In This Issue
Springy Blossoms: Let 'Em Bloom!
It's April, and flowers are blooming everywhere! (In the northern hemisphere at least; apologies to our friends south of the equator.) Flora of all kinds nurtured indoors or buried under snow or frost are emerging from their wintertime slumbers, spreading color and good cheer all around.
In celebration of all the buds and blooms and blossoms, this issue of Springy News looks at how you can make your Springshare content grow and spread far beyond the bounds of your Springy systems. Best of all, you can make it happen not just in spring but all year round.
The Springshare Team
Widgets & APIs are great ways to get your content out into other websites and accessible from multiple platforms. But you might be asking, what is a widget? How is it different from an API?
What's a Widget?
Widgets are typically micro-applications that do a small, specific task and can be displayed on webpages. You don't need to customize the content or look, they're ready to copy, embed & go.
What's an API?
API, which stands for application programming interface, is a set of instructions and standards for accessing web-based content. Simply put, it is a way to pull out information from one site and embed it in another site! Springshare's APIs are designed to provide lists of content.
What's the Difference?
I Still Don't Understand - Help!
No Problem! The difference between widgets & APIs can be tricky. But your best bet for getting a handle on these robust tools is to play, learn & train! Here's what we recommend!
Playtime with Springshare
Spend time in each of your Springshare products playing with the API and Widget tools. This way, you'll get a real feel for what your Springy Widgets & APIs can do for you. Create a storage guide LibGuide and play!
Tip: Embed only one type of API per product on a page. For example, embedding two LibGuides Subject Category APIs on the same page won't work. They will overwrite each other.
Reading is Fundamental
We've created help documentation for all of our Springy Widgets & APIs. Take a minute, or two, and read how you can use them!
- LibGuides & LibGuides CMS
Sign-up for our Springy Widgets & API training session, which focuses on what Widgets & APIs are, how you can use them and examples of great implementations! Register today:
You may have dozens, even hundreds of guides in your LibGuides system, a robust and full-fledged collection serving many needs. Your LibGuides home page helps users see the breadth and depth of what you have to offer. But it doesn’t have to end—or start—there. With the LibGuides API it’s all about targeting: getting the right content in front of the right people in the right place. Here are a few ways to make it happen.
You Make the Call
We don’t tell you what guides to highlight where. You know your content and your audience best. But we do tell you how to get that content in front of their eyes. In fact, we give you lots of “how-tos” and let you pick the ones that fit the bill.
Click on Tools > API Utility on the orange command bar in LibGuides or LibGuides CMS and your first choice will be “List of guides/pages with links.” Select that and your options are only just beginning.
Here are a few of the many ways you can hand pick the guides and/or pages you want to present to users via API.
- Guides or pages containing a particular term. Give your users links to the homepage of guides with the term or let them zoom directly to the relevant pages. The choice is yours.
- Guides in a subject category. Specify the exact name of a subject category or use a category keyword (e.g. “history” to return guides with “American History,” “Latin American History,” “Business History,” “Women’s History,” etc.)
- Guides tagged with a particular term. Bring a group of guides together regardless of subject categories or keywords by adding a common tag to them and calling that tag via API.
- Guides assigned to a group (LibGuides CMS Only). Already have your guides segmented by group (by discipline, grade, audience, type of guide, or something else)? There’s an API for that, too.
- Guides by librarian. Include all guides you own because they’re right for a certain audience or, well, because they’re you.
Plus, you get to pick how the guides are displayed: with descriptions or without; one line each or in a drop-down; sorted alphabetically or by popularity or by date published; and more. It’s all there for you to decide.
No Space? No Problem!
How does it work? Users click on a subject and—Presto Chango!—it expands to show links to all the guides in that category. Click again and it collapses back to its compact shape.
We’ve got a whole guide explaining how to create the expandable/collapsible subject list. It’s at http://help.springshare.com/subjectmenu. Check it out for detailed instructions, options, and working examples, and put it work for you.
More Choices: Here a Box, There a Box
You can go big with the LibGuides API, pulling together a whole set of guides defined the way you want. Or you can go small with an individual box from any guide in the system.
It can be any box you want. If you can put it in LibGuides you can embed it somewhere else via API.*
- A catalog search box
- A list of key databases in a subject
- Tips for avoiding plagiarism
- Instructions for accessing resources off-site
- News about a library event
* With one exception: Books from the Catalog boxes can include book cover images from Syndetics licensed for your use by Springshare. The license covers use of the images within LibGuides. They can't be displayed on other sites.
What's one of the most important things you can put in front of your users? It's Y-O-U!
