A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette posted a great blog item this week on the hilarity of creating the perfect LibGuides Profile picture. All jokes aside, we’ve heard from many libraries that adding a profile pic really *does* increase patron familiarity and comfort level when approaching librarians. So picking a good picture is important – and here’s why.
- We all call 1-800 customer service numbers and chat online with nameless faceless support. Interacting with the library should be different. It should be relationship-building.
- Patrons hear the message “this is your library”. With your profile pic, you’re connecting with them as their librarian. Your Library. Your Librarian.
- Library Anxiety – your profile picture can help to reduce this very real issue. They already know what you look like, so approaching the reference desk is less inhibiting.
Plain and simple – you’re letting users know who you are. That you work at *their* library and you’re there for them.
Poll time! What’s your current profile picture?
Sandy be darned! A hurricane can’t slow us down – the LibGuides Update is now live! We’ve got a bunch of exciting features to share.
Friendly URLs are a whole lot friendlier!
We’ve expanded the Friendly URL functionality throughout LibGuides! It’s now super easy to assign a friendly URL to most static pages within LibGuides, including:
- Individual Pages in a guide
- Subject Category Pages
- User Profile Pages
- Group Homepages
Even better, the new Friendly URLs support the character “/”. Why’s that important? Let’s say you have a guide (or group) with a Friendly URL of “hurricane”; if you then create a page (or guide) on Sandy, you can give it a Friendly URL of “hurricane/sandy” – in other words, nested friendly URLs!
New RSS Processing
We’ve heard from some folks that, with certain feeds, the RSS feed box sometimes returned wonky results, displaying seemingly random feed items. We heard those concerns, so we’ve completely changed the way we process RSS feeds. We’ve implemented a new processing method - it’s more reliable, efficient, and a whole lot less problematic.
E-Reserves now available for LibGuides clients
LibGuides clients can now enjoy the awesomeness of E-Reserves, without needing the full update to LG CMS! Check out http://help.springshare.com/ereserves for a walkthrough of this module – and when you’re ready, email email@example.com to sign up!
Discussion Board Upgrade
Discussion Boards (available in LibGuides CMS) got a huge reboot! We’ve incorporated several of the most popular feature requests, including:
- Guide Owners will now receive an update each time a new Discussion Board post is added
- Discussion Boards now support HTML – add images, style, etc. in your post text!
- Diacritics are now fully supported – no more weird &*(@! display!
Google Content Boxes + Proxy Prefix = @mylibrary results
Does your library use a proxy resolver that relies on the prefix method? You’re going to love our update for the Google Scholar search box. Head to System Settings -> Link Options, and you’ll find a new option to include this prefix for Google Scholar results – making it way easier for patrons to grab search results that are specific to your library’s holdings!
As always, thanks to everyone who contributed the ideas and feedback that led to this update!
Awesome new LibCal calendars are coming your way. We’ll perform a code update on November 5th, to introduce many new features to LibCal. There will be no downtime. The biggest change you’ll notice is the way Calendars display – they’ll be much more flexible, super customizable, and a whole lot prettier. View a video walkthrough of the awesome new features.
jQuery Calendars – yeah!
The new Calendars are based on the jQuery library, so they’re standardized and look a lot nicer and more functional right out of the box – the most popular customizations will happen by default. In addition, you’ll have greater flexibility in customizing individual calendar elements. View the new features.
Important to know:
If you’ve customized the CSS for your calendar display, those customizations will no longer work. We are very sorry for the inconvenience – due to the complete overhaul of the Calendar displays and standardizing on jQuery, the old methods of customizing elements won’t work. We’re at the ready to help you customize the new calendars – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you with anything you need.
The Awesome Details:
Here are some of the customizations that are now super-duper easy:
- Event Title Height in the Monthly calendar view will re-size automatically
- Day Height in the Monthly calendar view will re-size automatically to accommodate all events
- Color Customizations can be done using the new Color Settings menu
- Time Display Customizations can be done using the new Display Options menu
In addition to the vast improvements to the display, we’re also rolling out several frequently requested features, including:
- View multiple calendars & events in one display
- Event Mouse-overs show key event information, including categories, location, presenters, and description
- Event Explorer lets you search, filter, display, and export event & registrant info for an entire calendar
- Display Filters - filter events by multiple libraries & categories
- Print Friendly View makes it easy to print calendars
We’re way excited about these new calendar display options and features – we’re confident that this update will make your LibCal system easier to manage, prettier, and more user-friendly!
