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!
Good afternoon SpringyFans! It’s not a conversation unless you hear from us and we’re hearing from you. This post covers just that!
Hearing from Us:
Check out the latest edition of SpringyNews – Going for Gold. The 2012 Summer Olympics, but our opening ceremony featuring LibAnalytics will dazzle and impress anyone looking to solve their data dilemmas. Our Olympians, Jenica Rogers and Stephanie Rollins share their real-life stories of how they’re using LibAnalytics to improve and streamline their libraries. Also, be sure to check out fan favorites Springy Tips & Tricks and our latest Product Updates! Borrowing the Olympic motto, Springshare supports “Swifter Service, Higher Standards, Stronger Statistics!”
Hearing From You:
SpringyCamp is back y’all and we’re looking for presenters for our November, 2012 Virtual Conference on Focusing on UX (User Experience): Understanding & Meeting the Needs of Users. So we want to know:
- How are you 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 degrees of separation between the library and the user?
- How are you making it easier/faster/efficient for library staff to meet user needs?
- How are you able to streamline work for the library while still meeting the needs of the users?
Program Level: Designed for all Audiences
Note: Springshare understands that your time is precious. Therefore, selected presenters will receieve an honorarium for their time and effort. It’s our way of saying thanks!
Interested? Submit your proposal today!
I’ll tell you a secret; Spring is my favorite time of year. It’s not the fresh-faced daffodils and tulips, or the Sparrow’s returning song, nor is it the return of reasonably priced berries in the grocery store. Hands down, the absolute best part of Spring is the super energizing phenomenon of Spring Cleaning. If you’re like me (giddy about cleaning and passionate about lists), read on for ideas on doing a bit of Spring Cleaning in your guides!
- Are you using the same content over and over in your guides? Now’s a great time to come up with a Reusable Content Strategy for your links to resources, content boxes, and even entire pages.
- Create a centralized “Storage“, or “Template” guide, and create “linked” versions of that content throughout your guides
- Any future changes to your storage content will automatically update in all the “linked” versions across your site!
- Thinking about a site redesign? Check out the Best Of Customizations for a bit of inspiration!
- Been holding on to outdated, unpublished content? Spring is a great time for weeding and decluttering!
- Looking for ideas on new goodies to embed in your guides? Check out Using Interactive Tools in your Guides for some fresh ideas!
Have more ideas for bringing the Spring Cleaning mindset to your guides? Share them in the comments!
We are very excited to announce a brand-new release of LibAnswers system with tons of new features and improved functionality. The updates went out this past weekend so everything is live already. Here is the rundown of the new stuff:
- LibAnalytics. We introduced a new product called LibAnalytics, which borrows from the functionality of the current Reference Analytics module. This is for libraries who require the statistics functionality of the Analytics module but do not need the rest of the LibAnswers system (public q/a, the ability for patrons to ask questions, etc). In LibAnalytics, libraries can define multiple analytics instances – each instance can track up to 10 metadata fields with up to 30 values per field. You can track anything you want with LibAnalytics, i.e. it is not just limited to reference. So, track and analyze away! Please contact us if you would like more information on LibAnalytics.
- The Reference Analytics module has been expanded to support additional instances as well (just like the LibAnalytics product but this is integrated into LibAnswers). Now the Reference Analytics clients can define multiple analytics instances (i.e. if you’d like to track statistics at the circulation desk, info literacy sessions statistics, or media desk, etc – you can track anything you’d like). Contact us if you’d like more information on the expanded Reference Analytics module.
- The “More Ways to Contact Us” box now has icons/options for phone contact and email contact (previously it only had twitter/sms contact icons). With this enhancement your patrons can easily note how to contact you via the phone or email.
- Private questions can now have replies. Emailed answers include a link for the recipient where they can comment/leave a reply to the answer. These replies/conversations are threaded in the View/edit private answer page.
- It is now possible to “close” a question without sending an answer.
- Linked answers! They are here, at last! When answering a public question you can “link” to an existing answer, so any changes to the original entry will automatically be propagated to all “linked” answers (it works just like linked pages/linked boxes in LibGuides).
- Added privacy/access control options. Now you can put your entire system behind an IP access/address range, or you can password-protect access to the entire system. There is also a new option to disallow search engine indexing.
- Improved QuerySpy interface. QuerySpy is the unsung hero of LibAnswers – people love it and for a good reason. Now it’s easier to use – you can delete entries from the grid, set date range filters, export data to excel, etc. Check it out – it’s cool!
- Improved “Comments” for q/a pairs. Comments can now be edited directly from the admin interface. Logged in users’ comments are approved automatically, and you can automatically send an email to the original questioner, with the text of the comment.
- “Change Topic” dropdown now appears on the homepage, to enable visitors to easily browse the list of topics.
- “Featured Questions” box on the homepage – now you can customize which questions will appear on the homepage (this works just like the featured guides box in LibGuides).
