Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Helping Ask Here PA patrons

Pennsylvania has a statewide live chat reference service called Ask Here PA. Similar to Answerland, Pennsylvanians can enter via a partner library site or via the statewide portal (www.askherepa.org). They also have both public and academic accounts in QuestionPoint – so any of us who staff Answerland chat may encounter Ask Here PA patrons.

Here are some tips for working with Ask Here PA patrons:

  • If the patron has entered chat via the statewide portal, the patron’s library will appear as either “Ask Here PA Academic” or “Ask Here PA Public.” It may be useful to ask the patron to indicate which library they use in order to direct them to specific resources. You can use the Group Member Policies drop-down menu on the policy page to locate policy pages of partner libraries (the same way you can do with Answerland libraries; see screenshot on page 8 of this document).
  • Pennsylvania has statewide databases available to all residents, called POWER Library e-resources. Patrons must either access the resources from a participating library, or have a public library card to access remotely. If a patron claims not to have a public library card, they can sign up for a temporary eCard (this link is available on the policy pages).
  • Ask Here PA has provided Cooperative access to their POWER Library e-resources. When you click on the “POWER Library Databases” link in the policy pages, you will be taken to a screen with instructions – click on the POWER Library icon at the bottom of the screen to access.
  • Pennsylvania has a statewide catalog called Access Pennsylvania. Patrons cannot use the temporary eCard mentioned above to borrow print materials. If they want to borrow print materials but do not know their local public library, then ask for the patron’s zip code – or name of the city or county in which they live – and mark it ‘Followup by Patron’s Library.’ The Ask Here PA librarians can use that information to assist the patron.
  • If you want to take a look at their policy pages outside of chat, click on “Search Policy Pages” in the left menu (near the bottom) and do a search for “ask here pa”.
Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: IM and Transfer Best Practices

A reminder from the QuestionPoint Cooperative Coordinator:

“Always ask for (and receive!) confirmation via IM before transferring to an individual librarian. Otherwise, it is a ‘blind transfer’ and the librarian might not really be present (leaving the patron hanging with no response), or might be ending a shift and is unable to assist another patron.

“Librarians with the ‘Ask Administrator’ account privilege have an additional tab on the Chat Monitor: the ‘All’ tab. This tab gives the administrative librarian the ability to view and enter live chat sessions that originated from their institution. This feature serves as a useful method of training new librarians on chat, but it can be disconcerting if a local librarian jumps into a Cooperative librarian’s session and starts chatting with the patron. Per Cooperative Policy 5.4, the administrative local librarian should send an IM and request a transfer through the normal process before sending any chat to the patron.

“But what should a chatting librarian do if a local librarian doesn’t follow Cooperative Policy 5.4 and jumps into the chat session without warning? The chatting librarian should transfer the session to the local librarian. Doing so will allow the chatting librarian to leave the session so the local librarian can continue the session with the patron. The first chatting librarian should never end the session, because that will terminate the chat for both the patron and the local librarian.”

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Summer schedules

I don’t know about you, but today’s warm weather has me thinking of summer.

LIAISONS: If your library is going to be closed for upcoming holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day) and/or summer break, please remember to give notification.

  • Full Partner Libraries: Use Humanity to Request Leave (instructions on page 9 of this document). When you do so, all of your library’s chat shifts during that time will also be dropped.
  • Referral Partner Libraries: Send me an email.

CHAT LIBRARIANS: If you are going on vacation and are therefore unable to cover your chat shift, please use Humanity to drop your shift and pick up a replacement shift. Instructions are on pages 6 and 8 in this document.