Archive for Tips and Tricks

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.

Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing – Tip #3: Is Your Library Holi’Ready?

Avoid Holiday Stress

A big part of holiday planning is knowing where to be, and when. You’ve got dinner plans at your friend Tina’s house on the 24th at 6pm and latkes at your cousin Tim’s abode on the last day of Hannukkah. Coordinating all of those invitations and appearances requires a lot of planning and forethought. Will the train be packed at 5pm causing you to be late? Should you take 95N instead of 93N so you can swing by your favorite wine shop for a hostess gift? Can you fit your workplace New Year’s Eve party AND your family’s party on the same night?

Planning, Planning, Planning. Stress, Stress, Stress.

And just imagine, your library guests are under the same amount of pressure as you – plus they’re trying to find time to swing by the library as well! Maybe they’re trying to pick up some light reads to enjoy during the break, or studying for exams, or even attending your super awesome’sauce events! Whatever their reason for swinging by, you want to make sure you’re alleviating and not adding to their stress.

So the question is, is your library Holi’Ready?

Tip #3: Getting Your Library Holi’Ready

Getting your library Holi’ready doesn’t mean elaborate decorations, traveling snack-carts, or tons of holiday events. Good on you if you are (seriously, awesome job!), but even the smallest things can have a big impact and help to reduce the stress your library guests are already under.

Are Your Holiday Hours…. Everywhere?

LibCal-Hours

LibCal Hours Module: Today’s Hours Widget.

Your library hours are probably available on a hundred different webpages. And if you’re updating them to reflect your special holiday schedule, there’s a good chance you’ll miss a few places. And inevitably, a library patron will find that one webpage where the hours haven’t been updated and they’ll show up at your doors at 9pm – well past closed. They’re going to be peeved, upset, and frustrated.

And rightfully so! Most likely, their entire day is planned down to the minute – so if they found a webpage that says you’re going to be open, and then you’re not, that throws their entire day (and probably subsequent days) into the lurch.

A great way to ensure that you’re updating all your webpages to reflect your current library hours is to use the LibCal Hours ModuleThe Hours module let’s you define your standard hours, special holiday hours, and even one-off exceptions like “Aaaccck, we have to close early because a Snowa’caine is coming!”. Simply define all your hours, for all future dates and then grab an hours widget and embed that widget into those aforementioned webpages. As your hours update, day-by-day, the hours module will automagically update.

Say goodbye to outdated webpages showing inaccurate hours and say hello to happy patrons!

Text ‘Holidays’ to Get Library-Related Information

Back in 2011, about 73% of American adults and nearly almost all young adults (95%) send and receive text-messages according to a Pew Research Report. Fast-forward 6 years, and those numbers can only have increased. In fact, Forbes reported in 2015 that Millennials text more and talk less because they see phone calls “as overly intrusive, even presumptuous”.

Bottomline, if they want to communicate with your library – they’d prefer to do it as efficiently as possible and preferably over text-message.

If your library is using LibAnswers, be sure to take advantage of SMS Automatic Keywords. This way, your patrons can text a keyword, like ‘Holiday’, to your library’s SMS number and receive an auto-response with all the relevant information. Navigate to Admin > Queues > Select Your Queue > SMS Tab > SMS Automatic Keywords to set those up.

It’s fast and easy for them, and no staff monitoring of your library’s SMS service to boot. This 2010 interview with Johnson & Wales University Providence shows how their using SMS keywords in the library – it’s an oldie, but goodie!

Be sure to advertise your keywords inside the library and on your webpages too.

Pro-Tip: Update the automatic response periodically to entice your users to text again, and again – always getting new information with each one.

LibAnswers SMS Automatic Responses: Each Keyword gets up to two auto-responses = 300 characters.

Do Librarians Know All Relevant Holiday Information?

If you’re anything like most Americans, you suffer from inbox fatigue. You’re inundated with emails – whether it’s newsletters, marketing emails, SPAM, or internal communication that could have been done f2f, your inbox is exploding. In fact, 205 billion emails are sent every day. Yup, that’s billion…. with a B. 

Can you remember the last time you achieved inbox zero? For some folks, that day is yet to come.

So, if you’re trying to communicate important holiday information – try and give your colleagues a break and take it outside of email. Getting your library Holi’ready means getting your staff ready too.

1. Use Your Admin Alert Boxes!

Inside your LibGuides, LibAnswers, LibCal, and LibStaffer tools – you have access to an Admin Alert box. Head over to Admin > Admin Alert Box or System-Settings (depending on the tool).

