University of San Diego’s Copley Library. We’ll take a quick tour of LibAnswers, explore live library examples of LibAnswers Proactive LibChat widgets, and Michael Epstein will present on their use-case at the Copley Library Reference Department.

Citations

1. Epstein, Michael. “That thing is so annoying: How proactive chat helps us reach more users.” College & Research Libraries News [Online], 79.8 (2018): 436. Web. 3 Oct. 2018.

2. Pyburn, Lydia L. “Implementing a Proactive Chat Widget in an Academic Library.Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning [Online], 2018.

LibGuides CMS: Getting The Most From Groups Functionality

There are many excellent reasons why people choose (or upgrade to) LibGuides CMS. It has access controls, the LTI integration tool, comes with LibWizard Lite and so much more. However, the way the system allows you to create separate customizable groups is, to this day, one of the most popular draws.

LibGuides is so easy to use that our clients began to start imagining other ways they could use it. They’ve taken advantage of the flexibility and used it for their websites. Sometimes departments within the library, like Special Collections or Reference, would ask their system admins if they could build guides but they wanted to have their own banner. LibGuides CMS makes this possible along with a variety of other thoughtful uses.

Build an Intranet the Team Will Really Use.

Using LibGuides CMS for your Intranet platform makes sense on so many levels. Why divert them to, yet, another interface? The staff already knows how to build LibGuides. Now, they can build guides on Professional Development Days and on Vacation and Sick Day Policies. Imagine encouraging the team to build not just a profile box but a whole guide that includes more than what you’d see on a resume. It could include hobbies, photos of favorite trips, books on their must-read lists, work playlists and more. Your intranet would connect people and help them truly get to know one another. Plus, you could embed LibCal calendars to keep everyone on the same page and LibAnswers FAQs to help with onboarding new hires. You could embed LibWizard forms or surveys to get team feedback on new projects up for consideration. Your Intranet group could be a real hang out spot.

Everyone Loves to Play in a Sandbox.

If you’ve been thinking about updating your look and feel but you are not sure if your ideas are executable or if it will look too sparse or, conversely, too crowded, etc., then you’re probably wishing you had a staging area to play around in and test. With LibGuides CMS, you can create a sandbox group. Then using access controls, you can lock it down with password protection or IP address restriction. You can build and modify and adjust as you wish without disrupting the guides your patrons are currently using.

Organize Your Guides in a New Way.

Some clients are using the groups functionality in LibGuides CMS to make finding what you need more efficient and clear-cut. They have a group for Subject guides and another group for Course guides and they can keep going. You could put all the General Library Information guides in a group and/or build a group for Events and Instruction. On the public-facing side, it would be an organized person’s dream.

It’s Not Old, It’s Archived.

We’re hearing from more and more libraries that a digital archive solution is something that’s becoming a real priority. The University of Oklahoma’s Jason Henderson presented Digital Archives on a Dime at our virtual conference, SpringyCamp, regarding his experience building, hosting and publishing a digital archive using Internet Archive and the LibGuides CMS groups functionality. He emphasized that he was mindful of their budget, wanted it to be easy to use for their patrons, and that it was critical for the team that it be easy to set up and maintain.

Don’t Be Afraid to Branch Out.

Public libraries make immensely helpful LibGuides on taxes and genealogy and National Poetry Month. However, what public libraries do best is hone in on the needs of the people they serve and those needs are often particular to the branches. LibGuides CMS allows you to make individual groups for each branch. They can have their own banner, header, footer and they can have their own looks and feels or they can have a consistent look that threads them together. Best of all, if a branch has a large senior population or, perhaps, another branch has a lot of veterans or young families, the librarians can build guides in the confines of their own group to cater to them.

Speak the Same Language.

LibGuides CMS allows groups to have a fair amount of independence. They can have their own URLs and home pages with a choice of navigation layout. What’s more, they can be customized in different languages, too! We have clients that, legally, must provide their guides in both French and English, for instance. LibGuides CMS works for them because they can build a group for each language and then they can add a link to the other in case a user wants to switch from the English to the French. Et voila! Let your imagination drive for a stretch and make a targeted list of all the ways — internal and public-facing — you can envision using LibGuides CMS groups at your library. Nothing else will be so easy…or end up looking so good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips For A Successful Year of Managing Student Employees with LibStaffer

Very soon, the library will be abuzz. You will be standing before the bright, eager faces of your student employees. They will be looking to you and your colleagues to guide them through a year of what, everyone hopes, will be a productive, fun, learning experience as they assist you in the library. Some of them will be new. While others will be returning from last year. All of them will need your organizational skills to get the hive running smoothly.

