Gianna Gifford, Chief of Adult Library Services at Boston Public Library has been working with us since since 2012.
Learning about the particulars behind being a part of the BPL team has been a real eye-opener for us - we learned so much from Gianna.
The BPL is the oldest public library in this country, with vast historical collections, art and architecture, showcasing and preserving Boston’s history. At the same time, the BPL is very much a modern, thriving, urban public library system, extending services, resources, programs, outreach, workforce development, literacy and civic engagement out into Boston’s neighborhoods and beyond. My fun comes from working on the many new initiatives we are rolling out, engaging both the staff and the public. The work we do changes people’s lives and that is really powerful. The challenges range from reporting to the City with its complicated bureaucracy, to being an institution with two different staff unions, to funding stresses, and needing to drastically change the staff culture, etc.
In our conversations with Gianna we sense a true love of the community the BPL serves and witness inspiring commitment to keep improving services for their patrons.
Gianna was familiar with LibGuides because of her previous job at an academic library which used our platform. Upon starting at BPL, Gianna said, "I noticed they had no online reference guides or teaching materials so I made it my mission to bring Springshare to the BPL."
LibGuides CMS helps BPL with a number of projects:
We needed to educate the branch librarians about databases and other research resources and LibGuides was a perfect tool for doing that. New staff, floating librarians, branch staff AND the public could all benefit from LibGuides since our collections are so vast here that no one can really know everything.
The BPL wanted to stop directing patrons to particular branches, desks or librarians to ask a question. LibGuides helped organize information that's available to all staff.
...any reference librarian could/should be able to use one of the business LibGuides to help a patron, or one of the music LibGuides, etc.
Finally, LibGuides also helps BPL better serve their online-only patrons:
We were really not serving our online patrons at all – people who never actually came into the library – so the LibGuides were a perfect way to improve service to people who don’t visit in person.
BPL is our largest LibStaffer installation and their feedback has been instrumental in shaping the tool. They acquired LibStaffer, designed to help you master the art of staff scheduling, in 2016 to take on the challenge for scheduling staff at 24 branch locations. Gianna commented,
We were looking for one central scheduling system to replace an outdated system we had that most departments were not using, and was not web or mobile accessible. We have 24 branches and multiple public service departments in the Central Library that juggle reference desk, information desk, and circulation desk schedules. Some departments were still using paper schedules pinned to bulletin boards.
Others were using random free web calendars that no other department could access. As a manager, there was no place where I could look to see if a certain staff person was in or out on a given day, or where in the building he/she was at a given time. Now, at least, most public service departments are using LibStaffer and it’s great.
LibStaffer has had a lot of exciting updates recently, including
We've also just announced Workflow Forms that can help with the hiring process, and any internal staff workflows which could be moved to online forms.
One of the things Public libraries do best is providing excellent, relevant programming for the varied ages and interests of the patrons they serve. The Boston Public Library is not only the oldest public library in America it also happens to be in one of the most unique cities. It is -- all at once a historic city that is also home to the first subway system, and oldest public park -- and yet it is a very young city in that the median age is 31. The BPL aims to educate, entertain and support this city and they needed a way to make sure they kept their events organized. Gianna said they are using a LibCal calendar
...as an internal calendar to coordinate all of the programs for adults that we plan across several departments. This is one way to stop overbooking evenings with multiple programs that then tend to cannibalize audiences and wreak havoc on our AV staff.
The BPL has a lot of projects in the works as they strive to create an exceptional library experience. They are currently hoping to roll out LibAnswers with LibChat, in the near future. Gianna added The LibAnswers Platform to their Springshare tools in the Summer 2018 because,
The email reference that we use now is outdated and non-interactive.
LibAnswers answers users' questions via LibChat, SMS, Email, Twitter, Facebook and provides a self-service FAQ portal to help patrons wherever and whenever. It also features Social Media Engagement and a Systems & Services Management area.
Gianna and the team have also been working with LibInsight, our big data tool, since 2017. It's designed to handle all of your historical, current and future data so that you can examine possible correlations and make data-driven decisions. She said,
We are working on setting up LibInsight now to track our database use. Right now it’s a manual process of me contacting vendors, getting stats from each individual vendor, and then putting them into a spreadsheet so that my colleague in Collection Development can calculate the cost of searches, etc. before paying the yearly renewal invoice. I am very excited that LibInsight could do a lot of this work for us once we get it set up.
When discussing how using Springshare tools is making a difference in the way they provide services and how they provide them, Gianna responded by saying, they absolutely make a difference.
We have a much richer array of research tools and resources on our website now thanks to LibGuides.
It's easy to make LibGuides in response to real needs. Gianna told us,
We built a guide to address resources for homeless patrons as well as one for families dealing with addiction & recovery.
...we use LibGuides for internal staff training – one example is for everyone who provides telephone reference assistance we have a staff LibGuide with links to FAQs, policies, info about copyright, etc.
Finally, regarding their Springshare tools in total, she sums it up by saying,
LibStaffer has made public desk schedules much more transparent and easy to update. I am super excited to see the power of LibAnswers and starting to offer chat FINALLY! And I am also jazzed about the help that LibInsight will offer as far as tracking our data. YAY.
I really liked the platform when I worked at my last job (academic library) and thought it could really update and streamline so many things here at the BPL. From addressing public service needs, to staff training issues, to collecting and analyzing data, the Apps are dramatically improving our lives here at the BPL.
The Springy team is always incredibly responsive and wonderful when I ask for help with training, adapting certain features (in LibStaffer, for example), etc. I am such a fan of your company and your staff. -- Gianna Gifford