Spring is in the air, and we’ve got tons of new features to share! This latest LibGuides mini-update is a prelude to the larger style refresh happening this summer. But don’t let the “mini” fool you – this update is only mini in relation to what comes next! Read on to learn all about the new stuff.
Shiny New Stuff
- Table of Contents box type – Are your patrons overlooking the tabs in your guides? Now it’s super easy to create alternate guide navigation menus. Our newest box type automatically displays a list of all the pages in a guide. The menu works in both desktop and mobile view – and better yet, it self-updates every time you add/delete/reorder/rename a page!
- Select System Content Box -> Guide Table of Contents to try it out, or check out the help guide.
- All Links Report – Tired of creating link hit reports one link at a time? Us too! We’ve added a new “All Links” report to help make pulling reports on your links a little easier.
- Head to Statistics -> Links; click All Links (top left corner) to check out the new report.
- Guide Metadata (CMS Only) – We’ve expanded the Guide Metadata functionality! Check our our help documentation for the full explanation; in a nutshell, now you can:
- Add custom metadata tags & add them to the source code of your public guides (great for improving webcrawler search rankings).
- Use metadata tags for internal notes. Tag guides based on any criteria you choose, then use the new Metadata filter on the Guide Index to limit the list to just those guides.
- Summon Discipline Integration (Summon Clients only) – Improve the relevancy of “Suggested LibGuides” returned in discipline scoped searches! Head to Edit Guide Info -> Subject Categories to assign specific disciplines to each of your guides.
- Guide Index Updates - Clicking the headers in the Guide Index will now sort the list both forwards AND backwards.
- RSS & Podcast Feeds – We’ve condensed these 2 boxes into one “RSS” box type – cause why have two boxes when one will do?!
- Feedback Box Improvements - We’ve increased the character limit in the email address fields – now you can add more email addresses to receive notifications of new submissions. Click Feedback Box Options to edit the list.
- New Language Support – We’ve added native support for both Serbian and Chinese.
- Increased Password Security – We’re requiring stronger passwords to help keep your account secure.
- Removed “Change Box Type” - This feature caused lots of confusion, so we removed it.
- Bug fixes:
- Sub-page friendly URLs will now appear in the address bar
- Nested friendly URLs no longer break popup windows (such as the “More Information” popups)
Hey, My Admin Pages Look Different – Where’s My Banner?
When you log in to LibGuides after this update, you’ll notice your site’s banner and footer aren’t showing. Here’s why: we regularly receive questions and problem reports from clients asking why particular admin pages and editing functions don’t work, and the culprit always boils down to one thing – a conflict between a site’s custom code and our admin screens. To help alleviate these issues and the frustration they cause, we’re no longer displaying Custom JS/CSS, Header & Footer Code on the admin side of your system. Now, your system functions will always work regardless of the level of customization in your system.
Your patrons won’t notice anything different. The public side of your site remains unchanged, and your guides will look the same in edit mode. Admins who still want to see a banner image on admin pages can head to Admin Stuff -> Look and Feel -> Admin Banner to define a new banner image just for the admin side. This change only impacts admin pages like the Dashboard, Stats pages, System Settings, Look & Feel, etc.
Admin Bonus Round: Have you ever forgotten to close a style tag in your site-wide Custom JS/CSS? C’mon, admit it, you have, and is that blank white page scary or what?! Thanks to this change, forgetting to close a tag won’t lock you out of the site editing functions – pretty cool!
Some might say that we’re a tad psychic here at Springshare. Others might say we’re a bit wackadoo. In fact, both of these groups are right! When we heard that Google is retiring their RSS feed aggregator tool, Reader, on July 1st 2013 we weren’t a bit surprised. We anticipated that something like this might happen when we started noticing issues with the way Google was processing feeds last year and that’s why we moved all of our RSS processing within LibGuides to an in-house system rather than being based upon Google Reader.
What does this mean for your LibGuides system? Absolutely nothing! Your LibGuides RSS box type will remain unaffected by Google Reader’s shutdown. Our powers of psychic detection are strong. And yes, we do know what number you’re thinking of. It’s seven right?! <wink>
Some of you might rely on Google Reader for personal use – feeding your Springshare Support Blog into your Reader accounts so you can always stay up-to-date on all the Springy-happenings. Just so you don’t miss all the latest & greatest, bring your Springshare Support Blog subscription with you when migrating into a new feed aggregator tool. Or, sign-up for email alerts! Just navigate to support.springshare.com and input your email address. Blammo! It’s that easy.
Now, where did we put that crystal ball?!
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’re seeking SpringyCamp proposals and there are only two days left to get your submission in!
What is SpringyCamp, you’re probably asking yourself! SpringyCamp is Springshare’s bi-annual virtual conference where you can learn how colleagues from around the world are using Springshare tools. Springshare4Everyone is this year’s conference theme and we’re looking for submissions on how you’re using Springshare products – easy peasy!
Submit your proposal by March 10th.
Winter breaks and holiday closures are just around the corner. Here are some cool tips and tricks from the Springy Elves to help get the word out on holiday changes to your library hours.
- Change your System Tagline – You’ve got 140 characters to communicate info on holiday closures. Instructions
- Create a custom “Closed” Banner – Sometimes words just aren’t enough – hang up the “closed” sign! Instructions
- Remind Staff via Admin Alert Box – Even elves need the occasional reminder that your site is going on break. Instructions
- Set an “Away” Success Message – Questions submitted via the question form can trigger a “hey, we’re away!” alert. Instructions
- Dont forget the SMS Auto-Responders – Make sure to let folks submitting questions via SMS know you’re away. Instructions
- Hide the question submission form – Allow patrons to search for questions, but prevent them from submitting new questions until you’ve returned from break. Here’s how
- We have a slew of suggestions on things to keep an eye on in your LibCal site.
We hope these suggestions and ideas help make it that much easier for you to relax this holiday season. Happy holidays from all of us at Springshare!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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.
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!