We’ve come up with some excellent tips to help you use LibStaffer to tackle this influx of additional staff. Unless this is your first time having student assistants, you probably already have rules for managing student workers. What we’re offering is a short list of things to know about how LibStaffer is designed to make scheduling the staff as painless as possible as you get ready for the new school year.

#1 Sync Back and Relax

Perhaps you already knew that you can sync your LibStaffer with your Outlook/Exchange calendar. However, many students on campuses use Google Calendar — so why not sync LibStaffer up with it.  The Google Calendar sync will pull their LibStaffer schedule into their GCalendar so they can see their upcoming shifts without needing to log in to LibStaffer. Plus they can opt to sync busy times. Basically, a student will be marked as unavailable if s/he has time blocked off in the Google Calendar that overlaps with any given shifts. This way, they can add their class schedule, study times, family visits, club/sport meetings, and more to their GCalendar and have it push to LibStaffer so they won’t be booked for a shift when they’re unavailable. It’s always a good idea to connect to what the students are using every day as it yields a more complete picture of availability.

#2 Account for Changes

Student assistants are a great help but they do pose a specific set of challenges. Namely, their schedules can be very unpredictable. LibStaffer understands that a tool designed to organize people needs to be flexible or it just won’t work. Period. Fortunately, the system has options built-in that you can elect to enable or not based on your preferences. Consider allowing student workers to swap shifts, give up and pick up shifts and even split shifts. They’re all possibilities in LibStaffer. Changes to a schedule used to be one of the reasons staffing student workers was a maddening job. But once you not only account for changes but actually plan for them and put options in place that make it an organized piece of the puzzle, you’ll find it won’t require any ibuprofen after all.

#3 Streamline Your Communications

Communicating with your student workers is important. LibStaffer helps streamline the task by making it possible to email everyone assigned to a specific schedule. So, if you have a Reference Desk Schedule, you can send a note out to the whole team right from inside the system. Ask them to remember to put in their time off requests for the month or share a newly altered schedule with the team. You can do it from LibStaffer and you don’t have to email students who, for instance, don’t work the Reference Desk.

#4 Spell It Out

It’s really helpful for student assistants to know what is expected of them during a given shift. You may have tasks that you want to be performed that are particular to the opening or closing shifts. You may have projects that you want to be completed in the slow afternoons. Getting the most out of your student workers is possible when you keep everyone focused and informed.

#5 Make Things Easier On Yourself

You can always fill unfilled shifts, manually. There are all sorts of features in place to help you do that efficiently. However, don’t be afraid to take the even easier road by using the Auto Scheduler to assign student workers to shifts! You can select a date range. Perhaps you want to get the next 3 weeks scheduled because you are going to a conference and want it done before you go. You can set limits for the number of shifts per day that a staff member can work. You can ask the system to place all the favorited students first and, if you want, you can decide not to allow anyone to be scheduled in back-to-back shifts if that’s important to you. If you don’t know which shifts are preferred by student workers, you can allow them to favorite themselves. Then, click the submit button. The Auto Scheduler is going to do all the work for you taking into account all the information in the system. It won’t schedule a person who has the day off, has exceeded their maximum hours, or is scheduled at another desk already at that time. Voila!

#6 Reinvent Clocking In and Clocking Out

Springshare knows it’s essential for you to have a way for your student employees to be able to clock in and out for the day. We recommend that you set up a particular station designated for this. To help the Managers out, LibStaffer has a great little window where you can see — at a glance — who is currently clocked in. Imagine being able to have a quick look at any time of the day and being able to see that information. Plus, we all know that people slip up on occasion and forget to clock in or out. We’ve got you covered for those scenarios, too! You have an Admin button in that window that allows you to clock a student in or out on their behalf! LibStaffer is designed to make it so that you can manage your service point staffing with ease. And — with any luck — a productive, fun, learning experience can be had by all!

Learn More About LibStaffer

LibStaffer is chock-a-block full of features and has new exciting updates you should check out. To learn more about it, contact sales@springshare.com or drop into one of the special LibStaffer webinars we have scheduled soon. You’ll learn how LibStaffer makes organizing service point scheduling a breeze. Remember, if you can’t make it to the webinars, you can still go ahead and register and then click watch video to have a recording sent to you.

