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LibraryH3lp Blog

LibraryH3lp is software used by libraries, educators, and non-profits for better customer service.

Monday, October 22, 2018

New webclient preferences and optional note when emailing transcripts

Monday, October 22, 2018
We just released a few improvements, mostly for the webclient for staffing, directly as a result of excellent feedback from folks like you.  Additionally, we'll be including future announcements directly in the webclient for staffing, 3mail standalone page, and admin dashboard.  When you log in to any of those three and there's a new announcement, you'll see that announcement in a purple box at the top of the page.

Now, here's the rundown of those improvements we mentioned...

New, optional note when emailing transcripts

When emailing transcripts from either the webclient for staffing or the Chat History page or the chat management page (used mostly by those folks who staff with third-party chat clients like Pidgin), you can now include an optional note along with the transcript just like you already can with tag for follow-up.  Super handy for providing context as to why someone is receiving the transcript.

Two options for guest status change notifications

As part of our guest re-engagement feature, we added timestamped messages into the chat transcript for operators so that you have a persistent, timestamped history of when guests come and go during a chat.  This is currently the default behavior and provides the most context on the guest's behavior.

As a bit of background, guest comings and goings are especially common with guests in a couple of contexts.  On mobile devices, the device kills the network connection to the chat box when the chat box is not in front, and so the guest will appear to go offline when they bring something else to the top and return again to online when they bring the chat box back to the front.  On websites where the chat box is embedded in the page (or embedded within a tab), the guest's status toggles on page navigation.  They start the chat on one page and then navigate around the website, picking up the chat on later pages as they go.  This is seamless from the guest's perspective, and chat operators can continue to send messages even when the guest is in an offline state.

Depending on your set-up, these persistent guest status messages can become overly verbose.  If you'd prefer not to see the full timestamped guest status history and instead just have a 'simple guest is offline' indicator as part of the chat, uncheck the 'Include guest status as part of chat' checkbox in your webclient preferences. Webclient preferences are available within the webclient for staffing and set on a per-user basis.

Left screenshot shows default timestamped message guest status history.
Right screenshot shows simple, current guest status indicator.

Ability to disable away/busy reminders

The webclient for staffing periodically checks your status and will remind you (if you have visual notifications enabled) if you are set as away or busy.  When away or busy, you won't be available to answer any new incoming chats, so this reminder can come in handy if you forget to set your status back to available.  But if you find these new reminders annoying, you can turn them off by unchecking the "Remind me when I've been busy or away for awhile" checkbox in your webclient preferences. Webclient preferences are available within the webclient for staffing and set on a per-user basis.

Uppercase Guest IDs

Previously, we used only numbers in guest IDs.  Recently we switched to a combination of letters and numbers to pave the way for future improvements.  We received some feedback that the lower case letters were a bit hard to read, so guest IDs are now a combination of upper case letters and numbers when shown to the operator in the webclient.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Big update: re-engage with recent guests, timer-triggered rollover, and more!

Sunday, July 29, 2018
We're pushing out a big update with some new exciting features!  We'll run down the changes shortly, but here is the release schedule for all of our regional servers:
  1. Canada: released July 29, 2018
  2. Europe, Singapore: August 4, 2018
  3. Main/US: August 11, 2018

It's a good idea to clear browser cache prior to signing into the webclient to make sure you have the latest.  Hold down the SHIFT key while clicking reload/refresh in your browser at the webclient login page.

Onward to the features!

Re-engage with Recent Guests

Ever close a guest's chat window and then think of something you'd really love to add?  Now, you can do exactly that.

Jump-starting a chat for a guest that is still hanging around in the chat box.

When you (the chat operator) close the chat on your side, the guest will move into a new Recent Guests contacts group.  Locate your guest in there and click on them to re-open their chat window, and send your message.  That's all there is to it!

If the guest is still hanging out with the chat box open on their (the guest's) side, they'll appear with a green dot and will display as a contact by default.

If the guest navigated away from the chat box, you'll need to show offline guests in your chat client, and then locate the guest to send your new message.  Guests come and go a lot as they move around web pages, and if they re-visit the chat box, they'll see the messages that you sent while they were not present.

