New LibraryH3lp Feature: FAQ Module

Recently, our library has been studying ways to improve the quality of our instant messaging reference service. While we’re thrilled the popularity of IM reference has continued to grow (according to our data, the number of questions we answered nearly quintupled during the two year period from 2008-2010!), increasing popularity can also lead to not-so-fun growing pains.

Once such instance is when, typically during evenings or weekends, our reference services are single-staffed. Juggling multiple in-person and virtual reference interactions can make it difficult for one person to provide prompt service, leading to frustrations from librarians and students alike.

As we have been looking for ways to alleviate such situations, I was happy to see LibraryH3lp debut their new Frequently Asked Questions (long-time readers might remember we discussed using LibraryH3lp to address previous IM conundrums). Although I’ve see other examples of FAQ’s on various libraries’ websites, LibraryH3lp makes it easy to create a searchable (and mobile friendly!) FAQ site you can build to supplement other reference service resources.

LibraryH3lpFAQ

LibraryH3lpFAQ

Building the FAQ site is relatively straightforward. LibraryH3lp users can start right away using the “FAQ” tab in their admin site.

First, check out the “Questions” tab where you can add questions and answers. You can also assign each question to any number of topics, which will then be browse-able on your live FAQ site. You can also visit the “Questions” tab after your page is set up to view usage statistics like the number of views and likes or dislikes per question.

Adding a question to LibraryH3lp FAQ

The “Pages” tab allows you to customize specific features of your FAQ page. Here, you can specify the URL, assign a theme, enter additional contact information, and customize how the LibraryH3lp chat widget appears on the FAQ page. Additionally, you can customize any section of the page with standard HTML and/or your own CSS through using the “Templates.”

Pages tab in LibraryH3lp FAQ module

Pages tab in LibraryH3lp FAQ module

For more specific details about setting up and configuring your own FAQ module, see the LibraryH3lp documentation. And check out Library H3lp’s own FAQ page for an example.

We’re hoping that sending our chat users a quick “Hello, we’ll be right with you!” message along link to a more in-depth, searchable FAQ page while they are waiting for further assistance will help improve the responsiveness of our IM reference services. While this certainly does not provide the same depth and level of service their eventual chat with librarian will, it is quick and simple to set up and could be a good resource for users who have a commonly asked question or just need to be pointed to some quick facts about the library.

We’re just starting to get our FAQ page set-up, and I will provide updates to this post as we progress and finalize our page.  In the mean time, does your library have a similar FAQ resource you’ve found successful?  We’d love to see it!

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Introducing “Tech Roundups!”

We have a new feature on Library Tech Talk!

Our Technology Committee members here at Towson University’s Cook Library are always on the hunt for new technology applications to bring into the library or technology-related issues our library should be addressing.  As we scour the internet for important, interesting, or just plain cool examples of technology applications, issues, or news, we’ll be posting links and  summaries with our take here to the blog. Please enjoy our first Tech Roundup!


FoldIt

FoldIt is an online game which allows people to create proteins. It is also a great example of the power of making information openly accessible. Proteins can be made into various shapes, but some shapes are better than others; create a better protein, get more points. With the potential to empower ordinary people to create scientific discoveries, citizen science projects like FoldIt show how scientists who share their data can benefit from people all over the world who are interested enough to spend time manipulating and interpreting their data for them. And this is not limited to science. Many archives have created projects that utilize crowd sourcing to help transcribe and digitize older documents (e.g., Papers of the War Department  and Transcribe Bentham).

To hear more formally about this topic, check out the webcast of this WebWise 2012 event, Session 2 – Sharing Public History Work: Crowdsourcing Data and Sources. 

Submitted by Laksamee

New eBook Survey Findings From OverDrive and ALA: “Library Borrowers Also Buyers”

Publishers and authors sometimes argue that they will never receive proper compensation from library e-book subscriptions.  One proposed solution is that publishers should set limits on annual access for each e-book subscription.  However, this recent article from OverDrive and ALA provides evidence that library patrons are purchasing e books that they initially access at the library.  All e-Resources have relevance to our work. If publisher’s set limits on subscriptions it could become a huge financial burden to the library.  If there is proof that libraries are feeding the industry, limits should not be enforced.