Onwards and upwards,
Slaven Zivkovic & the Springshare Team
Last week, we read a great article by Joyce Valenza on her NeverEndingSearch blog in School Library Journal. She mentions several excellent resources for digital curation, and as you might imagine, one of them happens to be our favorite – the LibGuides Community. Here’s a quick excerpt:
Lately, I find myself using LibGuides in ways never expected.
Sure, as a member of the community, I can ask a fellow curator if I might use his/her guide as a template in building my own. But way more often, I simply link to the Guides of others as resources or links in my own guides. You don’t have to be a paying member of the community to do that.
I know very little about genealogy, or gardening, or classical music, or sports, or physics. But somewhere out there, some really smart librarian does. He or she knows a lot and understands the context of searching within that area of expertise. And while they sometimes link to location-specific proprietary databases, very often the resources they list and the advice they offer transcend their local clients.
The full article (a great read!) can be found here: My secret search/curating weapon
We were excited to read Joyce’s article, in part because it’s a timely coincidence with something we’ve been cooking up recently. We’re gearing up to put together a revamp of the LibGuides Community search page and functionality – we want to make it *even easier* for you to discover the guides and content you need.
If you have ideas on what you’d like to see in the new Community site (multi-faceted searching? More filtering/limiting options? New search parameters? New functionality?) we’d really love to hear from you! Please share any suggestions, wishes, and ideas in the comments.
Hey there, Springy Nation! We’re a fast growing company, so we’re always looking for ninja-skilled Web Developers to help us carry out our mission of providing the best web software for libraries.
This is what we’re looking for:
- LAMP skills of the ninja caliber, including 3+ years PHP / MySQL experience and Unix / Apache skills
- Experience in scaling web infrastructure
- Front-end JS programming experience (e.g. jQuery or dojo)
- Experience with Nginx, Solr or Mobile development is a plus
- You need to be a self-starter and self-motivating type. We work in a typical startup fashion so you’ll be wearing many hats and doing a lot of things – at once – hence having great organizational and multitasking skills is essential.
In a typical week, you’ll:
- Create front- and back-end interfaces for new or existing products, letting your creative juices run free
- Work with our partners (other library-centric companies) to integrate their tools with Springy and vice versa
- Dream up new ideas that will rock the library (software) world
- Every one us (including our CEO) also helps with support and making sure our customers’ needs are taken care of, so you’ll talk with our customers regularly, troubleshooting bug fixes and such
- Great pay and benefits (health, dental, 401K, etc.)
- Very flexible vacations/time off policy
- Working from home (yes, you heard it right, though slackers need not apply – see the point above about needing to be a self-starter and self-motivator)
- A very supportive, library-centric environment (half of our team is librarians).
If this sounds like your dream gig, please send your resume and code sample(s) to email@example.com and tell us of your ninja developer skills.
SpringyCamp – Focusing on UX: Understanding & Meeting the Needs of the User
Date: November 8th, 2012
Time: Tentatively scheduled from 1:00pm-4:30pm EST (subject to change)
Cost: Completely, 100% free!
Program Outline: Currently calling for presenters! Submit your proposal now!
Program Level: Designed for All Audiences
Register & Learn How Libraries are Using Springshare Products to:
- Meet users where they are;
- Understand their needs;
- Provide an outlet for user-driven content/services/resources;
- Capture user experiences or assess library success;
- Reduce the degrees of separation between the library and the user;
- Ways to streamline work for library staff while still meeting users where they are;
- …and more!
How Do I Register?
- Registration is as easy as 1,2,3
- Our first SpringyCamp, April 2012, was so popular our registration ‘sold out’ in less than 24hours. In an effort to ensure that as many libraries can attend, we are limiting registration to one per institution.
- Does your library have multiple branches / campuses / buildings? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
- Please be sure to read our instructions regarding registration here!
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
As we were wrapping up some fixes regarding the LibGuides connectivity issues today, we noticed some tweets alluding that we somehow support SOPA/PIPA because the attack on GoDaddy coincided with the LibGuides server connectivity issues. Let me be clear in no uncertain terms – we do not support SOPA or PIPA, and LibGuides issues today were not due to the attack on GoDaddy. To wit, we have a couple of other domains registered with GoDaddy, like libanswers.com – and that service was fine today.
Let’s set the record straight:
- When I started Springshare in 2006, before SOPA and PIPA existed even in theory, I registered bunch of domains with GoDaddy (including springshare.com & libguides.com – the two original domains) because GoDaddy was among the most affordable and most reliable registrars back in the day.