This way, your colleagues can see custom alerts letting them know about important holiday information like hours, food drives, events, etc.

LibAnswers Admin Alert Box right on the Dashboard.

 

2. Discussion Boards in LibGuides (CMS Only)

For LibGuides CMS users, you have access to an internal discussion board. This is great for housing and storing internal discussions related to this holiday season – such as staffing schedules, holiday staff parties, and what types of events to throw at the library.

LibGuides CMS discussion boards are searchable and can be keyword tagged for sorting/filtering. So if you’re trying to remember, “What were our holiday hours last year?” you can simply login, filter on your keyword ‘Holiday’ and see the entire discussion thread and final resolution.

Remember, email was never intended to be a permanent archive – so if you’ve got saved emails in your inbox from 2008, it might be time to consider an alternative approach. 😛

LibGuides CMS Discussion Boards to Create an Internal/Searchable Staff Intranet

 

If you have any additional suggestions for getting your library holi’ready, comment below!

That’s all for this edition of ‘Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing tips’! Hopefully you enjoyed Tips #1 and #2 and tune in next year when we do it again!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing – Tip #2: Cultivating a Homemade Experience

Crafting

Nothing says the holidays more than homemade. Whether you’re baking rugelach, hand-crafting thoughtful gifts, or DIY’ing your decorations – you’re sending the message that your guests are special and deserving of homemade. Nothing beats homemade, but it can take a lot of effort, time, and work!

If you’re looking to bring that ‘homemade’ feeling to your library, you’re probably daunted by the idea of providing a homemade experience for each and every one of your patrons! How will you do it?! Well, a great way to offer a homemade experience is to provide tailored services. So while you’re not knitting individual items for each individual patron, you’re still providing a tailored experience just for them.

In fact, a 2016 article in Forbes magazine on 2017 technology trends predicted the ‘everything on-demand’ trend that definitely took off this year. Apps to deliver food, laundry, a ride, movie streaming, and more.

So, our next tip in our ‘Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing’ is all about delivering that tailored homemade and on-demand experience.

Tip #2: Cultivating a Homemade Experience

You might already be familar with creating LibGuides tailored-made for specific courses or assignments, but there are loads of other Springy tools you can use to bring that feeling of Hygge into your Library and for your users.

Create Holiday-Specific Mobile Micro Sites

The 2016 Pew Research Center Libraries Report showed that 49% of people accessed a public library website from their handheld mobile devices – smartphones and tablets. The 2017 Horizon Report highlights a 2016 StatCounter study which found that 51.3% of all web browsing worldwide took place on mobile phones and tablets, surpassing desktop web browsing for the first time. So, mobile access is important!

In case you didn’t know, LibGuides and LibGuides CMS subscribers have access to an optional add-on module called the mSite Builder. The mSite Builder allows you to create multiple mobile ‘micro’ sites for users to access on their smartphones.

There are tons of way you could use the mSite Builder. You could create a microsite for a walking tour of your library, or one showcasing upcoming library events, a fun scavenger hunt, or even a mobile conference site if you’re hosting!

But, what about creating a microsite focused on the library’s holiday events and activities?

Holiday Microsite: Getting Hygge With It!

Link to your special holiday microsite off of your regular mobile website to deliver a homemade, tailored, and on-demand experience to your patrons.

Plus, you can embed Font-Awesome icons on your mobile page menu to add a visual element.

Librarian On-Demand – Uber Reference Using LibAnswers SMS

If your library promotes roving reference, why not rebrand it as Uber reference? Everyone is calling themselves the ‘uber of something’ these days and it immediately brings to mind “they’re coming to me”. Plus, nothing says tailored library services than literally showing up at their library location with research goodies just for them.

Add signage throughout your library encouraging users to text-a-librarian for uber reference! If they text their location and what they need help with, you can reply back with an estimated arrival time of a librarian.

LibAnswers SMS

Uber Reference using LibAnswers SMS

 

Meet Me Under the My Scheduler

LibCal’s My Scheduler lets you set up your own personal schedule of availability so patrons can book time with you for one-on-one consultations. You can arrange My Schedulers by location, branch, or even by topic – so patrons don’t need to know who they’re meeting with, just that they need someone who’s great at setting up eReaders.

But what about patrons who can’t physically come to the library. It is the busy holiday season after all and in some parts of the northern hemisphere it’s brutally cold! How can you provide one-on-one tailored services to people who won’t, or physically can’t, come into the library for help?