Make it easy for the people you serve to know who you are, what you offer, and how to get in touch with you. Use the LibGuides API to put your profile box on an academic department homepage, in a learning management system, or anywhere the folks you want to reach are likely to be.
What will they find there? Everything that LibGuides visitors see when they visit your guides.
That can include:
- Your name and picture
- Contact info (email, phone, office location, etc.)
- An online chat widget
- Links to your full profile page showing all of the guides you've created
- Plus any additional information you've slotted into your profile box
Beyond the Basics
We've put lots of options in the LibGuides API and made it easy for you to choose between them. But we know our users and we know there are some of you that will want even more.
That's where advanced API customizations comes into play.
In addition to all the checkboxes, radio buttons and drop-downs that let you configure your LibGuides API the way you want, we've put together a collection of modifications that you can add to the code you get from the API Utility.
Where did we get these ideas? Mostly from our customers, of course; working librarians have always been a wellspring of recommendations and suggestions for making Springy products better. And We Listen!
Check out the LibGuides API Customization options - and keep those suggestions coming!
Springy Tech Tip: Customizing the LibGuides API
Learn how you can use LibAnalytics, not just for gathering internal data, but also for gathering user-generated feedback! We'll cover how you can use LibAnaltyics for patron feedback as well as tips for ensuring optimal responses!
LibAnalytics is the data-gathjering tool for your library staff. Use LibAnalytics to track and analyze various statistics at your library. Why? So you can make strong data-driven decisions. Librarians log in to your LibAnalytics system and record data as it happens.
What's a Dataset?
A Dataset is a collection of data points centered around a specific desk (Reference Desk Statistics), goal (Database Trials) or trend (Foot Traffic Stats).
You can use LibAnalytics to gather:
- Reference Desk Statistics
- Circulation Desk Statistics
- Instruction/Information Literacy Statistics
- Foot Traffic Data
- Internal Workflow
- ... and more!
But that's all Internal Data collection! How do I gather Patron Feedback?
By using LibAnalytics Widgets! Patron's won't need to log in to 'record' their data. They'll simply access your LibAnalytics widget, which displays as a simple web form, and record their feedback. You'll want to create a unique Dataset for collecting patron data.
How do I setup LibAnalytics to collect User Feedback?
Now that you've discovered the WWLW (Wondrous World of LibAnalytics Widgets), you'll want to set up your Dataset for optimal collection. In order to identify the data variables for collection, you'll want to start by asking yourself the following questions: Who Are My Patrons, and What Do I Want to Ask Them?. (Remember, every library is different! What works for one library might not work for another, so don't look for a one-sized fits all solution. Organize your Dataset so that it answers questions unique to your library and your users.)
Who are my patrons?
If you want to collect patron demographics, then ask targeted questions for easy self-identification.
- Affiliation? Undergraduate, Graduate, Visitor, Faculty, etc.
- Library Experience? Novice or Experienced library user.
Use open-ended Text Fields strategically and sparingly. While these are the most informative they are also the most time consuming for users to complete.
What do I want to ask them?
Do you want to collect feedback on your library's website? Or a satisfaction survey? Need to collect something specific like feedback on a library-led instruction session? Or comments on that author reading? Whatever you're trying to collect, aim for specificity. Don't try and create one mammoth survey collecting website feedback, library satisfaction, and event/instruction comments.
If you want to collect multiple types of feedback, then you'll want to separate those out into distinct Datasets. Each Dataset has it's own Widget Form. This way, you can separate the Website Feedback Form from your Author Reading Event Form.
Creating a great survey! Encouraging users to fill our your Widget Form.
Patrons are in a rush. And we are too. People are busy and if you want to encourage a high-completion rate of your feedback form, then make it easy for them to fill out. When you're constructing your Dataset, include multiple choice & multiple select fields. Want them to comment on ease of use? Or rate your site's look & feel? Use the Slide Scale field - functions similar to a Likert Scale! Check out the rest of our tips for creating a great online survey!
Keep it Short
We've said it before, and we'll say it again. Short and focused surveys aims for quality responses as well as quantity. No one has time, including you, to answer a 'quick' 45 question survey. Keep your abandonment rate low by making it as efficient as possible for successful completion.
Keep it Simple
Avoid jargon. Avoid long leading questions. Keep the question simple and use plain language.
Keep it Closed-Ended
Closed-ended questions, where you give respondents a Yes or No choice, not only make it easier for them to answer but also for you to analyze! Closed-ended questions can be Yes/No, Multiple Choice or Rating Scale. Text Fields are great for gathering user feedback, in their own words. But use these strategically and sparingly as it is more time-consuming for users to enter in their comments. As a tip, do not make the Comments fields required.
