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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Easy-to-Update Public Announcements for any Web Page

Need a quick and easy way to manage announcements on a web page? You know, something that non-technical staff could use to update content on high-profile web pages without needing to touch the web page itself. Happily, your LibraryH3lp-powered FAQ lets you do just that.

Simply add a question to your FAQ site whose answer is the announcement content you wish to embed.  Then use the answer-only embed option to auto-magically include the announcement content within your web page.  From there, you and your colleagues need only update the answer content to keep your web page up-to-date with the latest information.

You can use your FAQ for all sorts of announcements...
  • General announcements or updates
  • Library news items
  • Database, catalog, or any other statuses, including outages and planned maintenance
  • Weather-related closings or hours changes
  • Emergency situations and directions
How are you using your FAQ?  We'd love to hear about it!  Please add a comment below or e-mail us.





Sunday, August 2, 2015

New FAQ customization options

FAQ sites received an update this weekend.  This update brings the ability to customize the wording for everything that shows up for users viewing your FAQ.  This is especially important because it means that the public view of a FAQ in a non-English language can be fully translated now, with no pesky English-language default system components in view. And of course, if your FAQ is in English, you can now fully customize all of the default labels.



These new customizations build on functionality previously available within FAQ templates. Specifically:
  1. To customize the 'Not finding what you need? Contact us' phrase, add this to your base.html template somewhere within the BODY element:

    <div id="contact-us" style="display:none">Custom text</div>
  2. To customize the 'Ask Us!' button in the instant search results, add this to your base.html template somewhere within the BODY element:

    <div id="ask-us" style="display:none">Custom text</div>
  3. To customize the 'All' topic in the search.html template, you'll need to update the 'All' wording in the #current-topic element then you'll need add the following to the base.html template:

    <div id="all-topics" style="display:none">Customization</div>
New to LibraryH3lp FAQs? The LibraryH3lp FAQ module lets you create your own custom external or internal (password-protected) searchable, browseable knowledgebase. You get unlimited independent FAQ sites with your LibraryH3lp subscription. FAQs are simple to build and if you have an existing FAQ outside of LibraryH3lp, we can help you import it. 

Want to see what others have done with the LibraryH3lp FAQ module? Check out our Pinterest board showcasing super neat FAQ customizations. And let us know if you have a FAQ you'd like to see included in the Pinterest board.  We'd love to add it!