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

Friday, January 20, 2012

Guess what? We're four years old today!

Today is LibraryH3lp's birthday! We don't typically spend much time on this blog talking about ourselves, but this feels like a good time to do just that. We also have one favor to ask of you (think of it is a birthday wish), but that can wait until the very end of this post.

Four years ago today, we issued a call for testers and described our basic goals regarding features. A year later, we announced that the system was self-sufficient, in that it was making enough money to cover basic hosting costs, although programming time was mostly still donated by Eric. Eric was still doing a lot of separate contract programming in those days, with LibraryH3lp as an interesting side project.

Four years later, we're still going strong and still growing. At this point, the care and feeding of LibraryH3lp involves full-time work by three people. It is Eric's main project now. Amy Shelton, programmer and support guru extraordinaire, joined up full-time in May 2011. Pam left her full-time librarian job at UNC-Chapel Hill at the end of December, 2011, in order to focus more fully on LibraryH3lp.

Today, over 300 universities and colleges, public libraries, special libraries, and various combinations thereof pay for subscriptions (thank you!). The state-wide NCknows service migrated fully onto LibraryH3lp, including backup staff, in the summer of 2011. We have servers in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia. System architecture has been revised to support heavy usage and growth capacity.

The code is being continually improved. While the whole system is not open source, we have released parts of the system as 10 different open source projects and contributed to over a dozen more. We plan to talk more about our open source work later.

In October 2011, one of our busiest months, there were 67,958 chats of at least 30 seconds duration on the US server. In the last 24 hours, we processed about 25.5 million presence requests from over 200,000 unique IP addresses; a presence request happens each time someone loads a web page with a LibraryH3lp widget or presence badge. Those numbers (presence requests from unique IPs) are a good indication that people are out there using your library websites very heavily, even on a cold day in January. Also in the last 24 hours, there were about a quarter million messages (individual lines of chat) sent back and forth.

What is the secret to our success? Our loyal customers! We know there are several choices for virtual reference chat out there. So we sincerely appreciate the business of each of our customers. On this fourth birthday, we'd like to thank each of our customers for making LibraryH3lp a success and for trusting us to provide the infrastructure for your library's service.

Now about that one birthday wish. We have never published a list of customers on our website, because that seems like a kind of rude thing to do without permission, even though it's done all the time in the technology field. Instead we have usually referred those who ask to the Library Success Wiki. However, we'd really love to put a Wordle composed of current LibraryH3lp libraries on our web site. People really do ask, and we think it would look nifty.

If you'd like to add your library to our Wordle, please either comment here, tweet us, or shoot us an email at

Thanks, everyone!

Eric, Pam, and Amy


cg said...

happy birthday! and thanks for 4 years of a great product & truly amazing support! Indiana University Libraries would be happy to be part of your wordle. :)

Amanda said...

4 yeas is great! Congratulations!
-Columbia University Libraries

Anne Haines said...

Hooray - happy birthday! Indiana University-Bloomington Libraries would love to be part of your Wordle. :)

Donna Witek said...

Congrats on four years--looking forward to the next four and beyond! Definitely include us in your Wordle (and post to the blog when the Wordle is done so I can go take a peek :) )
--Donna (Mazziotti) Witek, The University of Scranton, Scranton, PA

Lynn said...

You can add Seattle University!

Michael said...

So exciting. I hope it was a fabulous day.
Harold B. Lee Libraru

LCC said...

Happy Birthday! Yes, please add Lansing Community College Library to your Wordle.

Business Library said...

Congratulations and Happy Birthday! Please include the University of Calgary as well.

AU Library said...

Congratulations you all. Please feel free to add American University Library to your list of customers. We're happy to be here!

Chad said...

Congrats! And you can of course add UNC to the list.

Josh said...

Happy birthday! Yes, please include NCSU Libraries in your wordle.

Matt Marsteller said...

Sure! Happy birthday! - Carnegie Mellon University

Clare Withers said...

Belated wishes for many happy and innovative years ahead! Congrats to you and a big bouquet of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

University of Pittsburgh would love to be a part of your wordle!

Pam Sessoms said...

THANKS everyone! Y'all are great.

Our Wordle, let us show you it:

Molly said...

Congrats on four years--looking forward to the next four and beyond!
GHD Rettetang