Yesterday marked the start of Teen Tech Week, sponsored by the Young Adult Libraries Services division (YALSA) of the American Library Association. This year’s theme encourages libraries “to throw open their physical and virtual doors to teens and showcase the outstanding technology they offer.”
To celebrate Teen Tech Week, we’re highlighting a few of the many great LibGuides created for teen audiences by school and public librarians. The three guides featured here will also form the kernel of a new “Teen Interest” category on the LibGuides Best Of site. Feel free to use one of the guides as a template to reuse / remix on your own site! (The guide authors have given their permission.)
Newport News Public eLibrary
The Newport News Public Library in Virginia has created an attractive and dynamic “Teen Space” with a wide range of resources for its teenage audience.
The site offers everything from career and college information to homework help to books and magazines to special events. It’s all wrapped into the highly customized and tightly structured design that gives the Newport News eLibrary a distinctive online look and feel. (NNPL uses LibGuides for its overall online site.)
Be sure to check out the library’s use of tabbed boxes on each of the pages of its teen guide to keep the content compact and organized.
Walk in My Shoes: Exploring Cultures in America
Akira Toki Middle School
This guide, created by teacher-librarian Madge Klais at the Akira Toki Middle School in Madison, Wisconsin, supports the study of multicultural literature for teens. It’s a companion to her 8th grade course in the school’s Unified Arts Program, and it’s filled with information, illustrations, and resources.
Madge hopes to have students add additional content, including book reviews, Animoto videos, and other items to the site as they proceed through the course.
Just for Teens
East Baton Rouge Parish Library
Louise Hilton at the East Baton Route Parish Library in Louisiana designed this guide as a “one-stop shop” for area teens to find resources on arts and crafts, gaming, writing, teen reads, music, and more. It’s full of books, databases, websites, online classes, and creative ideas.
The guide also connects to the library’s social media presence, including Twitter and Instagram plus a Facebook page and Pinterest board just for teens.
Like all the best guides, “Just for Teens” is a work in progress, with new and changing categories and content to keep it fresh and fun.
Congrats to all three for these great guides. We’re looking for more Best Of examples, so if you’ve created or know of a guide that’s a cut above—in this category or any other—let us know!
We waited until today to post the explanation behind yesterday’s LibGuides connectivity issue because we wanted to make sure that the fixes we deployed took care of the issue.
Here’s what happened: a couple of weeks ago our hosting facility had a big infrastructure upgrade – new routers, switches, the whole nine yards. But yesterday something went wrong with the shiny new stuff which caused one of our critical servers to be overloaded with access requests. Pings and connections were failing or being delayed, and those delayed requests would then hit the servers all at once. We designed our servers to handle large loads and handle spikes in usage, but when you get a rare “super-spike” things slow down. A lot.
“Why don’t you just add more servers and hot-swap them?”, you may say. Well, adding more servers instantly in the case of LibGuides is not so simple: for some critical servers (like the one that we had problems with yesterday) any institution with the custom domain mapping option (most of our libraries have it) would have to update their local DNS records to point to new servers and it takes time (hours, sometimes even days) to propagate the changes to all DNS servers around the world.
In any case, we worked with our hosting provider to alleviate the networking issue and also made some changes to our server cluster so that it can handle way more traffic – about 10x more, to alleviate negative effects from any other potential super-spikes.
Here are a couple of important takeaways:
- Server issues happen – internet connectivity is complex beast – and unfortunately there are no guarantees that our infrastructure won’t have other issues unrelated to this problem. You can be sure of this, though – we monitor our infrastructure round-the-clock so we are the first to know whenever there are any issues. And whenever there are issues we spring to action immediately to remedy the situation asap.
- Whenever you have issues accessing LibGuides please check our Twitter webpage first to see if there’s a known issue (http://twitter.com/springshare). When we get thousands of support requests in a span of a couple of hours—literally, no joke—it is impossible to answer all of them quickly. If it’s a known issue our support team is already working on it and will fix it faster if they don’t also need to respond individually to thousands of emails.
