With 3,000 on-campus and 90,000 online students, Jennifer Harris--the SNHU Associate Dean for Library Systems and Emerging Technology--has got her work cut out for her. But, she’s got her ear to the ground. “We love feedback,” she says, as it helps them prioritize the students' needs. Check out how Springshare tools help Jennifer and her staff meet the needs of her students and help the library work better, internally and externally.
LibGuides CMS is used for the majority of the SNHU library website. It’s easy to put together beautifully designed content and pages, get useful statistics, and with LibGuides CMS the librarians have full control of their web presence and content – no waiting for someone else to put up a new event or take down an old page.
Because they have seven Springshare tools, the SNHU library website seamlessly integrates Springshare widgets to showcase the extensive services they provide. Students can easily book study rooms, see library hours, access research guides, ask a question, see upcoming events and more. The LibGuides CMS blogging tool even powers the Library Newsletter. Jennifer says,
The mobile site builder, we use that for a mobile website and if that wasn’t there then it would be a lot more work to get a mobile site set up and it would be something that would take a lot more time and effort. So, having that has allowed us to really quickly, actually, launch a mobile website, which was a big deal.
The SNHU library team has the best problem to have: lots of students and staff asking them heaps of questions. What they have come to understand is, as Jennifer says, "Our users are searching for what they need." This is where the functionality in a knowledgebase really shines. Eager to meet the demands, they committed to building up their FAQs. The popularity of their LibAnswers has grown exponentially.
We started adding LibAnswers FAQs in late 2013 and by 2014, our FAQs had 3,818 views. By 2016, we had 105,222 views. That’s an increase of 2,655%.
Talk about an explosion. In 2017, they had 253,047 views. And, today? Last month, they hit a record with 67,419 views to their FAQs for April 2018, alone. All of these figures are just for their FAQs in the main public knowledgebase and don't even include special groups.
LibAnswers’ Query Spy tool is a huge help – it shows what’s happening in the system in real time, to see what sorts of searches students have been conducting. The librarians then add FAQs to address those so they can be of real help by creating content that is exactly relevant.
Jennifer reports, “We’ve been able to serve people more effectively. Chat service is popular. Our users would not use the chat if it wasn’t working well.”
One of the LibAnswers features is public facing groups. They’re typically used to organize FAQs into topical subsets to help people find what they need. SNHU uses groups to build FAQs that, effectively, serve as webpages. So, when someone clicks the library website tabs, those “pages” are FAQs. Using the FAQs allows them to have the thumbs up/thumbs down feedback option that Jennifer loves. It’s a simple interaction for the students and it provides quick, but impactful feedback so librarians know if their FAQs are on target or missing the mark.
Throughout our chat with Jennifer, she kept using the word “experiment” when discussing different ways in which they were utilizing their Springshare tools. They’re not afraid of jumping in and allowing their imaginations the room to see what’s possible. This has led them to some really innovative uses.
The System Status Management Tool in LibAnswers provides an uncomplicated way to let your users quickly see the current status of all your library systems and services. SNHU has also decided to integrate it with the LibGuides CMS A-Z list, placing icons to indicate, right at the point of need, if a database has an issue like an outage or planned update.
Click the icon and, voila! It takes you to further information about the database status.
Feedback is so important to Jennifer and her team. The Tell Us How We’re Doing page on their library website is a LibWizard survey. This active reaching out helps when you need to serve such a large, diverse population. LibWizard sends an alert when a form has been submitted so Jennifer’s team can view the results right away.
One of the favorite integrations is an internal one that is designed to serve staff. Serving 93,000 students, SNHU’s LibChat is so active and their desks can get so busy at peak times that they created a Librarian Bat Signal. Their reference librarian built a simple LibWizard Reference S.O.S. form, which they’ve embedded in the LibAnswers Admin Alert Box. Jennifer explains that,
We needed some way for them to really quickly call for help because an email takes too long and a phone call also. Basically, as long as they have the dashboard up, with 2 clicks they can get help. It will email all the reference librarians at once and just asks for help.
SNHU has a 300-acre campus in Manchester, New Hampshire but they were also awarded the 21st Century Distance Learning Award for Excellence in Online Technology by the USDLA. That’s a lot of ground to cover.
SNHU has been called “most innovative” a lot recently. Their utilization of their technology to earnestly better the experiences of both their students and their staff is terrific. They’ve excelled at finding unique and simple ways to just be helpful. From their focus on accessibility to the very cool ways they show their team that their needs matter, too -- it’s clear that they care about serving their entire community.