Tips for Promoting Internal Staff Communication, Collaboration, and Community

Are you engaged?

It’s funny to say, but people are always talking about communication. In every relationship dynamic, the secret…is always communication — with your child, with your clients, with pets, with other countries, with your barista. Are you communicating effectively? Even more to the point, how can you communicate better?

This has always been a trending topic and it’s even more of a challenge now. With so many ways to reach out and because the traditional work environment is morphing with flex hours and telecommuting, virtual possibilities, it helps to reboot the conversation.

The one thing you will learn quickly is that it’s all about engagement. You have to be engaged in the solutions you put forth or the team won’t be either. So, if you really care about boosting internal staff communication to improve collaboration and create a sense of community, then you’re already on the right track. You care. The sooner we stop talking about communication and make improving it a real priority, the sooner we will see the wonderful effect it has on team productivity and morale.

The leaders have to lead.

If you want to encourage active internal communication amongst the staff, you’ll want to get in the mix. There are teams all over the world who find themselves with new directives sprinkled with enthusiastic words about the new intranet tool that has been licensed — so the company can better connect. It improves efficiency, they’re told. And, while this may be true, so many of those sharing the new mandate will never be seen actively participating in the intranet. They say the best way to lead is by example. Well, whether you intend to or not, you’re always leading by example. So get in there and show them how it’s done!

LibGuides CMS has Groups functionality. Combine that with its Access Controls feature and you can create a locked down group and use it as a staff intranet! Many libraries are starting to do this as it’s super convenient.

  • Your internal group in LibGuides CMS can be a place where you get to know each other better. You can have each team member build a guide where s/he shares not just education and work experience, but also hobbies and interests, favorite TV shows and go-to Karaoke songs, photos of family or pets or a favorite vacation vista and more.
  • You can facilitate collaboration on projects that should be tackled next or get feedback on your latest instruction session idea by enabling Discussion Boards. You can engage with your team right in your site by encouraging open discussions or you can post specific questions. Remember, you can enable Discussion Boards on as many guides in your intranet group as you wish!

  • Cultivate a fun internal voice by using the blogging tool. Maybe your library organized a particularly successful event recently. Or, maybe you had excellent reviews on a recent class you offered. Have the folks in charge write a blog post about it. This gives staff a chance to share and shine!
  • It’s your intranet, what do you want to use it for? Ensuring an actively accessed intranet is about making it a “place” you’d want to hang out. Of course, you can build guides that hold documents and files and links and images pertaining to a current project. But alongside those, be creative about your guides. Perhaps the Director wants to build a guide about what’s on the horizon with tabs for each quarter? Give your retiring colleague an opportunity to build a farewell guide! Maybe you should start a staff book club or book review guide! Have fun! This is where communication leads to community.

The new water cooler.

Do offices even have the proverbial water cooler anymore? At Springshare, we’re chatting all the time, but from our desks or devices. Don’t curtail the chatting. Instead, foster it. It’s much faster than opening/sending/replying to emails. LibChat, a component of the LibAnswers Platform, not only helps you answer your patrons efficiently, it also allows you to chat amongst yourselves.

  • You can transfer questions from patrons to another operator. This is useful if there is someone better suited to answering the question online with you or in case you are about to go on your break and you need to start feeding questions to the next person on duty.
  • You can ask a colleague a question — behind the scenes — to help you answer the patron.
  • You can chat with all LibAnswers colleagues that are online at the time or initiate a chat with someone in particular.

A mixed bag is good. People will chat with each other about projects, ask for feedback, share an experience. But they’ll also send a birthday shout out and ask each other about playlists that move the day along. The important thing is that it’s a happy work environment. People who know and like each other want to collaborate.

Plus, the LibChat Operator Console was just updated with an entirely new interface making internal/staff-only chats that much easier.

Check in — so they don’t check out.

You can set up tools and you can implement strategies to improve communication in your workplace, but one of the best things you can do is frequently check in with the team. Use LibWizard to create an anonymous survey and ask folks if something is missing from the intranet. See if there’s a page they never use. Use the multi-select checkbox field to ask them which portions of the intranet they find most useful or interesting.

Not only will it help you improve by filling in the blanks or kicking out stuff that’s just taking up space, but it lets your team know you really do care about nurturing a productive and supportive and — dare we say — fun workplace.