Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Avoid jumping into sessions

You may have noticed the “All” tab in chat. On this tab you can monitor – and join – live sessions happening with your library’s patrons.

HOWEVER…with great power, comes great responsibility. The QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference Cooperative recommends that we DO NOT just “jump” into chat sessions, as it can be disconcerting for both the patron and the chatting librarian.

Please review Cooperative Policy 5.4: Jumping into Sessions.

Here are two main things to remember:

1) If you see another librarian helping your patron and you wish to help, IM that librarian and ask them to transfer the session to you.

2) If you experience a local librarian incorrectly jumping into a session you are having with a patron, use the IM function to communicate with that librarian privately and then transfer the session to them. Do not close the chat session, or the chat session will be closed for everyone, including the patron.

More detailed guidance, including how to use IM and send notes to other librarians, can be found here: http://questionpoint.blogs.com/questionpoint_247_referen/2013/11/quality-tip-jumping-into-sessions-and-l2l-chat.html

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Legal questions

From time to time, Answerland receives legal questions from patrons. Luckily, we have law library partners that not only provide stellar legal reference, but also enjoy answering these types of questions!

So if your library gets a legal reference question, don’t hesitate to refer it to them. You can do so in two ways:

  • If you are chatting with a patron, let the patron know that you are referring their question to a law librarian for followup, end the session, and add the Descriptive Code Law Libraries. That will alert me to refer the question to them.
  • If you have a follow-up, email, or text question, refer the question to Partner (Subscription) and then select Oregon Law Libraries from the drop-down menu. The law librarians will receive an alert that there is a question that needs their attention.
Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Scripts

If you use a particular phrase or website often in chat or messages, you may want to create a script.

In QuestionPoint, you can create scripts both for yourself and for your institution (QP admins have this ability). QuestionPoint has a scripts clearinghouse to get ideas.

Scripts can be used both during chat and in email/text/followup responses. When helping another library’s patron in chat, be sure to use that library’s scripts, not your own.

I have imported statewide scripts from our old system. You can view them at Ask > Settings > Shared Scripts. If have any suggestions or comments, please let the Answerland Coordinator know!

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Referring a Question

At times you will want to refer a question to another library or librarian. There are several options for referring questions in QuestionPoint:

  • Shared Followup: Refer the question to the Shared Followup list.
  • Email Partner: Email the question to someone (librarian, teacher, etc.) who does not have a QuestionPoint account.
  • Subject Matter Expert: Refer the question to a 24/7 Coop SME.
  • Partner (Subscription): Refer the question to another Answerland library.

Here is a document that details how to use each of these options.

Couple of notes:

  • This is not for referring to a librarian within your library who has a QuestionPoint account. For that, use the Assign option.
  • You cannot include attachments with your referrals; you must send any attachments outside of QuestionPoint.
  • With Email Partner & SME referrals, you are responsible for reviewing and forwarding the referral response to the Patron.

See OCLC’s document on follow-ups and referrals for additional information.

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Crisis Calls

Although they happen rarely, we occasionally receive crisis calls on Answerland. These may be suicide calls or calls that indicate some sort of abuse or threat to personal safety involved. If you aren’t sure if there is a crisis or not, ask yourself the question, “Is someone in danger?” If that answer is YES, or if someone was in danger recently, or if someone will be in danger soon, it is a crisis call.

If you receive one:

  • Do a reference interview. It’s possible that the call is coming from a student doing research. One or two clarifying questions will determine if the call is personal in nature or not.
  • If the question is personal, refer the patron to an appropriate hotline. Links for hotline resources are listed at https://answerland.org/for-librarians/crisis-calls/.
  • Strike a balance between professional behavior and supportive behavior. If the patron is in trouble, we want to be friendly, supportive, and approachable, as with all of our patrons. However, remain professional and give resources rather than advice.
  • When the chat is ended, mark the question with the Descriptive Code “Crisis Call.” Then report the call to the Answerland Coordinator with the Question ID if possible, and if not, about what time it happened and who was online. If the call originated in a school or library, I will pass information on for follow up.

Also take a look at QP’s 24/7 Reference Cooperative policy on handling crisis calls.