Keep it Consistent
When using a rating scale, we recommend that your scales are consistent throughout the survey. If Easy is 1 and Difficult is a 5, don't switch it up on the next question where Love is a 5 and Hate is 1. Your users might be confused by this sudden switch which can lead to inaccuracy in your responses.
Keep it Logical
Use the intro message in your LibAnalytics Widget to briefly explain the reasoning for this survey. For example, "Help us help you! Please answer the following short survey on your most recent library service experience." When constructing a survey, start broad and get narrow in your responses.
Time for a Trial Run
Congratulations, you've created your Dataset! Before you can launch it to your users, we recommend performing a trial run. Share the URL with colleagues outside the library. Inquire about the layout and organization of questions. Does it make sense? Are the questions clear? Once you collected some responses, run some filtering analysis.
This is key! Are you asking the 'right' questions? Perhaps you need to use a multi-choice field instead of a numeric field for that question. Maybe 11 questions is too many - time to cut some content! The trial run is key before launching a feedback survey. You want to ensure that your Dataset is set up for optimal return.
Getting it Out There!
Now that your Dataset has been put through its paces - it's time to get it out there! Here's where your LibAnalytics Widgets come into play! Here are your widget options:
- URL-Based. This widget gives you a dedicated URL which can be sent via email or embedded as a link into any webpage.
- Embeddable Popup. Embed your Dataset form into any webpage. When clicked, the widget pops open in a new window and closes after successful submission. This way, your users won't be led away from the original page.
- In-Page iFrame. Embed the actual form into any webpage. Ideal for short surveys.
With your Widgets, you've got loads of features. We'll run through them quickly and discuss their uses.
- Audience. Since you're collecting data from your users, you'll want to leave this option on General Audience. Running an internal staff survey? Then change it to Account Holders only.
- Layout. Select whether you want the layout as it was originally designed or single column layout.
What goes up, must come down. Every survey has an end-date. Define an optimal time-frame where you'll get the most bang for your proverbial buck.
- Exclude Fields. This option is great for hiding internal fields. This way, you can create a form with internal comments, selections, notes and hide these from the public view!
- Intro Text & Thank You Message. Pretty self explanatory! Add custom text to these important fields.
- Email Notify. Want to be notified every time you receive a submission? Add up to three email addresses separated by a comma.
- On Page Load (Embeddable Popup only). Do you want your survey to appear once the webpage loads?
We've added a new feature to LibCal - the Hours Module. Now you can easily display your library hours, including individual departments within your library and embed them everywhere! Before we cover the Hours Module, you might be asking yourself:
LibCal is a calendaring tool designed for libraries. With LibCal you can:
- Create a calendar of registrable events
- Allow patrons to reserve rooms online (Study Rooms, Instruction Classrooms etc.)
- Book one-on-one consultations with patrons
Wait, is there a free LibCal?
Yes! We have a 3/Free plan! You'll get:
- 3 Calendars: unlimited events/registrations
- 3 My Schedulers for one-on-one patron/librarian consultations
- 3 Room Bookings
Do I get the Hours Module with 3/Free Plan?
Yes! On the 3/Free plan, you can manage hours for a single library.
How Many Libraries/Departments can I manage hours for on a Paid-Pricing Plan?
Unlimited! Yup, we said it. Unlimited! Create and manage hours for as many libraries, branches, departments, rooms or areas of your library that you'd like.
Hours Module Features:
Easily create templates of hours for different libraries, services, branches, departments and even specific time-periods like Semester Hours and Holiday Hours. Templates make it easy to define hours across a time period. I.e. September 1st - December 31st.
Open Past Midnight?
Not a problem! The Hours Module can easily create any and all time spans with ease.
Manage Multiple Locations & Services
Set up and manage multiple locations, libraries, branches, departments, etc.
Display a Map!
The Hours Module integrates with Google Maps so you can easily embed a map displaying your library's location.
Widgets & API - This is Where the Magic Happens
You've got a plethora of Widgets & API Options at your disposal. Easily syndicate your library hours in all your virtual touchpoints like LibGuides, learning management system, website, etc.
- Today's Hours - Display today's hours with a simple API call.
- Weekly Grid View - Show hours for multiple libraries and locations in one easy-to-use display.
- Monthly Calendar View - Display a full month of library hours.
- Weekly/Monthly View - Combines the week/month views into one widget and include location and directional (Google Maps) info too.