Big, really big, huge news! We are super excited to unveil the SMS reference module for our LibAnswers platform. R U Serious? Yep, you heard it right – LibAnswers is now the only reference system to aggregate asking reference questions from the Web, from Twitter and via SMS, with an extensive reporting capability to boot. If you thought the news couldn’t get any better, get this – the SMS Reference module for LibAnswers is FREE for the first year, with rock-bottom prices afterwards. Check out these features:
- Each library is assigned a dedicated local phone number. Whoa, that’s cool – no short codes to remember or special keywords for patrons to memorize. We have big plans for further development of mobile and voice apps for libraries, and having a dedicated local number provides the platform to build exciting mobile and voice apps on top of it. Folks, we’re just getting started!
- The SMS capability is fully integrated into the current LibAnswers workflow. Any incoming SMS messages go to the Unanswered tab (email and IM notifications work for SMS, too). You answer SMS questions in the same way you currently answer any other LibAnswers questions. You can collaborate on answers, claim questions, release claims, pass notes, see who answered which SMS, etc.
- SMS statistics are fully integrated with LibAnswers stats. Want to see the monthly/daily/hourly distribution of SMS questions? Want to compare SMS stats with Twitter stats or Web reference stats? We provide a variety of reports on SMS reference usage. Furthermore, with the Analytics module for LibAnswers you can go even deeper and analyze the reference trends and staffing needs for each reference channel – an essential tool for evaluating and improving your reference service.
- LibAnswers widgets, which you can embed into any web page on your library site (and beyond – put them on blogs, courseware pages, etc) to advertise your SMS reference number, with the ability to ask reference questions from any widget. These widgets are a great marketing tool for your SMS reference.
- Auto-responders for those times when you are not available.
- Unlimited number of simultaneous logins. All your librarians can have an account in LibAnswers and answer SMS questions. There are no limits to the number of accounts or the number of users logged on at the same time.
- Fully hosted solution. You get your own local phone number without having to buy (and tote around) a dedicated phone just for SMS. Plus, all your data lives in a cloud (nine) which means we take care of the back-end infrastructure for you.
- Pricing - FREE for the first year, save for a one-time setup fee of $149. You get 400 messages per month (incoming + outgoing) and you can carry over any unused credits from month-to-month, during your annual license term (hello, AT&T)! This means you have 4,800 FREE messages for your first year.
- Ongoing charges - After the free first year, choose between the following plans:
$30/month 600 messages/month, i.e. 7,200/year (incoming + outgoing) $50/month 1,200 messages/month, i.e. 14,400/year (incoming + outgoing)
You can carry any unused credits from month to month for the full year. Need more message credits? Sure, buy a pack of 1,000 for just $50. If you anticipate needing more than 15K messages a year, talk to us and we will give you an even better deal!
There you have it – a simple and affordable way to offer SMS reference, all part of the fully-featured web 2.0 reference platform for libraries. Web Questions, Twitter Questions, SMS Questions – we’ve got them all covered. In-depth statistics and analytics for any reference channel? Check. Automatic Q-and-A knowledgebase and FAQ builder? Check. A complete reference platform, priced orders of magnitude less than paying for separate reference tools? Double check!
Pardon our enthusiasm, but this is disruptive, revolutionary, and very exciting at the same time.
Email us at email@example.com and we’ll help you get started on LibAnswers and SMS reference.
We rolled out the initial (beta) release of the LibAnswers/Instant Messanger integration, so please check it out. Log on to your main LibAnswers admin page (My Admin) and under System Settings tab select “IM Notifications” option. This is where you can setup the integration (you must have a valid GTalk account to do this, but you can use any IM aggregator, e.g. Meebo, Digsby, etc. to receive IM notifications).
Once you set this up, any time a new question, or a new comment is submitted to your LibAnswers system you will get an Instant Message notification (in addition to the email notification which is still there).
Let us know what you think – this is only the first release of this IM integration and we’d like to improve on it based on your feedback.