Jump-starting a chat if the guest has moved away from the chat box.  They'll get your message on returning to chat.

We've created a short, silent movie showing how to re-engage a guest that has navigated away and then returns.

You can re-engage with guests in ended chats or who have navigated off of the chat box for up to an hour.  This feature is not limited to the webclient and also works in chat clients like Pidgin and Adium.

Timer-triggered safety net for simple rollover queues

If a chat goes unanswered for 75 seconds, you can have it automatically roll over to another queue.

This feature works with our existing "simple service rollover" mechanism.  With simple rollover, a designated queue backs up other queues.  For example, a specialized queue staffed by only a small number of operators can receive backup from a more general queue that is staffed over longer hours.  Read more about service rollover...

We're working on an update to the queues management dashboard page that lets you manage this directly, but if you'd like to enable this now, contact us through our regular support channels with the desired rollover order and queue names, and we'll hook it up for you.

Webclient enhancements

Away and Busy status reminders

When you are on Away or Busy status, you'll receive desktop notifications every ten minutes, just in case you forgot to change back to Available.  This feature requires that you have Show visual notifications enabled in your webclient settings.

Hide contact avatars option

Option to hide avatars in contacts list.  This creates a more information-dense view and allows you to see more of your contacts all at once, without scrolling.

Expand/collapse contact groups

Click the group title (for example, Recent Guests, Current Guests, and Queues) to collapse or expand the list of contacts associated with that group. 

Guest metadata added to profile overlay

The guest's IP and referring URL continue to display at the top of the chat messages.  That is fine, but it means you need to scroll up if you want to double-check later in the chat.  Now, you can also access this guest metadata without scrolling by clicking on the profile avatar that stays fixed at the top of the guest's chat window.  The guest's information will be at the top.  
Access guest metadata in floaty profile at any time, no scrolling required.

Note that if you have enabled the option to always open profiles in new browser tabs, you will not see the guest's metadata.  The new feature only applies to the floating profile overlays.  

"Floaty chat window" layout usability improvements 

If you have the "Automatically arrange and size chat windows" option turned off, you're using what we call the "floaty chat window" layout.  This means you have individual chat windows for each guest, and you can drag them around the workspace and resize them, instead of having the webclient auto-tile your chat windows.

In the floaty layout:
  • The "close/end chat" icon is no longer a drag handle, so you won't accidentally close chats by trying to drag them starting from the top right corner.
  • Contacts list defaults to right side of workspace, so that new chats will not appear on top of it.
  • You can resize chat windows from any edge, not just the lower right corner.

New IP retention options

LibraryH3lp has been crafted from the ground-up as a privacy-first application, and so we were in good shape for the new GDPR regulation.  Libraries can fully control their transcript retention and have access to an "anonymize" feature.  Guests are given anonymous ID numbers by default, with no software requirement to provide identifying information.  

GDPR treats IP addresses as sensitive, but it also allows for storing such data if there is a business case for it.  IPs are used to support the "block" feature, and they are often used to help determine whether a guest is on campus when chatting about licensed resource access issues.  However, now, we have additional options for ongoing storage:

  1. Save the IP indefinitely, until the chat is deleted or our "anonymize" feature is used.  This is the default.
  2. Never save the IP, so it vanishes after the chat is completed.
  3. Save only the subnet for the IP (all but the numbers after the last dot).  This allows continued analysis via geo-IP tools or on/off campus determinations, without ability to associate the IP with a specific individual.

If you'd like Option 2 or 3 set up, let us know through our regular support channels.  You can use the same routine across all queues, or mix-and-match.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Updated Guest IDs

Monday, May 21, 2018
Hi all!  Just a quick update to let you know that the guest IDs for chat have changed slightly.  We're moving to a format that is a little shorter and consists of letters as well as the numbers.  Functionally speaking, nothing has changed.  But this is the first indicator of new features to come!  Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 17, 2018

3mail module 2.0

Saturday, March 17, 2018
We've just released oodles of improvements and new features for the 3mail module. For those not familiar, the 3mail module provides a simple shared email system that is available either standalone or within the webclient.  3mail is connected to one or more queues within your LibraryH3lp account. Each queue represents a shared mailbox from which any operator assigned to a queue can receive, view, and send email.

