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LibraryH3lp Blog

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

Friday, July 31, 2020

Contactless Assistance Ideas for Re-opening

Friday, July 31, 2020
Are you and your colleagues brainstorming ideas on how to help guests while maintaining social distancing when your building re-opens?  LibraryH3lp can help with that! On the heels of curbside service initiatives, we've heard from lots of customers interested using in LibraryH3lp for contactless assistance within the building.  Here's what we've seen others do...

Leverage on-site public access computers

If you provide on-site public access computers or loan out laptops or similar devices, you can leverage them for contactless communication with your staff.

Draw Attention to Contactless Assistance with the Desktop Wallpaper
  • Advertise texting and/or regular phone numbers.
  • Advertise chat options. 
  • Draw the eye to a desktop shortcut that launches your chat service.
  • Try to place the shortcut someplace where the user is least likely to cover it up once they have  applications such as the web browser running on the computer.

Example desktop screenshot showing wallpaper for a library with contact information and a special chat shortcut.

Desktop Shortcuts that Launch a Browser

Detail of wallpaper and desktop shortcut to chat box

OK, so what web page do you send guest to with a desktop shortcut?  So many possibilities...

If you'd like to keep it simple, make a shortcut that launches your chat box directly, using a simple chat box URL, with or without an offline contact overlay.

If you happen to use Chrome on your public computers, you can make a special shortcut for Chrome that adds additional variables onto the shortcut's target and opens the chat box in a small window in a specific area of the screen.  If the guest has previously launched Chrome and activates the shortcut, Chrome will open the chat box the regular Chrome workspace as a new tab.  

Some places opt to create a dedicated web page for use from in-building computers, and they use this dedicated page as the default home page for web browsers on the public computers.  These special pages can feature contact information including the chat service.

Advertise QR Codes that Guests Scan on their Phones

Guests can chat with staff using their phones as as they wander around the building. No need for a desktop or laptop computer! Guests either text their question (if you have the LibraryH3lp SMS add-on module) or use the mobile-friendly LibraryH3lp chat box which doesn't require the SMS add-on module at all.

Now for the sprinkles on top! Make it super easy for guests to chat by providing a QR code that either launches the guest's texting app or links them to your your mobile-friendly chat box URL.  You'll want to print and post the QR code in strategic spots around the building. You can even include the QR code on computer desktop wallpaper as described above.

Example QR code for the
LibraryH3lp tech support chat box
Mobile-friendly chat box for phones

Something else?

If you have other ideas for including LibraryH3lp in your contactless workflow but aren't sure how to tackle, please contact LibraryH3lp has a flexible API and chances are that we can help make your vision a reality.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Curbside Pick-up and LibraryH3lp

Monday, May 11, 2020
Looking to add a curbside pick-up service? LibraryH3lp can help!  Here's how. 

Organizing Librarians

A good place to start for coordinating curbside pick-up at your library is to create a dedicated queue staffed by those folks dedicated to handling curbside pick-up. And if curbside pick-up chats should find their way into a different queue (via web or texting), operators can transfer those patrons to the operators staffing the dedicated curbside pick-up queue.

Giving each curbside pickup staff member a LibraryH3lp user account lets them chat with each other privately in LibraryH3lp for coordination of activities. And you can also create a conference room dedicated to curbside pickup for internal coordination; conference rooms provide an internal group chat area for staff.

Queues and user accounts are unlimited for both subscriptions and trials. Create as many queues and users as you'd like whenever you'd like.

Getting the Word Out to Patrons

If there's a page on your website dedicated to curbside pickup, then you'll want to create a new chat snippet that is attached to the dedicated curbside pickup queue and place its embed code on that page so that patrons can chat directly with curbside pickup folks. Just like queues and users, chat snippets are unlimited so you can create as many as you'd like and put them on as many web pages as you'd like.

If you'd like to advertise someplace you can't use a chat snippet, no worries! Chat boxes have direct URLs which you can share as links, and there is even a way to include email contact when chat is offline. This works great in emails, social media, and places where you're limited on what you can put on a web page.  


