Archive for Tips and Tricks

“No Cover Art” Placeholder Images for Books

Even though you have options to use cover art for books from both Syndetics and Amazon, there are some titles for which there are no covers available. So, we created a few placeholder images you can use instead. This is useful if you have 3 or so books in your Books from the Catalog box, and two have covers while the 3rd one does not. In order for all items to align nicely within a box, it would be helpful to have an image to use for the 3rd cover. Here are the cover art images you can use for this, depending on which cover placeholder you like, and what size you need:

small
(94px)
Cover art url: http://lgimages.s3.amazonaws.com/nc-sm.gif
medium
(187px)
Cover art url: http://lgimages.s3.amazonaws.com/nc-md.gif
small
(94px)
Cover art url: http://lgimages.s3.amazonaws.com/gc-sm.gif
medium
(187px)
Cover art url: http://lgimages.s3.amazonaws.com/gc-md.gif

This is where you should insert one of the above urls, depending on which you want to use:

Embedding Wolfram Alpha Search Widget Inside your LibGuides

You have probably heard about Wolfram Alpha by now. It is a new search engine/technology – a “computational knowledge engine that draws on multiple sources to answer user queries directly.” (quote from their website).  Some people think it’s the next big thing in search, others disagree, but one thing is true – it’s a neat technology. Recently, the folks behind it released the Wolfram Alpha widgets which can be embedded into any website to allow visitors to query the Wolfram Alpha search engine from anywhere. http://www.wolframalpha.com/addtoyoursite.html

We have prepared step-by-step instructions for embedding the Wolfram Alpha search widget into your LibGuides. You can find the instructions at the following url:

http://help.libguides.com/content.php?pid=76937&sid=569946.

Enjoy!

Item Linking and Reusing of Content

After a few months of working on this (thank you to all our clients who suggested and contributed to the idea), I am very pleased to announce a major step in the evolution of LibGuides: item-level linking and reusing of content in the system.

Say what? Here’s the scoop… Previously, you were able to “link to” (i.e. reuse) the LibGuides pages and the LibGuides content boxes. For example, you’d create a page (or a box) on one guide and then simply “link” to it on any other guide/page (i.e. make it appear on another guide). The neat thing about this is that any changes to the original page/box would be instantly reflected on all “linked” pages/boxes. That saved you a lot of effort when creating new content. Well, now you can do the same with individual Links and Documents – “add once use anywhere” type of thing. This is a rather major new functionality which will make creating and maintaining your guides even easier.

reuselinks

When you are adding a new link (or a new document) the dialog will look something like the screenshot above. If you want to reuse an existing link (or a document) click on the “Reuse Existing” tab and just start typing the name of the item you want to reuse. The system will search for it and give you the list of all matches to pick from. Pretty cool stuff.

As part of this upgrade we also added an administrative screen to “Manage Assets”. Admins can go to My Admin -> Admin Toolbox -> Manage Assets page, and see where each Link/Rss/Podcast/Video/Document appears and on which guides it is linked to (if any). This is a welcome addition to the administrative toolbox because it enables admins to get an instant overview of what appears where in their system (and where it is linked to, i.e. reused).

We didn’t stop there, either. In addition to this major new feature of reusing links and documents, we have also added a new feature when adding a  new Video/Rss Feed/Podcast item to your guide. Now, whenever you go to add a new video (or a new rss feed or a new podcast) you will be able to search the system for any existing videos/rss/podcasts to copy. For example, the new “Add Video” dialog looks like this:

reusevideo

You start typing the title of the video (or rss feed/podcast) and the system searches the LibGuides community to see if someone has already added it. Then, when you find what you were looking for the system automatically gives you the code to include inside your guide.

This means you can now search the LibGuides content database of web 2.0 media (videos, rss feeds, podcasts) to include inside your guides. Granted we’re not YouTube (yet 😉 but the amount of content created in LibGuides is growing by leaps and bounds (for example, there are over 800,000 links in the system already) and the more content there is the more everybody can benefit from it.