Every now and then we stop for moment, take a deep breath, and marvel at the amazing growth of our LibGuides Community – 1,100+ libraries and 17,000+ librarians creating useful guides, collaborating, and sharing content and ideas.
We knew we had many international libraries on board, but we recently realized we’re global in a real “global” way – 25 countries and counting: from dozens of libraries in our northern neighbor Canada, and just as many (if not more) in the Land Down Under – Australia, to South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, Egypt, Singapore, etc. The venerable Oxford University in UK is on board as well, as is the prestigious Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.
We’re building a global community of libraries, with many opportunities to collaborate and share ideas and content on a global scale. It’s a beautiful thing, and it will only get better!
Speaking of collaboration, next week we are going to announce a big, bold, new LibGuides initiative/feature aimed at increasing and enhancing collaboration beyond individual libraries, so stay tuned – it will rock your world – in a good way, of course
As always, we’re here if any questions, ideas, suggestions, etc. pop up.
We’re pleased to announce the http://bestof.libguides.com website – a collection of what we think are the shiniest examples of LibGuides across all our client institutions. The best part is that all content on the Best Of site can be freely reused and shared (that’s one of the rules of being featured on the site – guide owners must be willing to let others reuse and copy their awesomeness). No need to reinvent the wheel, and this way everybody benefits from the collective wisdom of the tens of thousands of librarians who create content in LibGuides.
We are also working on having official prizes, automatic idea submissions, voting, etc. so the Best Of site will only get better – this is just the beginning of great things to come. We will be adding new content every time we find something that makes us go “Wow, this is a great guide” (we always contact the guide owner first, to get their permission to feature their work). If you have suggestions for what type of content you want to see there, or if you want to submit your or your colleagues’ guides please let us know, we’re all ears - firstname.lastname@example.org
So, there you have it – in a spirit of Valentine’s Day (a few days early but since Valentine’s is on Sunday we had to compromise a bit): Announcing the Sites We Love on the Day For Love – LibGuides Best Of, http://bestof.libguides.com. Check the site often because we will be adding new content every couple of weeks. You should also follow us on twitter - http://twitter.com/springshare - as we will be tweeting the Best Of updates/additions as well.
As always, please send us your suggestions, ideas, kudos – email@example.com.
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: http://lgimages.s3.amazonaws.com/nc-sm.gif|
|Cover art url: http://lgimages.s3.amazonaws.com/nc-md.gif|
|Cover art url: http://lgimages.s3.amazonaws.com/gc-sm.gif|
|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:
We have a new, incredibly useful, report available for the LibAnswers Analytics module – the Visual Data Analyzer. It enables you to create custom X/Y Charts for any combination of metadata values, for even greater insight into how your reference service *really* works. Yes, you heard it right – now you can pick any two parameters in your reference tracking metadata (i.e. the stuff you decided to track and record for your reference transactions) and get a visual representation of the relationship between them, in real time.
For example, What is the breakdown of patron types who asked their question at the Reference desk? Check. How long did the transactions take at the Circulation desk? Check. For Undergraduate students, what is the distribution of Method for asking the question (live ref, sms, email, chat, etc)? Check. How about for Faculty? Check again. We can go on and on about the endless possibilities for using this cool new reporting tool - the only limits are your imagination and the number of metadata fields you track. Previously, this type of insight was only available to you if you were a master of excel pivot tables and were able to import your reference data into excel and then spend hours messing with the pivot tables every time you waned to see a new angle on your data.
Now, anyone can just log on to LibAnswers Analytics and with few clicks get beautiful charts for any combination of data *in real time*. If you couldn’t tell from the tone of this blog post, we are obviously super-excited about this new Analytics feature. Once you try it out we think you will be too. Simply select the ”Visual Data Analyzer” option from the Analytics tab and off you go.
Big thanks to Anthony @ LaTrobe University (our long-time client) for giving us the idea for this feature and helping us implement it. We have the best clients in the world! Keep the good ideas and feature suggestions coming.
We are very excited to announce a partnership with Syndetics Solutions, to enable you to use Syndetics book covers in LibGuides “Books from the Catalog” content boxes. You do not have to be a Syndetics subscriber to use this new functionality. We are thankful to our friends at Syndetics for working with us to make this a core LibGuides feature.