If you see an issue posted on Twitter, we are working on it and will post regular updates as well as “all clear”.
If you are still having issues after things are back to normal (or no issues are mentioned on Twitter) you should send your support request and we will take a look at it asap – as we always do.
Again, we apologize for the problems accessing your trusty LibGuides yesterday. It was a networking black-swan type event (and just to reiterate—it was in no way connected to the attack on GoDaddy – please see this post). Remember, we are always doing everything we can to prevent these problems from happening in the first place.
It is worth noting that even counting yesterday’s issues, our uptime has been in the 99.99% range since we started LibGuides in 2007 – meaning it’s been down for only a handful of hours in the past 5 years.
Thank you, and onwards and upwards. Now we need to sign up 10x more libraries, because there’s a lot of room to grow in our infrastructure.
-Slaven & the Springshare team
Earlier this month, we rolled out a huge statistics update - huzzah! We’ve heard lots of good feedback about the new functionality – words like “awesome”, “fascinating”, and “super cool” have been flying around. We’ve also heard from some folks who miss the simplicity and scannability of the previous monthly hit reports.
We’re all about easy, so we’ve added these reports back in to the new stats interface! Here’s how to get them:
- Head to Statistics, & select the Guides tab
- Choose Monthly report, then select the months you’d like to see (ex: January to August); click Apply
- Look below the chart, and you’ll see the Monthly report grid:
- Select a guide to see a grid breakdown by page; click Links to see grids on links, books, files, etc.
- Prefer seeing all clicks in one report? Choose Export to: Excel or Plain Text to view all guide clicks:
Thanks to everyone for sharing feedback on the new statistics!
Good morning SpringyLand! We rolled out a code update last night, including our hugely anticipated Statistics Update – huzzah! What’s new this time?
Statistics, You Complete Me.
We’ve completely redesigned the way we capture and report statistics:
- Daily stats reports - goodbye monthly aggregate stats!
- Custom Date Ranges – run reports on any date range, and create daily, monthly, or yearly reports
- Charts? Charts! - Create zoomable charts right in the system, and print/export them into any program.
- New Links Report – Reused link clicks are aggregated *across your entire site* in one glorious report.
- Mobile Views – Check! Discover whether hits are coming from mobile vs. desktop users.
- And, for LibGuides CMS (formerly CampusGuides) users, we have brand new stat reports just for you! Grab reports on Search Phrases (the terms users search for in your site search box) User Sessions, and Browser/OS Information.
These new stats cover dates starting as of July 1, 2012.
Integration Made Easy.
We’ve added several major integration points and improvements with LibAnswers:
- Add a LibChat Department Widget to every page in your site with one click (Sys Settings -> Integrations)
- Add a LibChat Personal Widget to your profile box with one click (Edit Profile Box -> LibChat Integration)
- The LibAnswers box-type got a huge upgrade – with one click, you can:
- Embed the Auto-suggest Search Box, OR
- Embed your Question Form, OR
- Embed an entire Question & Answer from your public knowledgebase!
But Wait, There’s More!
- New API Option – display a list of guides for an individual user
- Redirected Pages can now be opened in new windows, using the new checkbox option
- Tweet Updates on published AND private guides
- New Character Counter & Tag Parser in the plain-text area of the Rich Text box
- Mobile Footer customization now available
As always, thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and requests for this update!
By now you’ve probably heard that Meebo is discontinuing its chat service on July 11, 2012. The good news is that LibChat will be ready before then. The even better news is that is it so super awesome that even if Meebo wasn’t cancelling their chat, you’d still switch to LibChat in a heartbeat!
We know what you’re thinking: “So Springy friends, 1) what can it do and 2) when can we get our hands on it?!”