One last note on this new Video/Rss/Podcast search. The searching for Links and Documents (for reuse) is limited to your own system (i.e. no content from other institutions is included when you search for other links and documents), but the Video/Rss/Podcast search is community-wide. In other words, it will search the entire LibGuides community (the content from 500+ institutions to date). We figured that most, if not all, of these videos and other web 2.0 media are already publicly available (thru YouTube and the like) so there’s no reason why you couldn’t search for them in LibGuides as well, even though they are added by another institution in many cases. Please let us know what you think of this and if there is a concern about privacy (or any other aspect that we’re missing). We can easily limit these searches to your own institution only, if there are issues involved or if the majority of people would rather have it that way.

Thank you again for using LibGuides and thanks to all who contributed to this major new milestone in the development of the system. Many new exciting possibilities for the use (and reuse) of LibGuides are now within reach with this addition of the Item Linking and Reusing of Content. As always, let us know what you think – support at springshare dot com.

Updating the LibGuides Facebook Apps.

Some of you may notice that our three Facebook applications are unstable (or even not working) for the next couple of weeks. Do not be alarmed – we are working on updating (in fact, re-writing) all three of our FB apps to take advantage of the new Facebook API. It was frustrating to have to change the code all the time because Facebook API kept changing (from the original specifications, in the early days) so we had to scrap the old code and re-write the whole thing.

We will do our best to not have to make people re-install the applications but this may be unavoidable, unfortunately. We will post and update on this blog soon, when the apps are finished, but I just wanted to give you a heads up so you know what’s going on.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns – support at springshare dot com.

Internet Explorer Browser Caching Issue

In the last few weeks we had several problem reports where users said that the previously deleted content magically reappears on their guides, or that text entered into the rich text editor reverts to its previous version (and/or that text changes are not being saved), or that the list of tabs is not updating after making changes to it, etc. All these (and a few other) issues have one thing in common (and the same fix) – your browser (mostly Internet Explorer)  is caching web pages so your newly entered content gets overwritten with the cached version of the same page which your browser saved earlier in the session.

If using Internet Explorer to edit your guides, it is very important (make that critically important) to make sure your browser is not caching pages. We have instructions about this on the login page (under the “Important information for Internet Explorer Users”) but it seems a lot of people miss it there, so here are the detailed instructions on how to prevent IE from caching pages. Please take a moment and make sure your IE settings are as described below:

1) In your IE, select Tools -> Internet Options. A new window should pop up, which looks like this:

2) Click on the “Settings” button circled above. This should open up another pop-up window which looks like this:

3) Make sure the the option “Every time I visit the webpage” is selected. Then click the OK button which will close this window, and then click the “Apply” and “OK” buttons on the previous window.

4) Lastly, please restart your browser and you should be good to go.

Google Scholar Content Box & ‘Linked Pages’ Feature

Thanks to the continued (excellent) feedback from our clients, we are pleased to announce the availability of two new features in LibGuides:

1) Google Scholar Content Box. This content box enables users to search the Google Scholar database from LibGuides. The librarian can also create a “default query” for users of Google Scholar. The query will appear when the visitor loads the box. Since Google has not yet released the official API for Google Scholar we have to open search results in a new window for now, directly on Google site. As soon as Google releases the API we’ll be able to display the Scholar results inside the LibGuides content boxes.

 2) “Linked Pages” feature. Until now, a user could only make a plain copy of another page in the system to display on their guide. Let’s say I have a guide called “Research Basics” and, by using the “Copy Page From Another Guide” feature, I copy a page from Jane’s guide – her “Primary Sources” page. This makes an exact copy of her page inside my guide so that I can then change this “Primary Sources” page on my guide and tailor it to my needs.

With the new function we are introducing today, I can now also make a “linked copy” of Jane’s “Primary Sources” page, to show up on my guide. But, now if/when Jane changes the “Primary Sources” page on her guide, the changes will automatically show on my linked page as well. Pretty cool, huh?