- We have never used GoDaddy for anything other than a domain registrar (for about $12 per year) – i.e. we haven’t used them for DNS, hosting, or anything else. Our DNS is hosted by Amazon Web Services; server hosting is with multiple providers, but it was never with GoDaddy.
- Springshare owns almost 100 domains, all of them related to libraries and library software – we have big plans for the future and will be releasing a slew of exciting new software and services for libraries, so we wanted to reserve these domains ahead of time. As soon as the SOPA/PIPA debacle happened and GoDaddy stood on the wrong side, we moved 95% of our domains to another registrar, EXCEPT these 4 domains: springshare.com, libguides.com, libanswers.com, libanalytics.com.
We decided to move these by the end of 2012 because we wanted to plan this move very carefully, without causing any downtime to these services. When a service is used by millions of people every day, one can’t just move domains on a whim, regardless of politics. Our users are more important than politics. So any transfer of critically important domains must be planned and executed carefully.
These are the only reasons we still have (less than 5%) of our domains registered with GoDaddy – legacy reasons (from 2006/2007) and because we want to plan the move carefully. The move will happen before end of this year.
- Last but not least, I’ve spent my entire professional career in and around libraries, the majority of our company consists of librarians (yes it’s true – that’s why we’re so awesome , not to mention the little-known fact that my mother is a librarian in my native country of Bosnia. Hence, both personally and professionally our ties to libraries run deep and everybody at Springshare stands with libraries and librarians on the issue of SOPA and PIPA.
Thank you, and let me know if I can provide any further clarification regarding this, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, we’re continuing to take steps to diagnose and resolve any issues regarding the LibGuides connectivity some clients experienced today. We’ll post an update here to ensure everybody knows what went on.
Not a supporter of SOPA/PIPA
The telltale signs are starting to show. Campus orientation tours are rolling past office windows. Freshmen are enrolling in classes. The energy on campus is starting to build. These are all signs that school is about to start! It’s time to spruce up those guides, ready the study room sign-up, update the FAQ, and give a lift to the digital branch. We’ve put together a quick check-list to help you get organized.
- First things first: guide cleanup time!
- Summer’s come to a close; time to unpublish LibGuides about summer programs and readings.
- Update your student employee/volunteer LibGuide with this year’s shifts and policies. LibGuides CMS users: remind students and volunteers to sign up for email alerts, then send out alerts any time you update the guide.
- It’s time to kick that E-Reserves program into high gear!
- It’s a great time to freshen up LibAnswers, too!
- Get those dates and schedules in order with LibCal!
- If you’re using the Room Booking tool, now’s a great time to post fresh QR codes outside available study spaces – they make booking with mobile devices super easy!
- Make sure your personal scheduler is up to date & publicized - make it easy to consult the experts!
- Create a calendar for special events, & publicize it – share the iCal subscription link, and anyone who subscribes will see newly added events automatically!
- Make sure your LibAnalytics data collection is ready to go! Check out our Dataset Ideas for suggestions on what types of data to capture.
What are you doing to get ready for school? Share your suggestions and strategies in the comments!
Hey there, LibChat users – we’ve got several exciting updates to our existing chat widgets to share!
Encourage users to add a name to the chat: Instead of auto-filling the “Guest” name in the initial chat form, we’ve added a new checkbox option. Users can still chat anonymously, but we think the switch will encourage users to share their real name.
Ask Users a Custom Question: Prompt your users to answer a single question right in your chat widget. Ask anything, whether it’s “What’s your initial question?”, to “Is this for a class? If so, what’s your course number?”. Their intial answer will show up in the operator panel – here’s what it looks like:
Comments/Feedback at the end of the chat: We’ve added a new comment box to help collect feedback from your users on your chat service. It displays underneath the star rating when a chat concludes.
- color_backg: “#E7F3EF” (Background color)
- color_border: “#AFB6B4″ (Text input borders and main border color)
- color_heading: “#3278E0″ (Heading/Title & Chat button color)
- And here’s what those settings will create –>
As usual, we’re super excited about these changes to the chat widgets! For our next act, we’ll be updating the embed code pages to generate the color customizations automatically – keep an eye out for it in the coming weeks. If you need more instructions on customizing your chat widget, these customizations (and a lot more!) are covered in our help documentation.
If you’re not chatting with LibChat yet – why not?! Check out the features and view a 3-minute video of the new functionality – and when you’re ready to jump in, email us at email@example.com to get chatting!