- Improved mobile interface – you can now set the default text inside the “Ask us” box in the mobile interface.
- The “success” message on the question form submission page is now fully customizable.
- Emailed answers now explicitly note if there is multimedia (videos, or attached files) associated with the answer, and point the email recipient to the anchored page where they can view this multimedia.
- To see other questions from the same email address you can click on the email address in the “Unanswered” tab or click the link next to the email in the answer/edit page for the individual answer.
- Link checker! Yes, you read it correctly, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Link checker is now available in LibAnswers, too – it will periodically (twice a month) check the validity of links you included as part of your answers.
Phew, that’s a lot of new stuff, so check it out when you get a chance and, as always, please let us know what you think. Thanks to everybody who contributed their ideas, comments, suggestions, testing, and blood sweat and tears which went into developing this awesome new LibAnswers release.
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 - http://help.springshare.com/advertisingsms. 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.
http://help.springshare.com/advertisingsms. Use it, and don’t lose it!
If you don’t have our SMS/Texting module for LibAnswers, check out what you’re missing!
We are pleased to announce a first major update of the SMS Module for LibAnswers. Our SMS Module clients now have these 3 exciting new functions available to them:
- Send an SMS.
You can now send direct SMS messages to patrons from LibAnswers (i.e. not just reply to a text message sent by a patron but also initiate a text message as well). On the My Admin screen click on the “Send SMS” link, per below:
This opens up many new opportunities in utilizing the SMS module functionality. Here are several scenarios for when this new feature comes in really handy:
For example, if a reference librarian is helping a patron at a reference desk but needs more time to complete the research, they can send an SMS message to the patron when done – while the patron is somewhere else in the library, e.g. studying or browsing the stacks. TXTing them is less intrusive than a phone call yet more timely than an email – an ideal use for the new “Send an SMS” feature in LibAnswers.
Librarians can also use this new feature to notify patrons when a book or an interlibrary loan they requested arrives. Another neat use scenario is the following – say a patron is at a reference desk asking for a specific item – rather than taking a printout with the information about the article/book/whatever the librarian can simply TXT the information to the patron so they will have it with them in their phone for easy access.
These are just a few exciting ideas on how to use the new “Send an SMS” feature to make the communication and interaction with patrons more effective!
- SMS auto-response keywords.
This is just too cool. Imagine texting “hours” and getting an automatic response with the library’s working hours. Or texting “summer reads” and immediately getting back a list of fun summer reading recommendations compiled by librarians. How about texting “new dvds” to get the list of new dvd arrivals?
Our new SMS keywords feature makes all this possible. With it you are able to define any number of SMS “keywords” and when patrons text that keyword to your local LibAnswers SMS number they get an instant auto-response that you defined. Pretty awesome, right? We thought so too! The possibilities for this feature are truly endless. You can get as creative as you want in getting timely and useful information to patrons. It’s an ideal tool for conducting marketing campaigns in your library.
You can define as many keywords as you want, and each keyword can have a response of up to 300 characters (e.g. two sms messages of 150 characters each). The keywords are not case sensitive, so if you define “Hours”, it will work just as good as “hours” or “HOURS”.
Besides the examples mentioned above (“hours”, “new dvds”, “summer reads”) here are a few more ideas to get started with the keywords feature for your library:
- For libraries with multiple branches or multi-library campuses text the library name for hours of each location.
-”Directions” for the directions of how to get to the library.
-”Book club” for the book club meeting times/locations.
-”Events” for the listing of events at the library for any given week/month.
-”New arrivals” to get the list of new arrivals.
-”Keywords” – an automatic message with all the available keywords you defined!
As you can see, we are super-excited about this SMS Automatic keywords feature and we hope we were able to pass some of that excitement on to you because your library marketing and patron communication can take a big leap forward with this new feature.
The SMS keywords are set up in the System Settings tab, under the “SMS Module setup” submenu.
- Ability to define “off-hours” autoresponders for each day of the week.
This is not an entirely new feature but an enhancement of the existing one. Previously, you were able to define “off-hours” auto-responders (i.e. if someone sends an SMS question at 2am, you are able to define the off-hours automatic response) but you were limited in defining one for the weekdays and one for the weekends. This worked well if your hours are the same for Mon-Fri, and then for Sat-Sun, but if you had different hours on Fri than on Mon-Thu (for example) it didn’t quite work for you. So, we re-coded this feature to let you define the hours of operation for every day of the week separately. If you had the auto-response times defined previously please go back to them and redefine them for each day.
These are customized in the System Settings tab, under the “SMS Module setup” submenu.
As always, let us know what you think (firstname.lastname@example.org) and if you have your own ideas on how to make the LibAnswers and SMS module work even better, please let us know – we’re all ears when it comes to this stuff!
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.
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:
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. http://www.wolframalpha.com/addtoyoursite.html
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:
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 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 – support at springshare dot com.