Monday, July 25, 2016

Updated look for the staffing client and admin dashboard

Hope everyone is having a great summer!  Quick heads up that we pushed out some aesthetic changes to the webclient for staffing and the admin dashboard recently.  Though we've modernized the look and feel, there are no major changes to the underlying functionality for this latest update.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ask a Librarian spit and polish

Hi folks!  We are solidly into summer and we all know what that means...  It's time to re-group and shore up for the next academic season.  To help you get the most out of your Ask a Librarian service when students return, we've dusted off and updated our checklist from last year with some new ideas.

Ask a Librarian Check List

  • checkboxIs help available anywhere a patron might need assistance?  
    • Action item: Check all the usual places: website, subject and course guides, catalogs, databases, mobile apps.  Don't forget your 404 (not found) page!
  • checkboxCan patrons easily locate chat and FAQs on your web pages with just a glance?
    • Pro tip: Aim for a consistent, highly visible place where patrons can always find help.
    • Action item: Ask a friend to play the part of a patron and see how long it takes them to find help without intervention.
  • checkboxDo you proactively invite patrons to chat?  
    • Action item: If a patron has been sitting on a page for a while, they might be stuck.  Add a proactive chat invitation to your web page and ask them if they need help. 
  • checkboxAre patrons getting the help they need?
    • Pro tip: You can search the chat metadata on the Activity page to find unanswered chats and evaluate wait times.
    • Action item: Create canned messages for librarians to use when responding to patrons.  This saves a lot of redundant typing and speeds up response time.
    • Action item: Do you find yourself always asking patrons for the same info? Set up a concierge auto-responder which immediately triggers a request for that info so the librarian has what they need up front to better serve the patron.
  • checkboxCan patrons get help after hours?
    • Action item: When chat is offline, point patrons to your searchable FAQ.  (Don't have a LibraryH3lp FAQ, email us and we'll create and customize one to match your website for free!)
    • Consider back-up staffing: Our partner, Chatstaff, provides responsive, high quality back-service 24/7 or for select hours.

Text a Librarian Check List

  • checkboxDo patrons know about your Text a Librarian service?
    • Action item: Advertise on your website and make it easy for patrons to use.  Here's a handy HTML example:
      <a href="sms:15555551234">Text us at 1-555-555-1234!</a>
    • Action item: Advertise on all printed promotional materials and during tours and instruction sessions
    • Action item: Encourage patrons to add the library to their contacts list for later use.
  • checkboxDouble-check your offline auto-response.
    • Action item: Pretend you are a patron and text your service when it is offline.  If the offline auto-response misses the mark, email us with a new auto-response 140 characters or fewer.

Email a Librarian Check List

  • checkboxIs email reference integrated with the rest of your virtual services? 
    • Action item: Activate the 3mail module to integrate email into the staffing workflow. 3mail is a simple email system that makes the LibraryH3lp webclient one stop shopping for answering chat and email questions. 
    • Action item: Train staff to use Tag for Follow-up.  When chats can't be answered right away and you need to get back to the patron, tag for follow-up automatically sends email to pre-designated addresses with transcript attached.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

You may be surprised at what you can do with an API

We enjoyed meeting many librarians at Code4Lib last week! While LibraryH3lp of course has oodles of standard features available through our graphical management interfaces, we wanted to take a moment to open up the hood and illustrate some of the things we can offer to those interested in diving a bit deeper.

The LibraryH3lp REST API provides programmatic access to resources (like users, queues, chat box skins, code snippets, FAQs) included with your subscription or trial and makes it easy to write and test custom scripts to manage your account.

You can use your browser to access URLs and make use of pretty much any HTTP client in any programming language.  If you happen to dig Python, we have a ready-made SDK available under @libraryh3lp on GitHub.

But when there’s so much flexibility, sometimes it is hard to know where to start!  Here are some ideas to get you started…

Account Management

  • Create a new user, automatically adding her to queues, conference rooms, canned message pools, and buddying her with colleagues. 
  • Perform a search/replace operation across FAQs.
  • Bulk import questions and answers into a FAQ.
  • Edit questions or templates in the console. Because consoles rock.

Chat

  • Display staff chat status as an in/out board. 
  • Count the number of active chats and the number of operators currently staffing chat.
  • Receive reports when too few operators are staffing.
  • See if chat is online and, if not, why not. 
  • Somebody forgot to log out.  Opt that operator out of staffing so guests don't think you're available.
  • Update staffing assignments on a schedule.
  • Create a chat bot to answer basic guest questions.

Metadata/Statistics

  •  Forward all of yesterday's chats to your inbox.
  •  Get a summary of last week's activity. 
  •  Delete last month’s transcripts. 
  •  Download chat transcripts for import into Excel.
  •  Download a record of FAQ views and searches.