Well, LibChat’s awesomesauce is made of:
- full integration into the LibAnswers reference workflow (including new question / SMS notifications right in the LibChat window!);
- 1-click integration into LibGuides / CampusGuides (embed chat on every public page; embed individual chat in your profile);
- simple integration into any webpage – put your chat at point of need;
- several widget types – easy to use & not Flash based, so they work on non-Flash supported devices (we’re lookin’ at you, Apple);
- multiple queues – create as many as you need (individual & department based);
- chat transfer: transfer in-process chats from one librarian to another (making referrals easy peasy!);
- customizable canned messages;
- transcripts: all chat transcripts are saved & can be analyzed; patrons can also email the transcript to themselves with one click;
- full statistics, including patron ratings;
- …and more!
Of course, one of the prime ingredients in Springshare’s awesomesauce is our outstanding support. Anyone caught by the Meebo chat shut-down can certainly appreciate the full value of having a library-focused company develop & support a library-centric reference solution.
True, it’s not free like Meebo was, but remember that you get what you pay for with free. With real-time reference being an important piece of the library’s mission, we feel it is very important to offer not only a great product, but also incredible service & support and continued product development.
This is where Springshare excels, and we are proud of the fact that we have built a sterling reputation for support & service in the library market. LibChat is no exception, and our clients – new and old – can expect the same awesome service / product / developments from us. We will never abandon you or let you down.
Excited yet? Want to see it in action? Alrighty then – let’s do it!
- Are you going to ALA? Stop by booth 712 and chat with us! Check out all of the awesome features and get your library signed up.
- Not going to ALA? No problem! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for a demo for your library.
LibChat will launch in early July – before Meebo shuts down. Chat with you soon!
We had a code rollout last night – read on to discover the new features we’ve added!
- E-Reserves Updates- we’ve introduced a ton of new features for the E-reserves module!
- We’ve added a new E-Reserve Request Form option! This makes it easy to collect reserve item requests from instructors. For more information, check the FAQ, Jack.
- We’ve added a new IP restriction option, so you can restrict the E-Reserves area by IP
- You can now reorder E-reserve items in courses
- You can now create E-Reserve items directly from the E-Reserve page in a guide
- You can now create E-Reserve folders directly, independent of items
- We added a “Course” filter on the E-Reserve Items control alrea, making it easier to manage items
- We’ve added Hex Color Pickers across the site, making it easier to select color options
- We’ve overhauled the Guide Layout/Colors screen, making it easier to create your guide look and feel
- CampusGuides Clients have a new Access Restriction option: Limit access to your system to logged-in users only. In other words, only people who have an account in your CampusGuides system can view published content in your site. To enable this option, shoot us a message – email@example.com.
- Credo Search Content Box - Add a search of your Credo Reference content, and display results right in your guides! To see it in action & learn how it works, check out our help guide.
- We also added lots of little niceties and fixes, including:
- You can now submit the “Add Box” page by hitting enter, instead of needing to manually click “Submit”
- We’ve added character limit warnings to several areas, including custom profile fields, adding tags, etc.
- Discussion board posts should now reflect your local time
As always, thanks to everyone who suggested new features. Keep em coming, we love to hear from you!
Five years ago, George Bush was president, the Writers Guild of America went on strike, Steve Jobs announced the first generation iPhone, and a library-loving company called Springshare came into being. What a long way we’ve all come since then! As you can tell, we’re feeling a little nostalgic on this, the 5-year anniversary of the first LibGuide. Sadly, that guide has since been retired, but like all nostalgic people, we enjoy looking at snapshots through the years – and we thought you might too!
Here’s the first iteration of the LibGuides home page – thanks to Michael Stephens for sharing this image!
The admin page, circa 2008 – thanks to Kelly Smith at Eastern Kentucky University for this one!
And we saved the best for last – an old 404 message, shared by Elizabeth Brixton. Just so you know, it’s really Slaven’s fault.
We’ve come a long way in 5 years – from one guide to almost 250,000 (whoa!), and from a handful of librarians to over 44,000 (double-whoa!). Many thanks to all of you for being part of the Springy community – you guys never cease to amaze, educate, and delight us. And wow, time really does fly when you’re having fun!
