Book Groups Dashboard

I’ve been discussing with my colleague how automation can improve her productivity. While I went through what we’d need to do to make something happen, I paused and realized that what they needed was a dashboard to manage everything they need to track. Since I had some time set aside for them already, I kicked the planned project down the road to give them extra time to work on it. Then I settled into hacking together a quick book groups dashboard.

Courtesy of Darien Library

The Process
I began by looking up free dashboard templates. After examining a few dozen, I decided that DashGum was the one for my needs (view demo). The main files I edited were the index.html, panels.html, and style.css. My colleagues told me what websites they accessed the most often. For their needs, these are book review websites. I use Sublime as my text editor. The main color scheme of bright green and blue are based upon the colors they like to represent themselves with.

The Layout
My first consideration is that I wanted to personalize this dashboard for each member of the team. So I added their photo, name, and their work area title. The top row in the example are the things this coworker needs to access the most. They are simple links. Each link opens in a new tab so they can keep their dashboard up in one tab (better for their use if not my recommendation). Below that are the book review sites they use the most. This design is not ideal because it’s eating up a lot of space, but it works for now. On the right is for my benefit: a way to keep them on target with submitting publicity items to me. In the sidebar are some less often used links which may be useful for their day to day work. The icons are just what Font Awesome icons the theme comes packaged with. I quickly selected those particular icons.

The two dashboards I made are almost identical. However, one colleague is comfortable with using MailChimp while the other is not. So I removed links which open up MailChimp.

Since this was a quick, hacked together project, it is not perfect. At the moment, the two pages are living on our shared network drive. This allows me to update the pages from afar, but I’m managing two separated index.html files since they’re custom to the needs of each person.

My colleagues also share a Google account between them which they are both logged into in Chrome. So on one person’s computer, I could set the home button to her dashboard. With one account, I could not set the home button to the other to her own dashboard. So I gritted my teeth and made it as a bookmark. She’s happy enough with it right now. Perhaps Chrome profiles could alleviate this issue?


I just used my new dashboard to look up a book I hadn’t heard about-it is fabulous!!! Thank you so much. So easy getting in and out of! So far I am fully enjoying all of its charms!

What’s Next
The layout is not responsive. I work on large monitors, but when I tested on a smaller monitor, the text in the review sites word-wrapped in an ugly way.

They do all their work in an Outlook calendar. It’d be great to provide a link to opening Outlook to that specific place in the software since they have to make several clicks to view it. My current understanding is that I can’t link to their calendar. I tested the waters to see if I could migrate them out of it, but one of them has a strong preference for the software.

It is too bad that Asana does not offer a way to embed task lists elsewhere (by design). Then instead of my manually updated Publicity Deadlines, I could just include my work list there so they could see where I am in working through this month’s book group work.

A Little Attention

I was surprised to see that Techsoup for Libraries mentioned the Global Map of 3D Printing Map. I’ve admired their work for years, so what an honor!

Can’t find the live link on their website, but here it is in Google’s search results.

It should be noted that LITA’s Maker Technologies Interest Group voted a couple years back to give the map to LITA. I’m unsure if the current website they’re working on is ready to highlight the map’s presence, so I’ve linked to its location on my website.

Import Cell Data Into Another Sheet In Google Calendar

I’m not sure if this is the 100% best way to handle this, but it is the method that finally worked for me. I have one Google Sheet which has multiple sheets (tabs). In the overview tab, I want to pull in data from the other sheets which may change. I don’t want to worry about constantly keeping it updated, so I wanted to automatically pull that data in. This is the formula that worked for me:


Step One
Replace in this instance refers to the URL of your spreadsheet. Look to the top and copy everything after, but stop before you get to /edit#. Take that string of characters and put it in the formula instead of the phrase REPLACEME.

Step Two
The 2018 in my formula is actually the name of the sheet that I’m pulling from. Replace 2018 with your tab’s name that you want pull data from. Note: you may need to add underscores if there are spaces.

Step Three
Replace D41 with the cell that you actually want to call in.

If there are better, faster methods (because that first import is slow), leave a comment and share!

Substituting Multiple Strings in Airtable

Thanks to W_Vann_Hall over on the Airtable Forums, I was able to figure out the formula I needed. The task is this:

* In JotForm, people select book covers to indicate which book they like.
* A Zapier zap takes that submission and puts it in my Airtable.
* However, the data appears at a bad URL with added to the front of it. Worthless for our purposes.
* So to change that info, I need to substitute the long junk URL to the name of the book.
* I created a new column and added this formula:

SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE({Name of Column — leave in brackets},’’,’Little Red Riding Hood, ‘),’’,’Three Little Pigs, ‘),’’,’Cinderella, ‘)

* Output: Little Red Riding Hood, Three Little Pigs, Cinderella,
* Note that I added a comma and a space at the end of each item. I’m sure I could try to figure out how to check for any leftover items, so there isn’t an extra comma, but eh.

I’m sure there’s more work to be done and something will break, but I’m grateful to get at least this much figured out.

Under the Weather + Project Help

Since late January I’ve been under the weather. As such, I got an extremely last minute request (order!) from my doctor to forego attending ALA Midwinter. Thanks to the kind efforts of the LITA Board, I was able to attend the Board meetings by phone. My mind and energy has been redirected to the efforts of getting better this past month. Thus why things have things been so quiet around here. With any luck, I hope to be fully back in fighting shape any day now.

