Answerland Goings-On

Answerland Goings-On, December 2019

Software migration

Answerland’s current software, QuestionPoint, was sold to Springshare in May 2019. We will be moving to the new LibAnswers platform by May 29, 2020. The Answerland Coordinator is working with Springshare and the partner library liaisons on a migration plan. More details to come!

In the meantime, to learn more about the new software review this webinar on the software and sign up for upcoming Cooperative training sessions.

Annual Report

The FY19 Annual Report has been published! Take a look to see a summary of last year’s activities, usage, and staffing.

Quality Team in Action

The Answerland Quality Team updated the Best Practices for Quality in Chat Reference last year, and had the opportunity to present them at the North American Virtual Reference Conference (watch a recording) and Oregon Reference Summit (view their slides). Way to go!

Patrons Chat Back

Recent comments from our survey…

  • They were very helpful in finding alternative ways of looking up my research topic to get the results I need
  • Thank you for providing this service. It was very satisfying to have someone to talk to when I was frustrated with not being able to receive the immediate service I needed.
  • I am a current college student and found out about this service from my professor. I used it once before, but did not have the best experience so was hesitant to use again. But my professor suggested I try. I can honestly say that even though there was a bit of a wait, which I completely understand, the research Librarian that helped me this evening was fantastic. She helped in so many ways to find me amazing information! I will definitely come back!
  • I was looking for citation help, and using this system was much faster and more understandable than a generic google search.
  • Wow, I just discovered a gold mine of resources… thank ya’ll!
  • It was great to have access to help on a Sunday! Very easy to communicate and describe what I needed help with. Thank you so much for this service. It is invaluable when writing copious amounts of papers.
  • I received a clear answer to my question quickly and the librarian who helped me was very kind.
  • I’m very grateful of an online librarian. I haven’t been to school in a few years. Currently in grad school and happy I can get assistance on articles or literature I am researching for a final project. I am even learning how to search for use EBSCO and other searching engines to research
  • This is so useful thank you to all librarians who participate!!
Answerland Goings-On

Answerland Goings-On, April 2019

Coordinator on Leave This Summer

The Answerland Coordinator will be on leave later this summer (July through September). A colleague at the State Library will be providing Answerland support; if you need assistance, please contact During that time, Answerland will not being providing training, taking on new volunteers or partner libraries, or making major changes to the chat schedule.

Update on the QuestionPoint Chat Monitor Redesign

QuestionPoint has successfully implemented an updated chat interface for library staff. It is no longer based in Flash and includes enhancements such as automatic spellcheck, emoji’s, and searchable scripts. Documentation and videos on the new interface are available on the QuestionPoint Support page. If you experience issues, please contact the Answerland Coordinator ( or OCLC Support (

Join Us at the Reference Summit!

Join us at the Oregon Reference Summit on May 31! In particular you won’t want to miss Clare Sobotka and Joanna Milner talking about the Quality Team’s “Improvements to Answerland Resources for Librarians.”  There is also a social the night before, which is a great chance to hang out with Answerland and reference colleagues from around the state. Register today!

New Tutorials

There are two new Answerland training tutorials available – one for new staff and one for volunteers. They are available from the Training & Events page on the Answerland Staff Toolkit. Feedback welcome!

Patrons Chat Back

Recent comments from our survey…

  • Staff was so very helpful and thoughtful!! I’m grateful for this service!!!
  • [The librarian] gave me steps to figure out why some of my emagaines wouldn’t open to read while some would. Thank you for having this helpful service. Even at night when another library far away helps me, it is so nice to get help when I’m stuck.
  • I feel my librarian went above and beyond what was necessary to help me. I could not have found my article without her.
  • The chat feature made it very easy for me to resolve an issue with my account while I was at work. The librarian who assisted was quick and very helpful.
  • You saved my life. Whew! Thanks so much.
  • I really appreciate the help during my strict deadline. She was incredibly helpful and willing to go out of her way!
  • My contact person explored several avenues to give me the help I requested and even when I was ready to pursue the suggestions he came up with more answers. This person went overboard to be of assistance. His efforts are appreciated.
  • I was helped by two librarians and both were very patient with me. I can be a tad slow on the computer so this patience was very much appreciated.
  • The service was very helpful, and appreciated on a rainy Saturday when I was not on campus. Thanks!


Answerland Goings-On

Answerland Goings-On, January 2019

Update on the QuestionPoint Chat Monitor Redesign

Here’s the latest news from OCLC: Early next year [2019], you will see a new look for the chat monitor interface that will also move QuestionPoint off the Flash software platform. We’re completing final testing of the user experience and performance now. This thorough testing will verify that the changes are ready for use by the entire QuestionPoint community. You can see the redesigned interface before its release: 

  • In mid-January: Review updated training and documentation resourceson the QuestionPoint support site. We’ll let you know as soon as they are available.
  • In late January/early February: Take advantage of pre-release access to the new interface.The current and redesigned interfaces will operate in parallel for at least two weeks before access to the current version ends. During this time, you can test drive the new interface and provide feedback on your experience via a brief survey.

New! Answerland Staff Toolkit

The “For Librarians” page on the website now leads to an Answerland Staff Toolkit ( It includes documentation on using QuestionPoint, best practices, useful reference resources, and training information. Check it out; feedback welcome!

Answerland Homepage Refresh

The homepage has a new look, designed to be more mobile-friendly and usable. Special thanks to Claire Bolyard at the State Library for creating the new design!