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Question lists & statuses

Navigating the Ask module can be a bit tricky. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

Q: Why do some questions appear in more than one list? For example, I have a question that shows up in both New and Active.

A: Some of the lists identify questions by status:

  • New = needs followup by your library
  • Pending = awaiting followup by another library or patron
  • Answered = answer sent to patron
  • Closed = question complete

The other lists are compilations of statuses:

  • Active = Questions that are not closed (New + Pending + Answered)
  • Referred = Questions that are not closed (New + Pending + Answered) that you have referred to another library
  • All = All questions (New + Pending + Answered + Closed)


Q: Why is a question still showing in the Active list even though I answered it?

A: You have to change the status to Closed to remove a question from the Active list. You can either do it for each question (once you have the question opened, select Move To > Closed and click the blue arrow) or for several at once (in the list of questions, mark the check box next to the ones you want, and then at the very bottom of the list go to Select Action > Close Question and click the blue arrow).


Q: Why didn’t a get a notification for a question that appeared in my Active list?

A: If a question is marked as Answered during chat, then you don’t get a notification. You will know it has been marked Answered because an envelope icon will appear next to the question. (You can also see the resolution code in the transcript.) And even though the question has been answered, it will still go to your Active list. I recommend going through these questions to see if there is any need for followup before closing.


Q: If I close a question, can a patron still reply? If they do, will I be notified?

A: Yes, a patron can reply to a closed question. Once they do, the question will be reopened and assigned the status of New. You will receive a notification (if you have them enabled).

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: IM and Transfer

It’s been about a month and a half since Answerland went live with QuestionPoint, but you may not have yet had a chance to use the IM and Transfer features.  Here is a quick guide from QuestionPoint with the basics. And here is an 8- minute tutorial on Using IM and Transfer in QuestionPoint.

And for those of you who have your own chat queues enabled…. You may have noticed that when you click on the All tab in chat, you have the ability to see active chat sessions in your primary queue – and you can actually jump directly into sessions (via “conference mode”). However, it is not recommended that you do this. It is confusing to the patron for another librarian to suddenly appear, and can be confusing to the librarian as well. Instead, IM the librarian and have the session transferred.

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Patron email addresses

Confused about how QuestionPoint handles patron email addresses? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

Q: How do I tell if a patron has entered an email address in chat?

A: Take a look at the “Patron” field in the Info box in the bottom left corner of the chat window. If the patron didn’t enter an email address, it will say “No e-mail provided.”

Q: If a patron enters an email address during chat, will they get a copy of the transcript or do I have to send it to them?

A: If the patron clicks the Exit button in chat, then they will get a copy of the transcript emailed to them automatically. (You will see “Patron ended chat session” appear when the patrons clicks this button.) If the patron did not supply an email address, QuestionPoint prompts them for one when the Exit button is clicked so it can send the transcript. QuestionPoint does not send the transcript if the patron closes the chat window or goes to another web page without clicking the Exit button. (You will know this happened when you receive the message, “Patron is no longer connected.”)

Q: I changed a patron’s email address and QuestionPoint duplicated the question. Why?

A: When you use the Change Patron E-mail option, the system creates a copy of the question with a new patron email address and Question ID. You are given three options for dealing with the original question: Leave Unchanged, Delete, or Close Question.  To avoid confusion, it is recommended that you select either Delete or Close Question.

Q: Is there a way to send a patron a copy of the chat transcript (in case they didn’t get it, or if they ask for it)?

A: Yes. If you send an answer or clarification request to a patron, the chat transcript will be included.


Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Handling pranks

Answerland is back, and so are the pranksters. Here are guidelines for dealing with them:

  • If it is unclear as to the patron’s motives, conduct a reference interview. If it is still unclear, try sending the patron an informative website.
  • If the patron exhibits inappropriate language or behavior, use the “Obscene warning” script to provide a warning.
  • If the behavior continues, use the “Obscene disconnect” script and end the session. Upon ending the session, add the descriptive code Prank.

Take a look at Rude Patrons and Rude-Behavior Scripts on the QuestionPoint wiki for useful other tips and strategies.

And as always, feel free to report any issues directly to the Answerland Coordinator.