3mail

  •  Poll 3mail for new messages and send notifications via chat or email.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ask a Librarian Mobile App now in Amazon Appstore

The Ask a Librarian mobile app is now available through the Amazon Appstore for Android, making it available to patrons with Kindle Fire devices and devices running Android 4.0 and up.  As with the Google Play store and iTunes App store, the Ask a Librarian mobile app is completely free -- with no advertising of any sort nor in-app purchases.

If you are just hearing about the Ask a Librarian mobile app, let's get you up to date!  The app helps patrons find libraries by location or name.  The app also remembers previously visited or favorite libraries so patrons can quickly pick up where they left off.  Patrons have easy access all available virtual references services like chat, texting, phone, email, and FAQs. All libraries and library consortia are invited to participate for free!  That's right.  Any library.  No charge.  No fine print.

How can I download the app to my mobile device?



My library isn't listed in the app.  How do we get started?


Email us and we'll set you up with a default, unpublished listing.  Each library listing lets you list any available virtual reference services. These services may include real-time chat with librarians, text a librarian, phone a librarian, email a librarian, and frequently asked questions. Libraries can also include a customized avatar, a website link and additional free-form information such as operating hours.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Join the Ask a Librarian App -- Now in Production!

About two months ago, we first announced the Ask a Librarian mobile app for Android and iOS.  A big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the beta and provided feedback.  We've folded your feedback into the app and today we're excited to announce that the app is now out of beta and freely available to everyone, including patrons!

For those of you who missed the original announcement, the Ask a Librarian app helps patrons find libraries by location or name.  The app also remembers previously visited or favorite libraries so patrons can quickly pick up where they left off.  Patrons have easy access all available virtual references services like chat, texting, phone, email, and FAQs.  Any library or library consortium, regardless of software platform, can be included in Ask a Librarian for free! 

How can I download the production app to my mobile device?



I took part in the Beta. How do I promote the app to patrons?


Feel free to provide the direct links listed above to the app to patrons on your website or any other promotional materials you have.  And for one stop shopping, you can direct patrons to the Ask a Librarian website that contains the download links to the app plus screenshots and an overview of the app's functionality.

If you'd like to include the Ask a Librarian app logo in your promotion, you can download it here.

My library isn't listed in the app.  How do I get my library included?


Email us and we'll set you up with a default, unpublished listing.  Each library listing lets you list any available virtual reference services. These services may include real-time chat with librarians, text a librarian, phone a librarian, email a librarian, and frequently asked questions. Libraries can also include a customized avatar, a website link and additional free-form information such as operating hours.  Any library or library consortium, regardless of software platform, can be included in Ask a Librarian for free!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Become Part of the Ask a Librarian App


[Update Nov. 12, 2015: The Ask a Librarian App is now out of beta and in production!]

We'd like to invite all libraries to become part of the new Ask a Librarian App currently undergoing beta testing. Ask A Librarian is a mobile app that we've developed in conjunction with our back-up service partner, Chatstaff, that connects patrons to a library's reference services, including chat, texting, email, and frequently asked questions. Any library or library consortium, regardless of software platform, can be included in Ask a Librarian at no charge.

What does the Ask a Librarian app do?


When patrons aren't sure what libraries are nearby, they can use the browse function that locates nearby libraries or libraries around a particular  location. Patrons can also search for their favorite library by name.  The app remembers the libraries patrons have visited previously so they can quickly revisit those libraries and pick up where they left off. And patrons can favorite and revisit libraries later.

Each library listing summarizes available virtual reference services. These services may include real-time chat with librarians, text a librarian, phone a librarian, email a librarian, and frequently asked questions. Libraries can also include a customized avatar, a website link and additional free-form information such as operating hours.

How can I test drive the Ask a Librarian app?


For Android, use the Google Play beta link to download the app to your device.

For iOS, send us a request by email and then we'll be able can send you an emailed beta invite through Apple. The Ask a Librarian app itself works with iOS 6 and higher.  But while the app is in beta testing, it is only available through Test Flight which requires iOS 8 and higher.

How can my library be included in the Ask a Librarian app?


Send us email indicating your interest and we'll set you up with a default, unpublished listing.  From there, you can edit the listing to suit and publish it when you're ready. Any library or library consortium, regardless of software platform, can be included in Ask a Librarian at no charge.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Adding a 'Click to Chat' or 'Ask a Librarian' tab to your Web Page

Chat tabs are a handy option for consistent chat help placement, especially when page real estate is dear. With LibraryH3lp, you can easily create a tab with customized wording that opens a chat widget when a guest clicks it. You also control the offline appearance of the tab and can direct guests to email, an email contact form, or your FAQ when your service is unavailable.

It only takes a bit of extra styling to transform your LibraryH3lp service into a tab. And no worries if you don't know anything about CSS or HTML. Our step-by-step tab guide walks you through it.  You need only cut and paste the styles.

LibraryH3lp website 'Click to Chat' tab