Since LX Starter was first announced in 2022 by Innovative, part of Clarivate, it has been released in waves to Sierra and Polaris ILS libraries. Innovative regularly holds webinars on LX Starter sharing updates on product development, implementation waves, and more about how the product was designed to help libraries with patron communications and relationship management.
In April, Taylor Fisher, LX Starter Product Manager, co-hosted a webinar with Maisam Nouh, Technical Solution Consultant to share the latest updates on LX Starter, which powers modern and professionally designed patron email notices.
As today’s patrons continue to have evolving expectations for modern communications, LX Starter helps libraries create communications that are:
- Appealing, consistent, and connected to membership activity
- Personalized with recommendations
- Easy to understand, and support self-service
LX Starter provides an extension of the ILS to help better both the patron and staff experiences by generating modern, personalized, and designed email notices and communications. As Fisher said, “it really provides all the information needed to help you communicate the right message to the right patrons, and not only physically in person, but now also virtually.”
What is LX Starter?
LX Starter is included with the subscription costs for the Sierra and Polaris ILS. Key features include:
- Patron notices via email: modernizing circulation notices from the ILS.
- Email design tool: intuitive web-based interface empowering librarians to easily design and send exciting notices.
- Email templates: professionally built templates, easy to use, drag-and-drop to edit and customize based on library needs.
- Syndetics cover art: notices can include book-jacket images for a clear indication of the resources being referenced.
- Engagement metrics: see how patrons are interacting with notices and help libraries identify paths towards increased patron engagement.
The first templates released are circulation notices, as those are the most regular touchpoint libraries have with their patrons, “and it’s one of the largest opportunities to not only get their attention, but retain that attention and to engage them further,” said Fisher. Fisher then shared an example of overdue notice emails, comparing the current notices from Polaris and Sierra with ones generated by LX Starter, saying of the latter that “they feel a little bit less like a ransom note and more like a warm invitation to re-engage and click around, and get more information about the library.”
Maisam Nouh, performed a live demo reviewing the easy-to-use templates to create notices, including email title suggestions powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and performances statistics.
LX Starter has been available for implementation since September 2022, and is now available for all single-system, international libraries installed on the latest Polaris or Sierra releases (as appropriate). Implementation is managed in cohorts and is a fully supported and quick process.
The last half hour of the webinar was dedicated to answering questions from attendees, and addressed a number of topics, including:
- If we don’t have Vega LX can we still use LX starter? Yes. LX Starter is an extension of your ILS; Polaris and Sierra. If you have Vega Discover, you can also incorporate showcases and promote additional library content in your notices and communications.
- Is there an additional cost for LX Starter? No. All Polaris and Sierra libraries are eligible for LX Starter when upgrading to the latest release at no additional cost. Syndetics Unbound is also included in the LX Starter package.
- Can the overdue, hold pickup, and courtesy email notices all be sent automatically on a schedule? Yes. Notices that are queued in the ILS will be sent to LX Starter, which has an independent schedule that can be set up to best fit the needs of your patrons. For example, holds (pickup) check may happen in the ILS at 6am, but the LX Starter schedule can ensure those emails are only sent out at 9am, during working hours.
- Will notices still run the same way through our ILS? Libraries can continue to run other notices via their ILS, but we recommend transitioning all available notices to LX Starter to give patrons a consistent experience with the library.
- Does LX Starter include telephone and SMS? No. At this time, we support only email notices, though Innovative has plans for expanding to additional services as well.
- Does LX Starter use the ILS user/admin control or does it have its own authentication and permissions? LX Starter currently operates a separate authentication system, but there are plans to integrate and create a single sign on (SSO) experience.
- Can third party content such as upcoming events from an online calendar service be integrated into messages? We are investigating integrations with Vega Program and other third-party event management tools. For now, we recommend using the LX Starter easy designer to include event information in the body of the emails.
- How does LX Starter handle large volumes of emails and prevent them being marked as spam? We have created a process to assist libraries in setting up domain verification, which helps prevent emails from being flagged as spam despite the increase in volume of outgoing emails.
- What happens if the email is bounced back? We have created a number of methods to handle email bounce-backs, starting with metrics to display data on email addresses that have bounced. For bounce-backs due to minor errors (soft bounce), such as typos in the email address, corrections performed in LX Starter are then sent back to the ILS patron record for future reference. Further, when an email is bounced, a notification is sent to the ILS to be logged there and trigger the ILS to respond as your library has set up bounce-back handling, such as to resend the email.
- Can the From email address be specified by the library? Yes. Libraries can set up multiple, friendly From names and email addresses, which will need to go through a verification process to ensure that emails can be sent from this address. If you choose to go through domain verification (external to LX Starter), additional emails can be added as well.
- How can I register for LX Starter? Simply go to our LX Starter Registration Form and let us know you are interested. Our team will confirm your status, including running the latest ILS release, and reach out to schedule your library implementation in an upcoming cohort.