Meanwhile, the launch of the previous post’s project has been a roaring success. The Book Matchmaker has been so popular that I’m trying to find a solution to help them better manage it. My vision:

  • Easily tracks the submitter’s stated reading preferences.
  • Quickly show other times we’ve recommended a book to another reader. Thus, hopefully reducing staff time by seeing “oh, we said this book was great for Sci-Fi readers. Would this person appreciate it too?”
  • Help staff with planning out the next books to pull for that reader and when to do so.
  • Dead simple for staff to use.

Currently I’m thinking Airtable looks to be the best bet. Yet I’m not sure I can easily get the new submissions added automatically. I’ve tweeted at Airtable to see if they allow records to be added via email. Asana does which has spoiled me. If you have any further recommendations, let me know!

Re-launch Tomorrow

My lovely colleague took over a big project after one of our Assistant Directors left. She’s been polishing it for months now and tomorrow it goes live! I’m looking forward to discussing the work that went into bringing this service back online.

The most helpful thing for me was her interest and willingness to try her hand at Adobe Illustrator. She’s been working in InDesign for not too long and Illustrator is a whole other beast. By taking on this proactive role in her branding and publicity creation, she’s really owned this work. I’m happy to have helped when she needed me.

Tracking Clicks on Anchor Links

Our FAQ page is made up of tabs with anchor links. I’d love to know if there’s a way to track the clicks. It looks like — shockingly — that there’s isn’t a way. Maybe if I could drag something together with Google Tag Manager. Or fuss around with our analytics code (but I don’t have direct access to that).

If you have any other ideas on how to do this, I’d love to know it.


Brad Czerniak kindly shared with me some code for Google Analytics event tracking for Anchor Links. Thank you, Brad!

Google Campaign URL Builder

I’ve been having trouble with getting my URL campaigns to show up consistently in Google Analytics. Fortunately, after talking over on some forums, they pointed me in the right direction. Though only two fields are required when using the Campaign URL Builder, you’ll want to feel out the first four fields at minimum.


I recommend keeping a spreadsheet to track all your campaign names and to develop consistent naming habits for your source and medium fields. For our end of year fundraising email, I made the mistake of using end_of_year_fundraising and eoy_fundraising as campaign names. If I had used the same term, the results would look nicer in Google Analytics.

For the campaign that worked, I get the campaign name of lnap_2018. When I click on it, then I see all the sources listed. It was helpful in knowing immediately that most people were clicking through to the registration form from the front of the website.

Bitly Integration

I should note that we have a (free!) custom URL through for our URL shortener. I grab a URL, take it to the Campaign URL Builder and add in my elements. Then I copy the generated URL into Bitly to give me a unique URL. Then when I look at my report later, I can see clicks from eblast, social media (should break this down to platform), website, etc.

December 2017 Monthly Report

My new boss has asked that I write out a more descriptive version of what I did in the previous month. Aside from all the usual work (social media, digital signs), I had twenty separate projects in progress. What I liked best about this report is that it prompts me to follow up on the items. A few highlights are below.

I strike a pose on a frozen pond. These don’t exist back home!

Museum Passes

We had a 20.4% increase in museum pass reservations in December vs. November. We sent out a special email highlighting museums in December which may have caused that increase.

Increase in Hoopla

In December 2016, we didn’t send out an email highlighting our digital services. So that was my base number. In December 2017, we did. The difference between 2016’s non-campaign to 2017’s campaign: 45% increase in new users and 25.9% increase in borrows.

I then evaluated this to two previous emails and came up with two lessons: have a holiday email focusing on digital items and use “present” or “gift” in the subject line.

Last Email Unsubscribed From

I was curious as to which email list was driving unsubscribes. We switched to MailChimp in December 2013, so I evaluated data from that point to December 2017. It took awhile, but I was able to sort out the emails into different lists. When I asked MC if I could easily sort by the group the email was sent to, this was not an option. So by hand it went!

New Year’s Eve Playlist

I loved the idea of finding a song to dramatically finish the year with. My colleagues kindly supplied me with several songs. The project took longer to put together than I anticipated, but our weekly events email readers + Twitter had a good time with it.

Seasonal Bookmarks

This year, we set aside money to get 30 bookmarks printed and cut by a professional print shop. We’ve split this into three terms throughout the year. The first round was exhausting to push through with an August 1st due-in-house deadline. With the second round, it went more quickly. However, it wasn’t clear if the digital proofs were accurate or not. Thankfully, the printer sent a paper proof which I was able to sign off on last Friday. Today the two boxes arrived. My colleague was wonderfully helpful in helping me sort the bookmarks and then distribute them throughout the building. Today was the day that we wanted the bookmarks to be in-house. Good timing!

Logo for Midterms Event

My very talented colleague approached me about her redesign of our annual midterms programming. Usually, we stay open an extra hour for 3 days (and again for finals). This year, we’re going to have an after hours event on a Sunday. I was so inspired by the title, The Long Night Against Procrastination, that I wanted to make a custom logo.

Courtesy of Darien Library

I looked up Ikea lanterns to find my favorite version. Then I stabbed at Illustrator until I got the shape right. My colleague approved. The original text was just plain text at an angle. It didn’t fit my vision. So I spent about two days working at it to come up with the above design. It’s not perfect — I’m not confident with Illustrator yet — but it’s 85% of the way towards my vision.

Courtesy of Darien Library

I also rather like the email design that goes along with the logo.