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.

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 answerland.org > 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!

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Working with K-12 students

It’s that time of year again, when Answerland receives a lot of visits from K-12 students doing class research projects. Here are some tips for working with these patrons:

  • At times you might find chat overwhelmed by a barrage of similar student requests. We commonly refer to this as a ‘class bomb’ – where an entire class is logging into Answerland at the same time (usually at the behest of their instructor) and asking questions. If you ever find yourself in the middle of a ‘class bomb,’ don’t panic! You only have to pick up one patron at a time. If you want to pick up more than one, use the “Class Visit” script. You can also use the IM feature within chat to give a fellow librarian a shout-out for help.
  • Use OSLIS. Not only does it have databases, but also information literacy tips and tutorials and citation makers. See the Statewide Resources pages for info about accessing the databases.
  • Don’t hesitate to report inappropriate behavior to the Answerland Coordinator. We have had success reaching out to teachers and media specialists who are grateful for the heads up and can remind students about online etiquette.
Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Dealing with pranksters on the 24/7 queue

We’ve posted before about dealing with Answerland pranksters, but the situation can be a little different when you’re staffing the 24/7 Cooperative queues.

In Answerland, we use the Descriptive Code “prank” to mark sessions. However, you will recall from the training and documentation that when working with a non-Answerland patron, you do not want to use Descriptive Codes. The Cooperative’s policy is that Descriptive Codes are assigned only to sessions or transactions with one’s own patrons.

So how do you mark a 24/7 Coop session as a “prank”? The Coop’s recommendation is to use the Resolution Code “Followup by Patron’s Library” and then add a note for the librarian. This way the library is made aware of the situation. You can read more advice in the Persistent Repeat Patron policy.

Of course, as always, you can also report situations to the Answerland Coordinator who will followup with QuestionPoint.

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Configuring IE for QP

Is your library using Internet Explorer to access QuestionPoint? If so, here are some recommended settings (for IE 11) to ensure that chat works well.

  • Set up the browser history to be automatically cleared.
    • Under Tools > Internet Options, on the General tab, check the box that says Delete browsing history on exit.
  • Allow popups. There are a couple of ways to do this, depending on your IE setup:
    • Go to Tools > Pop-up Blocker, and select Turn off Pop-up Blocker.
    • Or, go to Tools > Internet Options > Privacy tab, and under Pop-up Blocker make sure Turn on Popup Blocker is not checked. If you want to keep your pop-up blocker enabled, on the Privacy Tab, select Settings next to Pop-up Blocker and add www.questionpoint.org to the list of allowed sites.
  • Use tabs.
    • Under Tools > Internet Options > General tab, click on Tabs. Under When a Popup is encountered, select Always open popups in a new tab.

Thanks to Eugene Public Library for this week’s tip!

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: You’ve ended a chat, but…

Have you ever ended a chat session with another library’s patron, and then realized you selected the wrong Resolution Code or forgot to add a note for the librarian?

Never fear! While you can’t change the Resolution Code of a session after the fact, you have a few options for followup:

  • If you still have the library’s policy page up, click on the email address in the Policy Page Email Contact. Use the form that appears to send a note to the library.
  • Search for the question in your library’s question lists. If it appears, use Send Message to Librarian to add a note for library. More about this here.
  • If you selected Followup By Me by accident, locate the question in your library’s question list and click Reject under Referred by. This will change the status of the question to New, so that it will now appear in the patron library’s New list, with a red question mark.

If none of these options work, you can always contact the Answerland Coordinator who will work with QuestionPoint’s Quality Team to get the library the needed information.