Create a LibCal My Scheduler Category called ‘Online’ – and encourage patrons to make appointments with librarians, virtually! Using your library’s webinar technology tool or even something simple (and free!) like Join.Me.

Simply create a LibCal My Scheduler Group called ‘Online Appointments’ and assign librarians to it. Patrons can select that category when scheduling an appointment.

LibCal My Scheduler – Online Category for Providing Online-Only Assistance

 

Have fun exploring how these Springshare tools help you bring that homemade, tailored, library experience designed to make them feel like it’s all ‘just for them‘ into the library. If you can think of other ways your library can get Hygge with it, drop a note in the comments below!

That’s all for this edition of ‘Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing’ Tips! Come back next week for Tip #3!

Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing – Tip #1: Getting Emoji’tional

Emojis

While your library might be winding down from the hectic schedule of finals or if you’re experiencing the general slowdown of traffic and questions typical during this time period – here are some quick (and fun!) things you can do, right now.

We’ll be releasing our Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing as a blog series from now till Dec 22nd! So come back and check out our other Springy Tips.

Tip #1 – Getting Emoji’tional 😉

Emoji’s can be an effective way to communicate with patrons and coworkers. They’re fun, expressive, and most importantly – compact. Universally agreed upon emoji symbols can help us convey a sentiment, or emotion, without having to phrase it in a convoluted or ambiguous sentence. So, not only does it save you time, but it can help prevent confusion from indecipherable sentences. For example, if you write that you’re heading over to a reference desk meeting and I reply with an emoji thumbs-up 👍👍, you can ascertain that I understand and am confirming your message. All parties are on the same page! Time magazine recently reported a study by Harris Poll showing that 36% of millennials ages 18-34 who use “visual expressions” say that those images better communicate their thoughts and feelings than words do.

On the flip side, using emoji’s improperly can land you in some hot water if you’re not using emojis that everyone can understand or are universally accepted. For example, in the same example above, if I had replied to your message with a party popper 🎉🎉 – does that mean that I’m happy you’re leaving to go to this meeting? Or am I wishing you good luck? Sending a party popper to that message just doesn’t make sense. As the recipient to my ambiguous emoji reply, you’re justifiably confused.

So, like with any communication tool, it’s important to consider your message and how the recipient of your message will interpret it. When in doubt, don’t use any emojis at all.

Accessing Your Built-In Emoji Keyboard

You’re probably very familiar with your emoji keyboard built into your smartphone device. But, did you know that your desktop computer also has a built-in emoji keyboard? Well, it does! Here’s how you can access it!

Step One: Be sure your cursor is inside an editing/typing window – like LibAnswers SMS Ticket Reply, or LibCal Social Publishing Field.

Step Two: Keyboard Shortcuts for Accessing the Emoji Keyboard

Windows Users Mac Users
  • Windows Button + semicolon (;)
    or
  • Windows Button + period (.)
  • CMD + Control + Spacebar

Step Three: Double-click to select your emojis, choosing as many as you want. You’ll notice the emojis being added to your text-editor. When you’re done, click to close the emoji keyboard.

Mac Computer Emoji Keyboard

Using Emojis In Your Springshare Tools

Now that you know how you can access your emoji keyboard, let’s have fun exploring all the different ways you can use emojis in your Springshare tools.

1. LibAnswers

There are many places that you can use emojis when replying to patron inquires inside of LibAnswers. Three places that come to mind are the SMS/Text-Message Tickets, Social Media Management, and inside of LibChat.

Additionally, using emojis in more ‘informal’ communication like text-messages, and social media posts can help users feel more connected to your content. In that same Time Magazine article, they reported that “the majority of people across age groups also said they feel ‘more connected’ to people they frequently message when using emojis and GIFs.”

In Your SMS/Text-Message Replies

LibAnswers SMS ticketing functionality allows you to answer patron-initiated texts natively inside the LibAnswers platform. Bottom-line, if you can type…you can text.

While replying to a patron inquiry, consider adding an emoji! Remember, text-messaging was the original birthplace of emojis, so using emojis in your reply will appear natively in the patron’s smartphone messaging app.

Adding Emojis to your LibAnswers SMS/Text-Message Replies

 

In Your Social Media Posts/Replies

If emojis were born in text-message, they grew to adulthood on social media. In your LibAnswers Social Media Management Tool, consider adding emojis to your Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest Posts and Replies. Remember, users feel comfortable when communicating with people who use emojis. And from our recent social media post, it’s important to be authentic. Emojis in your social media posts are a great way to communicate with patrons in a casual, informal, and authentic manner.