It is a handy place to direct chats that are tagged for followup and can also receive email from places like Ask a Librarian email forms.  Each LibraryH3lp subscription includes unlimited use of 3mail at no additional charge. To get 3mail enabled for your account, visit the 3mail page in the webclient or the standalone 3mail app.

Here's a quick rundown of what's new...


We've added search to 3mail. 3mail search works much like Chat History search but against email metadata instead of chat metadata. By default, both message and subject are searched but you can restrict your search to only subject or body, with or without additional keywords. You can also use the attachment, tag, sender, recipient, and operator keywords to further restrict search and/or search over date ranges.

Download messages

All of the messages for your current search can be downloaded. You can select what message metadata you'd like included in the download. The file downloaded to your computer will be in comma-separated value (CSV) format, so you can use a spreadsheet program like Excel or Google Sheets to further analyze your mail.

Mailbox settings

As part of a mailbox's settings, you can set up a name, signature and auto-reply (a.k.a. vacation).

A mailbox's name is a human-friendly name associated with your mailbox's email address that is visible to email recipients.

If a signature is set for your mailbox, it will automatically be included in the message body of any reply or with forwarded messages.

For auto-replies, you can set a subject and message. If a subject is not provided, the sender's original subject will be used. You can optionally set a start day/time and/or end/time.  When auto-reply is active on a mailbox, you'll be reminded at login time so that auto-replies are not accidentally left active.


The 3mail module now accepts form submissions, allowing you to build a custom form for your web page and submit the data collected from that form to 3mail.

Custom Tag Kung-Fu

Delete, rename, search, and even hide your custom tags.

Notifications to other email addresses

Let's hypothetically say you don't use 3mail super heavily, and you are not in there each and every day.  But you want some correspondence, such as from an email reference form, to go to 3mail rather than being locked in in any single individual's mailbox.  How will you and other staff know when there is a new message waiting in 3mail?

Bring on notifications to external email accounts!  This way, users can receive alerts in their personal (external) email accounts that there is a new 3mail waiting for attention. You can set enable these notifications in your webclient or 3mail preferences.

Other tasty bits and pieces

  • Reply all and forward options now available for all emails.
  • Easily print messages using the printer icon on each message.

Monday, October 23, 2017

New! Chat History Search Kung Fu

Monday, October 23, 2017
Hold on to your hats, we have BIG news!  We're adding search to the Chat History page in both the admin dashboard and the webclient for staffing.  So when you need to locate that chat from two years ago from a patron that texted asking about an obscure poem from the 1950's, we've got you covered.

New "Search chats..." Input

Above the date explorer, we've added a search input where you can search through most chat metadata fields and transcript content (if you've elected to save chat transcripts).  For example and if you wished to search for chat transcripts that contain the word bibliography, you could enter the word bibliography in the search input.

Search phrases are enclosed in quotes: "enumerative bibliography".

Multiple search terms or phrases are separated by spaces and ORed together:

  •  "enumerative bibliography" catalog

And you can restrict your search to specific chat queues, with or without additional keywords:

  • queue:ask-us
  • queue:ask-us bibliography

Use the operator_msg or guest_msg fields to restrict search to only operator messages or guest messages respectively.  So if you wanted to search for all chats with transcripts where an operator used the word bibliography:

  • operator_msg:bibliography

You may be thinking to yourself, that's pretty fancy but how am I supposed to remember these field names three months from now?  Never fear.  That's where advanced search comes in!

Advanced Search

Using advanced search, you can get very specific without needing to remember all the nitty gritty details of keywords.  Advanced search replaces the old filter concept we used to have for metadata columns in the grid.

Chat metadata search keywords come with an extra bonus -- most support wildcards:

  • Use * for partial matches. E.g. Use chat* to find any word that starts with chat.
  • Use ? to replace any single-character. E.g. Use ch?t to match words like chat, chbt, ch4t, etc.
  • Use ! to omit exact matches. E.g. Use !chat to omit results that contain word chat.
  • Use * with ! to omit partial matches. E.g. Use !*chat to omit results with words that end in chat.

