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.”

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.

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Statewide resources

When answering Answerland questions, don’t forget to direct patrons to available statewide resources – including databases via Libraries of Oregon and the law libraries databases. These can be especially useful for patrons who do not have a library card, or whose library does not have the information they are looking for.

You can find information about these resources, including tip sheets and access information, on > For Librarians > Reference & Policies > Statewide resources.

You can also find this information in the “Answerland – Academic Libraries” and “Answerland – Public & School Libraries” policy pages in QuestionPoint. To view these policy pages outside of chat, go to QuestionPoint > Quick Links (in left column) > Search Policy Pages, and search for “Answerland.”

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Spanish chat queue

QuestionPoint’s 24/7 Reference Cooperative has a Spanish chat queue, staffed by bilingual librarians from participating libraries.

These Spanish-speaking librarians are not on chat at all times, but when they are, you can transfer active sessions to them. To do so:

  1. Click Transfer
  2. Click Queues, to see if the Spanish queue appears*
  3. Click Spanish queue, and the session will be transferred

Here are these directions with screenshots.

*If the Spanish queue does not appear when you click Queues, then there are no bilingual librarians monitoring the Spanish queue at that time.

The Cooperative is always looking for bilingual librarians to help staff the Spanish queue. If any of you speak Spanish and are willing to monitor the queue, please let the Answerland Coordinator know!