As an added bonus, if utilizing Syndetics book covers you can also select the size of the book cover image to use (small/medium/large).
Besides book covers, Syndetics offers a whole range of high quality content to enhance library online catalogs, so you should check out their offerings – http://www.syndetics.com. Your catalog will spring to life, and your patrons will love it!
As always, we are here if any questions pop up – firstname.lastname@example.org
We have added another statistics report to the already sizable Reference Analytics module functionality – the “Daily/Hourly Question Distribution” table. The report is available from the “Reference Statistics” and “Reports Wizard” screens in the Reference Analytics Tab.
The report shows the number of questions asked each hour, for all Mondays, all Tuesdays, all Wednesdays, etc. during a specified time period. Since the daily reference patterns can vary greatly depending on the days of the week, this report is really helpful in determining what are the busy periods for reference, so that you can staff accordingly.
With this new report in the LibAnswers Analytics module you can even get the daily/hourly distributions at specific reference service points, i.e. at any number of service points you define in the Analytics module.
If you think of any other reports ideas for the Analytics module, please do let us know. Props to Susan @ LMU for giving us the idea for this report.
We were going to celebrate the 1000-th question answered via LibAnswers, but before we could say “cheese”, we realized this number already stands at 1547. Wow! Given that the system was released only recently, this speaks volumes about how popular and useful the system is going to be, and how easy it is for patrons to submit their questions and get timely responses from librarians. They’ve already done it 1547 times in the past couple of months.
So, thank you to all the early adopters of LibAnswers, keep up the good work! To everyone else – come join the party. To see why LibAnswers is the next big thing in Online Reference, check out our brief intro video at http://springshare.com/libanswers and then also take a look at the Analytics module.
Since we introduced LibAnswers at the Chicago ALA, pretty much everybody who has seen the system has been blown away (in a good way ). LibAnswers is the new, web 2.0 approach to online reference. Patrons can ask questions using natural language and the system will automatically suggest answers, the knowlege base can be queried and the questions can be asked from anywhere via widgets (i.e. from any web page, from courseware systems, from any blog, even from Twitter). The patron is notified via email when their submitted question has been answered. Librarians can embed videos and attach documents to answers. People can comment and improve answers. The statistics reports give a real-time insight into what questions are being asked (the super-awesome QuerySpy) etc. In short, the list of jaw-dropping features is impressive, and the positive buzz is well deserved.
But, what if you could combine LibAnswers web reference with other means of reference (in person, telephone, IM, sms, etc)? What if you could get an in-depth insight into the overall reference usage patterns and the types of questions being asked across all your reference service points? What if you could build a knowledge base of *all* reference transactions, regardless of the method or where the questions are asked? What if, with just a few clicks, you can see how many questions were asked by undergraduates at the Information Commons area in October? Or, How many questions were asked by faculty, for equipment request, during the last semester? How many Catalog Help questions were asked at the Reference Desk? How many questions are asked on weekends? At 8pm on weekdays? What if you could not only know how many questions were asked for any given set of parameters, but also see *what the questions were*?
And, what if all this was available in one easy to use, affordable, web based system which unifies all your online and off-line reference? You know where we’re going with this… Santa’s been good to you this year… because all this is now possible with LibAnswers Analytics. Yes, Virginia, LibAnswers can now be your one-stop-shop for all reference statistics, complete reference knowledge base, analytics reports, and more. A whole lot more!
We have prepared a LibGuide (what else?) describing the new LibAnswers Analytics module in detail, so please jump to http://help.libguides.com/libanswers-analytics and check it out. Then, log on to your LibAnswers system, click on the Analytics tab and prepare to be impressed. We should mention that this is the Beta release of the Analytics module so if you encounter a bump or two please let us know and we’ll take care of it asap.
The module will be available for licensing to all our existing and future LibAnswers clients starting in January. As always, we are eager to incorporate your feedback and make the Analytics module even more powerful, so let us know what you think – email@example.com.