Expanded Date Exploration Options

You may have noticed a couple new things going on with dates in the sections above.  We've added an "all dates" option for searching all chats.   We've also added date range shortcuts which make grabbing common date ranges a snap:

  • last 7 days (range:week)
  • this month (range:month)
  • this quarter (range:quarter)
  • this year (range:year)

When you first use the new search feature, the default date range will be set to range:week.  From there and each time you use the Chat History & Activity page, it remembers the last search settings used.

This way, the ranges you set will always be relative to the actual current date.  So if you leave it set to range:day you'll always have the current day's chats when you first load the page.


Last but not least, we've added pagination.  It makes for a much snappier user interface experience, especially when you have lots (138,520 in the screenshot below) of chats.


All of the goodness we added to the download tool this summer remains and will work on your carefully-constructed search.  So you can easily download JUST chats from this year on a specific queue where the guest said "circulation."  Voila.

We hope you'll enjoy search! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tracking Chats Tagged for Followup

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
When chat originates over a queue, you can tag that chat for follow-up -- even if the chat has already ended. Usually a chat is tagged for follow-up because the guest cannot be fully helped immediately and some sort of follow-up action is required.  Most commonly, chats are tagged for follow-up via email. However, LibraryH3lp also offers a DeskTracker integration that works with tag for follow-up.

How do I find out which chats were tagged for email follow-up?

You can see which chats were tagged for email follow-up from the Chat History page in either the dashboard or webclient for staffing with the Tags column.  By default, the Tags column is hidden since not everyone uses the tag for follow-up feature, but it is easy show it using the drop-down menu in any of the column headings.
Click the Columns... item from the Column Settings drop-down menu to access the Metadata Column Settings. Click the checkbox next to Tags and then OK and you're set.  
Any chat tagged for follow-up via email will have a "follow-up" entry in the Tags column as part of its metadata.

How do I tag a chat for follow-up?

In the webclient for staffing, there is a tag for follow-up button that is included with every chat over a queue.
Operators using an external client such as Pidgin or Adium should click on the "chat management link" that displays at the top of each chat and begins, "For transfers, etc..." to tag chats for follow-up.

Still using the old /webchat/ client?

Don't worry, chats tagged using the old, original /webchat/ client will still be tagged as usual and you'll get the expected email with the chat transcript and operator note.  But, chats that are tagged by operators using that legacy /webchat/ client will not be identifiable in the Chat History area as described above.  

If you're still using the legacy /webchat/ client, keep an eye on its login page for news of its long-awaited retirement.  And in case you missed it, the modern webclient now has an option for the familiar individual floating, draggable, resizable chat windows, so it's easier to switch than ever.

Not sure which LibraryH3lp client you're using?  You can look at the URL in your web browser and look for the word "webchat" or "webclient."  And have a look at the login screen:

Not sure which client you're using?  Check the login screen appearance.

Monday, July 10, 2017

More options when downloading chat metadata and transcripts

Monday, July 10, 2017
Hi all!  The updates continue.  This time we've got the Activity page (available in both the admin dashboard and webclient for staffing) in our sights.  There are a few minor aesthetic changes but the big news is that you have more control over your downloads of chat metadata and transcripts.

As before, you can select which chats to download by clicking the checkbox for a chat in the metadata table.  Or if no chats are selected, all chats displayed in the metadata table are downloaded.

We've consolidated the separate download metadata and transcript buttons into a single button that covers it all.  It is the blue button you see above that has a cloud with a down arrow.

Download selected chats button

Click that button to unlock the goodness.

New "Download chats" dialog for metadata and transcripts
Using the Download chats dialog, you can:
  • Download metadata, transcripts, or both.  If you opt for both, you'll get a CSV file with transcripts included.  Otherwise you get a CSV file for metadata only and a ZIP file for transcripts only.
  • Select which metadata columns to include in the CSV file.
  • Optionally scrub the operator name from transcripts.
  • Combine related transcripts when downloading transcripts only.
  • Arrange transcripts in folders by queue or profile when downloading transcripts only.