Emojis in Twitter - LibAnswers Social Media Management Posting

In Your LibChat Messages

In case you didn’t know, LibAnswers’ LibChat comes with built-in emoji support – but it’s limited to just the smiley face emojis. Use your built-in emoji keyboard to add more visuals to your chat convos! 👍

Built-in Emoji Support in LibAnswers’ LibChat

 

2. LibCal

Your library’s calendar events are an ideal spot for integrating some emoji fun! Remember, context is important – so it’s probably not a good idea to add emojis in a calendar event advertising the library’s counseling services.

In Your LibCal Calendar Events

When advertising your LibCal calendar events, consider adding emojis to the built-in Social Media posting integration.

Social Media Integration built-in to LibCal Calendars.

 

3. LibWizard

When asking patrons to fill out Library feedback forms or surveys – consider adding emojis to the radio and checkbox options!

As a tip, don’t replace words entirely with emojis as some user’s browsers might not be able to display them. Always use them in ‘conjunction’ with text unless you’re 100% certain that the emojis you’re using are compliant across all apps.

Adding emojis to the LibWizard Choices Options Fields.

Have fun poking around your Springshare tools and explore all the ways you can use emojis! And remember to have fun! 🎊🎉🎈

 

That’s all for this edition of ‘Tis the Season for (spring)Sharing’ Tips! Come back later this week for Tip #2!

Tips for Designing LibGuides for Children

The look and design of your LibGuides will change depending on your audience. If you’re designing LibGuides for adults, graduate students, or advanced learners – you’ll focus more heavily on library resources, advanced searching techniques, and information literacy skill reinforcement.

When designing LibGuides for children, think bright, colorful, engaging, and entertaining.

No matter what children are doing online, whether its entertainment or education, they’re looking to have fun. Your LibGuide should be simple to use and exciting. If it’s not, you run the risk of them going elsewhere – to a webpage that can hold their short attention spans and fulfill their instant gratification needs.

So, when designing your LibGuide – dig deep and think back to when you were a child. Let’s cover a few tips for designing LibGuides for children.

1. Design for Appropriate Ages

Remember when you were 12 and someone gave you a gift meant for a 7 year old?! Gasp, the horror! You’re a pre-teen, not a baby!! Well, the same principle applies to your LibGuides. One size does not fit all, so consider creating different LibGuides for each age group. Furthermore, what holds the attention of a 7year old is going to be totally different than what attracts a 10year old. Create LibGuides CMS groups to customize the look & feel of each group of guides for each age group.

Example Guides Customized by Age Group

One great example that comes to mind is the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District LibGuides System. They’ve created different groups for PreK, K-5, and 6-12 age groups that all have a different look and feel.

Las Vegas County Public Library LibGuides

Las Vegas Clark County Public Library has different customizations for each age LibGuides CMS age group

2. Use Bright Colors & Images

Children respond to bright primary and secondary colors. Think red, blue, yellow, green, purple, and orange. Avoid muted colors and think bright saturated color schemes. Don’t skip over accessibility concerns, because if an adult can’t read purple text on a yellow background, then a child won’t be able to either.

3. Use Images to Create a Call to Action

Try to avoid lots of ‘copy’ and consider using images to create a call to action. There are loads of free tools you can use to create beautiful icons, and you don’t need to be a graphic designer to use them!

Examples:

Trinity Grammar School Uses Large Icons to guide Students

Canadian International School uses awesome icons to communicate library resources to students.

4. Incorporate Interactive Elements

Children want to play, plain and simple. Even when they’re learning, they learn better in a game’ified environment. Consider adding interactive polls, embedded videos, interactive widgets and activities to enrich their learning experience.

Moffat Library of Washingtonville adds interactive poll assets to every book asset to create a ‘Battle of the Books’ environment.

5. Consider ‘Characters’

Young children respond to characters and storylines. Creating a rich ‘story’ helps to create a connection between them, your content, and the learning outcomes. Consider using LibGuides blogs to create ongoing blog posts around a library character or story element.

The Harker School’s blog features the Harker Eagle, the school’s mascot.

6. HAVE FUN!

Above all, when creating a LibGuide designed for children – have fun with it! Unleash your inner child and think big, bold, bright, engaging, and entertaining.