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What are LibChat widgets? Why do I need them?

Chat widgets are what allow patrons to chat with you. Each chat widget can be monitored by an individual staff member or an entire chat department. You can even set up fallbacks; that way, if the first department is offline, LibChat will check the fallback department or staff member to see if they are online. This can help you keep your chat service online longer, since it expands the staffing possibilities. 

How do chat widgets work?

LibChat allows you to create customized chat widgets, which you can place on just about any webpage (including LibGuides) with just a little embed code. Chat widgets have a few different types:

  • In-page chat: these widgets display the chat window entirely inside the page where you embedded them.
  • Button pop-out: these widgets allow users to click on a button, which launches the chat window in a new browser window.
  • Slide-out tab: these widgets hang out on the left, right, or bottom of the browser window; when a user clicks on them, they expand to display the chat window.
  • Floating: these widgets display a button that floats in the bottom-left corner of the browser window. When a user clicks on the button, the widget expands above it.

When you create a widget, you can choose which departments and/or staff members will monitor it. This is important, because it will help determine when a widget appears online.

  • If the assigned department or staff member is online, then the chat widget will appear online and allow users to start chatting.
  • You can also set up fallbacks. This works by setting up tiers of options, so if Option A is offline, LibChat will see if Option B is online; if Option B is offline, then Option C will be checked, and so on.
    • For example, you could create a widget that checks to see if your Reference department is online.
    • If it's not, then you could configure the widget to check if anyone from the Circulation department is online.
    • You could even set up a third fallback option to check if anyone from Special Collections is currently online.
  • If none of the assigned departments are online, then the chat widget will appear offline and direct users to your LibAnswers site (or another URL) to search your FAQs or submit a ticket.

Who can create chat widgets?

Everyone! Any LibAnswers user can create and embed customized chat widgets. Admins have the ability to edit and delete any widget in the system. Regular users, on the other hand, can only edit and delete their own widgets. However, they can copy or embed any widget they'd like. That way, if you have a heavily customized widget, they can simply reuse it instead of starting from scratch.

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