Consider adding and advertising a dedicated texting number just for curbside pick-up. Texts that patrons send to the curbside pick-up number could then go directly to your curbside pick-up staff. Text messages are handled in the same, familiar chat interface that staff use to answer web chats and come with some extra identifiers.

To initiate an OUTBOUND text message to a patron, such as to let them know their items are ready, you can do that using our 3mail module.  It is easy -- there is a "send SMS" button and the staff member enters the patron's phone number and composes their message.  If the patron responds, the rest of the conversation picks up through chat like usual.

And if you haven't tried the SMS add-on module yet for texting, we offer a no-risk trial. Contact support via email to get started today. If you opt to purchase the add-on after your texting trial, packages are inexpensive and start at just $50.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Major Update to Sharing Tool: Screencasts & Slideshows

Sunday, June 9, 2019

We've released a major update to the Sharing Tool which includes a completely new way to share! Originally, you could send screenshots to the guest, and invite the guest to share their screen with you. Those original features remain (with a few neat upgrades), but now, you can also record your own screen to create silent screencasts which can then be transformed into simple, annotated slideshows.

Plus all of this sharing goodness is available within AND outside the context of a chat. If you use the LibraryH3lp 3mail module, you'll find that we've integrated snapshots so you can use the drawing tools to annotate images you’d like to insert into email drafts. And beyond LibraryH3lp, you can use snapshots, screencasts, and slideshows as standalone tools in your daily workflow for doing things like creating content for documentation, tutorials, and guides.

The technical requirements remain the same: You do not need to download or install anything and neither does your guest during a chat. Everything runs in the web browser, no extensions, downloads, plugins, or non-standard settings needed.

Before we dive in and instead of sticking this at the end of our post because it is important to us, we'd like to ask that you let us know what you think after giving things a whirl? We'd love to hear any suggestions you might have for improvement.

Now without further ado, here's a video overview of the updates and additional details are below.

Screencasts and Slideshows Overview

Screencasts are silent recordings of your own screen.  You can save and share the raw recording as a webm video. Or you can create and share a simple slideshow by selecting and optionally annotating frames from your recording to further emphasize the steps you're illustrating. Slideshows are saved as animated GIFs.

One potential issue you'll run into with screencasts is that support for webm, although pretty good across devices, is not universal. On the other hand, slideshows WILL work everywhere and on ANY device, regardless of its ability to play various kinds of true movie files.

Creating a Screencast

You can create a silent screencast during a chat or via direct link (by regional server):

To begin, you’ll start recording your screen. Your web browser will prompt you about what you want to “share” with the recording tool. If you are working within a chat, you probably want to avoid including the webclient’s screen, so you might want to only capture an individual browser tab.

Screencast screen prior to starting your recording
Then, you move through the steps you want to illustrate, and return to the sharing tool to stop your recording. You’ll have a movie player built in, and you can watch what you've captured and send it to the guest, save it to a local file, etc... This will generate a webm file, which many devices will play.

Screencast screen after recording is finished and showing built-in movie player

Creating a Slideshow from Your Screencast

Click the “Create Slideshow” button after you've recorded your screencast to begin selecting individual frames from your movie to compose a slideshow.

In the slideshow editor, there's a green slider along the track that you can use to navigate through frames.  Once you've found a frame you'd like to capture as a slide, click the "Add Slide" button. Slides can be annotated with editing tools (just like snapshots).

Slideshow editor with one annotated slide

You can do things like select nearly the same frame twice, and annotate the second one, in order to help draw the eye to the desired content.

After you've created all the slides you want, you are ready to send your slideshow to the guest, save it to a local file, etc... This will generate an animated GIF file.

There are a few settings you twiddle before saving your slideshow:
  • The time (in seconds) each slide will be displayed before moving to the next slide.
  • The color quality for the GIF. Lower quality renders the GIF file more quickly, but color conversions may not always be true. 
  • By default, a replay slide is included at the end of a slideshow. Since this is an animated GIF file, no movie player is required on the part of the viewer. If you’re sending one of these during a chat, the guest will view it in its own tab, and this replay slide at the end will help them understand that they can reload that tab to watch your slideshow again. However, if you are creating an animated GIF for use in elsewhere such as in a tutorial, you may not want that replay slide included.