By now, most of you know about our Best Of site. It houses a collection of guides considered “Best” for one reason or another – best page layout, best collection of resources, best use of images… you get the idea.
The best part of Best Of? We’ve already contacted the original guide authors and asked them if they’re willing to share their awesome content, so you’re free to copy any featured guide into your own site and reuse / remix it to your hearts content!
This week, we’ve added a new group of awesome guides to Health & Wellness Resources. These guides were compiled by the experts at Eugene Public Library and Berkeley Public Library, & showcase resources that cover everything from Fitness & Exercise to Nutrition, and from Alternative & Complimentary Medicine to Men’s & Women’s Health. Check them out – they’re sure to put a spring in your step!
We’re always looking for new guides to feature in Best Of. If you’ve created or know of a guide that makes you go “Whoa, that’s awesome!”, let us know!
Here at Springshare, we really do love librarians – so we whipped up a little Valentine’s gift for all our libraries. Check out these new-and-awesome features, and let us know – will you be our Valentine?
- Enhanced Content in Books from the Catalog box*
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could enter an ISBN and automatically retrieve information for any book? Now you can! Just enter an ISBN, and we’ll automatically pull in the item’s title, author, and cover art.
CampusGuides Mega Bonus: Our CampusGuides clients can also pull book descriptions, bestseller lists, Subject Categories, Publisher information, and other enhanced content from Bowker – for free, to be used in your guides!
- Translate Public Screens
LibGuides en Espanol? Francais? Italiano? Libraries can now customize the hard-coded text on public screens in their local language. If your local language is English, you can also customize the text to meet your needs. For example, change the search box drop-down to read “This Site” instead of “All Guides”. To customize your language file, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!
- New “Edit Box” menu
You’ll love the consolidated menu in the “edit box” area. We combined all box edit functions into one screen. Just click “edit box”, and you’ll be able to change the box title, type, colors, etc. Even better, you can grab each box’s direct link, as well as an API call for any box, all in the same screen!
- Add Longer Descriptions to the Links & Lists box
We get it. 500 characters for description in the Links & Lists box wasn’t enough, so we’ve upped the length of the description field to 1,000 characters.
- Using the Serials Solutions A-Z Import Tool?
Now you can update the 3-letter Serials Solutions ID for any previously imported link! Just head to your A-Z import guide and select “edit link”. You’ll see a new tab for “Serials Solutions” – click it to change the Serials Solutions Database Identifier.
- CampusGuides clients can now upload files up to 10MB in size
CampusGuides folks – we’ve doubled your file upload size from 5MB to 10MB.
- Update to AddThis Button
The email function in the AddThis button on public screens is back up and working properly!
- Guide Status Notification on all screens
Seriously – sometimes it’s all about the little things. We’ve added a note to the edit guide screen that lets you know the guide’s current status – Unpublished, Published, or Private.
* Please remember – free use of Syndetics cover art and Bowker content is limited to use within LibGuides and CampusGuides
Things that are good on their own but better in multiples:
- Winning Lottery Numbers
- Ice Cream Scoops
- Vacation Days
- When your hometown wins the Superbowl, Stanley Cup, World Series and NBA Finals all in the same year (Not this year Boston!)
- …. and Springshare’s Multiple Mobile Sites Builder!
If you’ve been looking for a way to create multiple mobile sites for your institution, here’s your opportunity: subscribe to Springshare’s multiple Mobile Site Builder sites! Now other departments within, or outside, of your library can create a mobile presence as easy as 1, 2, 3.
What else is new? We’ve integrated all mobile aspects of LibGuides and CampusGuides, so all of your mobile functionality can be found in one place: Admin Stuff > Mobile Settings:
Once there, you’ll be able to modify your mobile settings for your LibGuides/CampusGuides site as well as create/modify your hierarchies for your Mobile Site Builder sites.