Submitted by Shannon

SMIL

From the W3C: “The Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL, pronounced “smile”) enables simple authoring of interactive audiovisual presentations. SMIL is typically used for “rich media”/multimedia presentations which integrate streaming audio and video with images, text or any other media type. SMIL is an easy-to-learn HTML-like language, and many SMIL presentations are written using a simple text-editor.”  The W3C’s site includes links to tutorials and software, including authoring tools and software. The SMIL Wikipedia article also mentions that  SMIL is being used in mobile devices to deliver content in the Multimedia Messaging Service; for advanced interactivity in HD DVD; and in digital signage. For more information, check out SMIL 3.0: Flexible multimedia for Web, mobile devices and Daisy talking books by Dick C.A. Bulterman and Lloyd Rutledge.

Submitted by Paul

“Google wants to turn Chrome into a videoconferencing tool

The article discusses how Google is working to enable its Chrome browser to natively support video conferencing.  If this plan comes to fruition, it would offer students and librarians a simple and inexpensive way to video conference.

Submitted by Matt M.

“As Libraries Go Digital, Sharing of Data is at Odds with Tradition of Privacy”

This article from The Chronicle of Higher Education discusses some issues surrounding balancing traditional notions of “privacy” with libraries increased push for data sharing, particularly with regards to increasing our social-media related activities. I think there are some really good examples here demonstrating one struggle librarians are facing daily – how do we embrace new and future technologies to add value to our services, while staying true to our core traditions and values? As a library patron, I think a project like that described at Harvard is really neat and I would be curious to see, in real-time, which books are popular with other users. However, as a librarian I’m keenly aware of some of the potential privacy concerns harvesting user data like this can present. How do we reconcile and best use technological advances with our own professional values?

Submitted by Kim


What do you think about some of the issues or technologies presented?  Have you found anything interesting online this week? Share in the comments!

Guest Post: Image Codr for CC images

I love the idea of Creative Commons works. The idea that a creator can set his or her own parameters on what is “fair” use is incredibly powerful. Policing image usage in a digital age can be quite hairy, however. Copy and paste, drag and drop, and “save image as” are all quick and easy ways to grab digital images from the web. Even those of us with the best of intentions for attributing our images often have a hard time keeping the proper documentation connected with the correct images. As an academic librarian, I really want to set a good example for my students by citing all of my images correctly, but I don’t want to have to juggle image files, CC licenses, and links to creators separately.
That’s where Image Codr comes in. As Image Codr says on its website, there are a number of steps involved in properly citing a CC image on a website.
  • Make sure you understood the license correctly
  • Get the correct HTML code for the IMG tag
  • Link the image back to the Flickr photo page
  • Give the author of the image proper credits (Attribution)
  • Link to the Flickr profile of the author
  • Link to the license the image is licensed under
 Image Codr works with CC images from Flickr to make sure that the CC license is understood, to link the image back to the Flickr page, and to give credit to the creator. All you have to do is find a CC image you like, such as this one:
Go to the Image Codr website and click on “Get code!” Enter the website URL, like this:
The result is a webpage that clearly tells you the parameters of the CC license and gives you a chunk of code to copy into your webpage with all the proper links and attributions.
And, voila! Here’s what the code looks like generated on this page:
As Summer into Autumn slips by Robert S. Donovan, on Flickr
I love this site because it takes the guess work out of citing CC images, which I feel is the one complicating factor of CC in general. This site gives a correct, consistent way to cite images on your website without having to do any hand coding. There is also the option to drag a bookmark from the “Get code” page into your browser’s toolbar, so you don’t even have to go to the Image Codr website once you’ve found an image you like.
As for finding CC images on Flickr, you can certainly use Flickr’s own interface by either browsing through their CC images or selecting to search in “The Commons” from the advanced search screen. Image Codr also has a simple search interface that redirects to Flickr. Another option, and the one that I use most frequently, is FlickrCC Blue Mountains. This is an external site that searches only Flickr CC images and redirects you to the Flickr page for grabbing the image. It’s a bare bones site, but I find it to be much easier to use for searching CC images than Flickr’s own site.

Meggan Frost is the Public Services Librarian at Paul Smith’s College in Paul Smiths, NY. As a librarian in a small school, her job requires her to be a jack-of-all-trades, although she spends most of her time trying to create great classes and workshops. A freelancing musician in a previous life, her interests in librarianship are centered on academic libraries with an emphasis on multimedia resources. You can read more at http://librarianmeg.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @doubleG2718.