Screencasting Limitations

We would love to tell you that screensharing, screencasts, and slideshows work in any web browser. But we simply cannot do that yet reliably given the current state of web browser technology.

Right now, you have to use Chrome 72+ or Firefox.

Edge should work once it becomes Chromium-compatible.

Safari might eventually work. Someday.

And sorry but Internet Explorer 11 will never work. As Dr. McCoy would say, "He's dead, Jim."

But there is a bit of good news!  Snapshots WILL work in any browser, including Internet Explorer 11.  And speaking of snapshots...

Updates to Snapshots

The functionality of snapshots remains largely unchanged, though there has been a little bit of reorganization.  Here's a rundown of new features:

  • Resize snapshots in pixels or by percentage.
  • The drawing tools are now located on the right side of the window and auto-collapse to give maximum screen real estate to the image being edited. But you can expand them if needed.
  • Two new color choices for drawing tools: blue and green

Snapshot editor with drawing tools collapsed

Snapshots now have a direct link (by regional server) which you can use outside the context of a chat or 3mail:

Updates to Categories and 3mail

Sunday, June 9, 2019
We've just released a number of improvements for chat category management and one for 3mail.  Here's the rundown:


  • We've added a category selector to advanced search in Chat History so you can easily see and select any and all of your chat categories.
  • Nested categories can now be easily searched in Chat History.
  • Fixed bug in moving categories with nested children within the hierarchy. Now the category and its children move as a unit.


  • Multiple attachments can be added to drafts simultaneously instead of one at a time.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Updates to categories and 3mail

Saturday, April 27, 2019
Hi all!  Just a couple quick updates we wanted to let you know about...

Nested categories

Recently, we introduced a new feature called categories which allows you to tag your chats with topical categories for all kinds of meta-analysis.  We've expanded the notion of categories to optionally include hierarchy.  You can nest your categories within other categories to build structure into your meta-analysis and/or to help organize categories when multiple departments might share the same account.

Nesting "printing" under an existing "info-commons" category.

Showing all tags that start with "info-commons*" using the asterisk * wild card.

Inline images in 3mail

We've also added a new feature to 3mail -- sending inline images.  Previously, you could include images in emails as attachments, but now you can also elect to include an image in the body of your email message.  You can use the image button in the 3mail editor, Ctrl-v, or drag and drop to insert an image.

Inline image screenshot in 3mail

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Categorize Your Chats

Sunday, March 31, 2019
LibraryH3lp has offered tag for follow-up pretty much since the beginning. But now we've expanded the notion of tagging chats beyond follow-up by introducing categories. Yes! Now, you can tag your your chats with topical categories for all kinds of meta-analysis. Here is the basic lay of the land:

  • Nothing looks much different until at least one category exists in your account.  Before there are any custom categories defined, tagging chats for later follow-up will continue to function as usual.  
  • Administrators can create categories with which operators can tag chats.  
  • Administrators can set things up so that operators are reminded to categorize the chats when they close the chat in the webclient.
  • When at least one category exists, operators can tag chats with the available category or categories in addition to the usual "Tag for Follow-up."

We plan to roll out this new feature to all servers in the next week or two.  As as 10 April 2019, categories are only available on our Canada, Europe, and Singapore regional servers.  As of 27 April 2019, categories are available on all servers.

Setting up and managing categories (administrators only)

Administrators can create, edit, and delete categories in the dashboard, Chat History page, or in the webclient for staffing.  The management functions appear in the "Manage Categories" in the tagging dialog.

Administrators can also enable a reminder to all operators to tag chats when the operator ends the chat in the webclient.
Managing Categories as an administrator
Update 27 April 2019: Categories also support hierarchies so you can nest a category under another category.  Read our more recent blog post for details.

Tagging chats with categories (any operator)

Once an account admin has created at least one category, operators can categorize chats anywhere they have been able to use the original tag for follow-up option.  This means categories are available for operators to use in:
  1. the webclient for staffing in active chats;
    Tag chat in webclient for staffing
  2. the webclient or dashboard, in the Chat History area;
    Tag individual chat in bottom pane of Chat History
  3. the chat management page used by those folks staff in a separate software client like Pidgin or Adium.
    Tag chat in chat management page (for folks not using webclient for staffing)
When any of those "tag chat" buttons are used and if there are categories defined, operators will get a chance to tag the chat with one or more categories, plus follow-up if desired.
Tagging a chat with categories

Show me my tags

The tags for each chat will show up in the Tags column of the Chat History table. If the Tags column is hidden (which was the old default since not everyone uses tag for follow-up) and any of the chats displayed in the table have tags, you'll be asked if you'd like to reveal the Tags column in the table.