As always, let us know what you think and keep the feedback coming…

Link Checker Function in LibGuides

I am pleased to announce the availability of the link checker function in LibGuides. The system will check for broken links inside LibGuides boxes (for all boxes except the rich text box type) twice a month and produce the report which will enable you to fix these broken links easily. The function is available on the main admin screen, please see the screenshot below.

As always, your feedback and suggestions are always appreciated so try out the link checker and let us know what you think.

OpenSearch Compliance and LibX Browser Bar Support

LibGuides is now OpenSearch compliant!  From the OpenSearch Wikipedia page:

“OpenSearch is a collection of technologies that allow publishing of search results in a format suitable for syndication and aggregation. It is a way for websites and search engines to publish search results in a standard and accessible format.”

What does this mean for your library patrons?  The OpenSearch specification provides web browsers with a means to auto-detect search engines, and query sites from within the browsers internal search bar.  This works in modern browsers such as Internet Explorer 7+ and FireFox 2+ (pictured below).

By adding OpenSearch to LibGuides, we get the additional benefit of automatic support for the popular LibX browser plug-in for libraries.  For those of you not familiar with LibX, it allow libraries to create a custom browser toolbar, allowing simple searching of catalogs, databases, and now LibGuides! 

To see this in action you can visit the LibX Edition Builder and go to the ‘Catalogs & Databases’ tab.  Enter your LibGuides URL into the ‘Auto Detection’ box (seen below), and the Edition Builder will add LibGuides search support to your LibX toolbar.  Thanks to Godmar at LibX for helping us with this implementation!

Thoughts, comments or questions about these new features?  Don’t keep them to yourself – share your ideas with other LibGuides users at the Springshare Lounge.

LibGuides Integration with Twitter

We’ve achieved a lot of “firsts” in the Library software world in terms of web 2.0 stuff – LibGuides was one of the first commercial library software with a Facebook app (we now have three), among the first to integrate with Del.icio.us, etc.

Today I am pleased to announce another “first” and, perhaps, the coolest one yet – Twitter integration. Now when you publish a new guide you can broadcast the news on Twitter for all your faithful followers to see. Anybody subscribed to your Twitter updates will see the name of your newly published guide and the URL to access it. It’s a great way to advertise your guides to the Twitter universe (which is getting bigger by the minute)!

Pretty cool stuff, you must admit. We thought so too…

The “post to twitter” option is available on the change status screen, when you go to change the status of your guide to “published”.

I’d like to thank our tech team, especially the resident Twitter-expert Marc, for implementing another “first”web 2.0 integration in the commercial library software world, thereby solidifying the LibGuides’ position as the leading web 2.0 platform for libraries! 

Issues With Accessing New Servers

After our server upgrade went as smoothly as possible (zero downtime for patrons), we were alerted today that several (5, to be exact) of our clients were not able to access the new servers. After scratching our heads and looking at the problem from every possible angle (I’d like to thank our clients who worked with us on figuring it out), one of our genius techies (i.e. not me) said “it must be the bogon issue – their network administrators should check their bogon filters for the 174.*.*.* address. This network was only recently opened up by IANA. Bogon filters are filters designed to remove bogus IP addresses from being routed or spoofed. This is now a valid network and should not be filtered” (for more info, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogon_filtering)

And – sure enough – our new servers are on 174.* network and hence the reason why any network with obsolete bogon filter rules had problems accessing them. Even though this was not a LibGuides server issue (nor LibGuides problem in general) we are still bummed out that these 5 clients had their LibGuides access interrupted for part of the day, and we apologize for this – if we could have fixed it immediately we would, but this was out of our hands.

So, this should be a lesson to every network admin out there – keep those network rules and bogon filters up to date – because these obsolete filters not only prevent you from accessing LibGuides, but also from accessing many other (valid) sites who happen to be on this newly-approved 174.* network. The good news is that 98% of our client sites already had these bogon filters updated, but we want to help these 2% get on the train as well 🙂

If you are having problems accessing LibGuides, have your IT folks check the bogon filters for 174.* range – this is most likely the culprit.