Google Sharing Aggregated Library Events From Third Parties

Last week I discovered today that Google’s right side panel is displaying a list of events for my library (search “library name”).

When clicked upon, it takes you to a new page listing more events. Highlighted below that is a map and a link to whatever source site Google is pulling from.

In my research, most of the source sites are aggregator sites that scraped our events calendar. Some sites link back to the original post, others do not. This could potentially cause some headaches with our registered events which require you to sign up through the website.

I talked with some other library web people. For my site at least, the scrapers appear to be drawing the data through our iCal feeds. I’ve asked our system admin if we can edit the iCal feed (and only it) to include text about “To register, visit our website at….” The links embedded within our event descriptions seem to work on some scraper sites.

Library On-Boarding Plan

There was a post in a library group for advice on what to include in staff on-boarding documentation. Since I got carried away, I thought I’d share it here as well. My five years as a UX librarian influences how I view these topics, so your mileage may vary.

Point of View from a Marketing/Communications POV:

1) How we present ourselves to the community with hospitality (our library’s favorite term)? That is, making eye contact, greeting people, etc.

2) How we talk about the Library and its mission. What do we strive to do? What do we value? How do we do work towards our goals?

3) Never badmouth anything in the building (AKA “Oh, yeah. That computer is always acting up….”)

4) How to communicate in various formats. e.g. do we all sign our emails answered from a desk email? Or is it just “Reference Desk”? (I’m a fan of putting at least your first name)

5) Let’s look at signage. What signs are appropriate, where can you find signs, how do we adhere to our branding?

6) What do you do when you see something that is off? e.g. broken sign holder

7) Here’s all the ways we communicate with our patrons. People can sign up in these ways (or at least, they need to be able to find the information).

8) Let’s go over the website. This is an important portal for how people get to know the library. You need to explore it, use it, and get familiar with how it works. Don’t hide in the ILS since patrons don’t have that same access.

9) Are there any words we don’t use or don’t fit our communications? e.g. we try to avoid saying free since donations paid for everything

10) If you have marketing ideas, send them to the marketing person. We’re always ready to hear a fresh perspective, learn about a new audience, or any cool giveaways you saw somewhere else that really wowed you.

Other things I’d include in a general sense:

The building’s appearance is the responsibility of everyone. If you see some trash on the ground, pick it up. If you see a mess in the bathroom, report it.

We don’t expect you to know everything that’s going on in the building, but you need to know how to look it up.

Try to avoid sending patrons running about the building. This goes with the above. For e.g. if wireless printing is on the second floor, don’t send patrons to the lower level.

Here’s a list of which department is responsible for what. This really isn’t patron-facing, but you should know that the STEM lab is managed by the children’s department, not reference.

In your onboarding book/intranet, it doesn’t hurt to have a list of staff and what they’re responsible for. This can be general (since we’ve all got a million hats on), but it’d be nice for staff to know who runs social media or who to see about email problems. This is especially true if you have more cutesy titles which aren’t obvious as to what they mean.

Details about who to see about getting their email setup, their name badge, their schedule, etc. This should be routine, but there are so many details that they can get lost.

List of jargon used. Include both library specific (ILL, ILS, periodicals) as well as your organization specific (e.g. our reference department is not called that!).

Map or detailed tour of the building.

What are the safety protocols? Can anyone grab a fire extinguisher if needed? Where do you keep the wet floor signs?

Here’s how we usually handle bad weather at this library (be honest if you tend to close or you hold out to the bitter end).

This is how we handle alarming patron interactions.

If you’re hiring non-librarians (or people who’ve never worked in a library before), you should have a plan in place to TRULY educate them on your values. It’s one thing to say, “Oh, we protect patron privacy,” but you need to explain why it matters. Why is this so important to our profession? Why should you deeply care and honor that trust? What do you mean by diversity, inclusion, non-political?

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.