Chats tagged with categories in Chat History table

Search by tags

Tags and categories are incorporated into our powerful Chat History search interface.  You can use the Advanced search form to create your search, or you can use the simple field labels and type the search out, power searcher style.

Searching over the last week for chats tagged with either "access" or "research".

Here are some examples:

range:week tag:follow-up
Find chats over the last week tagged "follow-up".

tag:(follow-up,access) range:year
Find chats over the last year tagged either follow-up or access.

And you can combine other fields, use wildcards where supported, and use negation.

tag:*a* queue:*lib* from:2019-02-11 to:2019-03-31 queue:!*arch* operator:ref*
Find chats over that date range where there is a tag including the letter "a" by operators where the username starts with "ref" on queues including "lib" anywhere in the name, but excluding queues with "arch" anywhere in the name.

Note: tags are case-sensitive for searching.  

Categorizing in bulk! 

Additionally, Chat History has a new, special button above the table for tagging multiple selected chats simultaneously.  For example, you might use transcript keyword search to locate a group of chats and then tag them all at once.

Tag chats button in Chat History
The bulk tagging dialog is a bit fancier if multiple chats are getting tagged because in such situations users will need to specify which tags are to be added to the selected chats and which tags should be removed from the selected chats (if a selected chat happens to have that tag).

Tagging multiple chats at a time in Chat History


Give categories and tagging a whirl and let us know what you think?  We'd love to hear feedback, including any specific ideas you have for improvement!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Updates to Chat History and 3mail (now with Message Templates!)

Saturday, March 30, 2019
Here's the rundown of the latest round of improvements now live on all LibraryH3lp regions.

Chat History

Improved sorting: When you sort the table by multiple columns, the sort order of each column is included in the header as a parenthetical number.  Sorting precedence starts at 1 and goes up from there for each additional sorted column.  Click the parenthetical number to change the sorting precedence.

Chat History sorted by Operator, then Duration

Resetting Searches: You can slice and dice chat searches every which way.  When you're done exercising those keen ninja search skills, there's a reset button available to get you back to the default view of the latest week's worth of chats.  Previously, this button cleared out search completely, which meant you would see all chats for all time which, in retrospect, was a bit much.

Search reset button circled in red

Refreshing the table:  To see any new chats started since the Chat History page was loaded in your browser, there's a refresh button just above the table.  We fixed a bug that sometimes created an unnecessary next page of results. 

Tag column: Did you know there was a Tags column available in the table?  It is hidden by default since not everyone uses Tag for Follow-up.  But if you and your colleagues do use Tag for Follow-up and if the Tags column is visible, then you'll see "follow-up" for any chat shown in the table that were tagged for follow-up.  We've added a reminder to the Chat History page that asks if you'd like to reveal the Tags column when it detects there are chats tagged for follow-up and the Tags column is hidden.


NEW! Message Templates: Store commonly used bits of text as templates on a mailbox within the mailbox settings.  These message templates can easily be inserted into an email draft to save you some (possibly lots!) of typing.

Auto-responder (vacation): Fixed bug which made editing your auto-responder reply vexing.

Bulk Move/Spam/Tag/Trash actions: Fixed bug where the email listing could get out of sync when some actions were performed on all emails shown.

CC Recipients: If present, the cc recipients for an email will be shown when viewing an email.  Previously, you had to click the info icon for an email to see any cc recipients.

Mailbox Reply-To: A custom reply-to email address for your mailbox can be added in the Queues Management page of the admin dashboard.  A reply-to address should be an established, institutional email address that forwards its email to 3mail.

Double-check emails to self: If you try to send an email to your 3mail mailbox from your 3mail mailbox, you'll see a prompt that lets you know this is the case, just in case emailing yourself wasn't your actual intent.