Archive for Tips and Tricks

Introducing the LibAnswers FAQ!

We’re happy to announce a new way for you to get help with your LibAnswers questions – the LibAnswers FAQ! On this new site, you’ll be able to look for commonly asked questions and submit new questions that will be answered promptly by our Community & Training team.

Not sure what to expect from the FAQ? Here are a few questions that are in our system already…

Q: How do the SMS auto-responders work? What happens if someone texts us when our library is closed? (Answer)

Q: How do I add a LibAnswers search box to our home page? (Answer)

Q: What alert options are available to tell me when there’s a new question? (Answer)

We also want to let you know that we’ve given the LibGuides FAQ a face lift – it’s not just for LibGuides anymore! You can also find answers and submit questions about CampusGuides & CommunityGuides. To reflect our new purpose, we’ve renamed the site – it is now the Guide FAQ.

Want to see new questions and answers? Follow us on Twitter! You can also submit questions by tweeting @libanswersfaq or @guidefaq.

Promoting your LibAnswers SMS/Texting service

Our client libraries will really like this new thing we’re doing – namely, we have started creating marketing/advertising/pr materials to help our clients promote the wonderful things they are doing with our products – LibAnswers, LibGuides, and CampusGuides.

The first marketing/advertising “how to” we put together is for LibAnswers –¬† It’s full of great ideas and practical advice about how to encourage patrons to use your LibAnswers SMS service – things like tear-away flyers with your SMS number, business card stickers, adding your SMS number to your databases, using keywords in classroom instruction, etc. There are many *free* templates you can download and customize for use within your library. Use it, and don’t lose it! ūüôā

If you don’t have our SMS/Texting module for LibAnswers, check out what you’re missing!

“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:

Cover art url:
Cover art url:
Cover art url:
Cover art url:

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.

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:


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.


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:


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 ūüėȬ†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 Рsupport 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 Рwe 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.