Ending Texting

It was decided at the last Answerland Advisory Committee meeting to discontinue Answerland’s texting service, due to low usage. The service will be available until June 30.

Patrons Chat Back

Recent comments from our survey…

  • “[The librarian] was fantastic and I don’t say that lightly. Calmly figured out my problem with the information I had for her and came up with just the result I needed. Answerland is always good but this was exceeded my expectations for service!”
  • “Super fast assistance time even this late, I will definitely be using this again and recommending people to use it.”
  • “[The librarian] was supportive, engaging and helpful. I started out feeling lost, but ended feeling found!”
  • “I was helped by two librarians and both were very patient with me. I can be a tad slow on the computer so this patience was very much appreciated.”
  • “I love your 24 hours service! I was able to find my answers quickly and all the Librarians I have dealt with in the last 24 hours have been amazing. I love that if they don’t know the answer or they are busy – I have the option of getting a reply through email later when they are able to find an answer. I feel very valued that my questions get answered eventually in a timely matter. Thank you for providing this service. I really appreciate it.”
  • “My librarian was from another state and she was able to find the OBOB audiobook listings for me in about one minute. Amazing.”
  • “I was completely awed by the quality of service I received. I’ve used a LOT of online support channels and this has been one of the BEST experiences I have ever had. Kudos for getting it right!!!”
Answerland Goings-On

Answerland Goings-On, October 2018

The Answerland newsletter is back! If you have questions or news to share, let me know! -Tamara, Answerland Coordinator (

Annual Report

The FY18 Annual Report has been published! Take a look to see a summary of last year’s activities, usage, and staffing.

Quality Team

The Answerland Quality Team has been hard at work revamping the quality rubric, best practices, and Quality Team webpage. They are looking for mentors to help guide the next generation of Answerlanders; apply today!


The year-long assessment project has come to a close. See the final report for results and recommendations. One of the outcomes of that project is the formation of a subgroup to investigate new software options and service models. Stay tuned for findings!

Patrons Chat Back

Recent comments from our survey…

  • “I’m impressed with the way the question was handled; not an answer directly, but a guided support to find the answer myself.”
  • “Chat was friendly and helpful and they left a note for my librarian to get back to me for some additional help.”
  • “Thanks for offering this service! It sure helped me without having to go to the library first.”
  • “The librarian I was connected to was very helpful in recommending titles at my local library that would provide the information I was looking for!”
  • “Very prompt and convenient! Keep it up!”
  • “I was very happy with the service. It steered me in the right direction, and the librarian was very helpful and precise. I appreciated it very much, and would not hesitate to use it again.”
Oregon Reference Summit

Call for Proposals

The 1st annual Oregon Reference Summit will be held Friday, June 1, 2018 at the LaSells Stewart Center at Oregon State University.

The planning committee invites you to submit proposals for programs and Lightning Talks relating to reference service.

Possible topics might include:

  • The value of reference in the digital era
  • Marketing reference services
  • Fostering a sense of community through reference interactions
  • Answering difficult/unusual reference questions
  • Providing reference remotely
  • Unique and/or useful reference resources
  • Best practices in customer service

Programs should be designed to run for a total of 60 minutes including Q&A; longer programs/workshops will be considered on a case-by-case basis (if a longer program/workshop is desired, please include that in the Comments field).

Lightning Talks should be designed to last no more than 5 minutes.

The submission form is here:

Proposals will be accepted until February 9, 2018.

Questions? Contact Tamara Ottum, chair of the planning committee.

Oregon Reference Summit

Save the date!

Friday, June 1, 2018 – LaSells Stewart Center, Oregon State University

Join us at this one-day conference with reference-focused content appropriate for all skill levels, library types, and experiences! It is an excellent opportunity to meet reference staff from around the state face-to-face and exchange ideas.

Our keynote is Erin Berman, Innovations Manager at San Jose Public Library. A 2016 Movers & Shakers winner, Erin will speak about the shifting role of librarians in serving our customers’ information and literacy needs.

The Summit is an adaption of the Oregon Virtual Reference Summit, which was held annually from 2008-2015. (You can view presentations from the past OVRS programs on Northwest Central.)

This year’s Summit is sponsored by Answerland; the Oregon Library Association’s Reference and Legal Reference Roundtables; and the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the State Library of Oregon.

Questions? Contact Tamara Ottum, chair of the Summit planning committee.


QuestionPoint Online Training Recordings – June 2017

Recordings from the online QuestionPoint training sessions held June 2017 are now available. Please note that you need to register to play the recordings.

Ask Module

This session includes:

  • How questions are duplicated in the system
  • Changing patron email addresses
  • Question lists and statuses

Play recording (1 hour, 7 min)

Chat Module

This session includes:

  • Referrals – what Coop services are available
  • Current tips for configuring browsers
  • Scripts: explanation of what you see in Chat and how to organize these in a findable way
  • Doing IM/Transfer
  • Knowing what Resolution Codes to use

Play recording (1 hour, 22 minutes)

Reports Module

This session includes:

  • Overview of Reports and Review Transcripts
  • Offline reports

Play recording (1 hour, 10 minutes)

Knowledge Base Module

This session includes:

  • Introduction to QuestionPoint Knowledge Bases
  • Implementing a Local knowledge base
  • Searching the knowledge base
  • How to add, edit, and update knowledge base question/answer pairs
  • Knowledge base privileges

Play recording (45 minutes)

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 ( 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.”