Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Refresher: Resolution and Descriptive Codes

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

At the end of a chat session, you have the opportunity to add Resolution and Descriptive codes to your chat. By adding these codes, you help us track technical issues with the service and give a clear picture of why patrons are coming to AskAway and the kind of help you are providing them.

Below, you’ll find a quick refresher on how to apply resolution and descriptive codes.

Adding a Resolution Code

Resolution codes allow us to track technical problems and to exclude practice calls from AskAway statistics.

Add only 1 of the following resolution codes:

Answered: For all sessions unless one of the other two codes apply. Even if you referred the student or did not fully answer the question, use this code.

Lost Call: If you think there was some technical reason why the patron disappeared abruptly or unexpectedly.

Practice: If you’re practicing or testing the service.

Please do not use any of the other resolution codes. If you referred a patron, use the Referred or Referred to Home Library descriptive codes.

How to add a resolution code.

Adding a resolution code


Adding Descriptive Codes

Descriptive codes help us understand how students use AskAway and what kind of help you are providing them. This information allows us to respond to learners’ needs at the service level. Thanks to descriptive codes, we know that approximately 40% of AskAway questions are related to research and 10% are questions about accessing eResources.

You can add up to 4 descriptive codes per session. For example, if you have a research question and during the chat you help the student with an interlibrary loan and at the end of the chat refer them to their liaison librarian, you would add the following codes: Research, Interlibrary Loan, Referred to Home Library.

The AskAway staff website has more information about descriptive codes, including definitions for each.

Adding descriptive codes.

Adding a descriptive code


Questions about resolution or descriptive codes? Feel free to contact me at the AskAway Admin Centre.

Student preferences for different forms of reference

Friday, June 27th, 2014

A very interesting article came out in CRL last month, entitled “A Usability Evaluation of Academic Virtual Reference Services“. Studies were done at two American universities comparing students’ experiences with and preferences for various forms of reference service, with extremely positive results for AskAway-style online chat.

Well worth a read:

OutLook OnLine Outage Sunday March 23rd

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Just a heads-up that OutLook OnLine, the service you may use to help patrons discover items held at BC public or post-secondary libraries, will be offline on Sunday, March 23rd from 9 AM – 6 PM.  While OutLook is offline, the alternative will be to search library catalogues individually.  It will be back up and running as normal on Monday March 24th.
- Sunni

AskAway Administrative Centre

Ethical Dilemmas survey

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Something that came up on the DIGI_REF listserv that might be of interest to AskAwayers. Here’s a chance to contribute some data points to a study on ethics in reference work…

Dear colleagues,

I cordially invite you to complete a brief survey that seeks to study reference librarians’ experience with ethical dilemmas at work.

It will only take ten minutes of your time, and your input is highly appreciated. Results of the survey will be presented at the 2014 International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) satellite meeting organized by the Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE). Also, it will help educators gain insights on how to better teach ethics in courses about reference and information services.

The survey study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at San Jose State University. The survey is completely anonymous.

By click the survey link below, you are consenting to participate in this study. Please contact me at if you have any questions regarding the survey.

Thank you!



Lili Luo
Associate Professor
School of Library and Information Science
San Jose State University, CA
* *

Mobile Options for AskAway Virtual Reference

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

With the expanding use of tablets and smart phones, increasing mobile options for patrons has become a priority for many post-secondary libraries. These mobile-friendly versions of online library services include simplified web design and page layouts optimized for viewing on mobile screens. Examples include simplified versions of home pages, search interfaces and chat-based reference services.

While AskAway services are already designed to provide online reference services, the ability to expand and promote AskAway on mobile devices increases both the reach of the service and convenience for the patron. BC’s post-secondary libraries are exploring how to provide mobile access to AskAway using a variety of methods. Here’s a quick overview of the mobile AskAway options that are currently available.

1. AskAway Qwidget embedded on a simplified webpage
Libraries are providing mobile AskAway services by embedding a Qwidget on a simplified, mobile-optimized webpage. At present, this works with the newest version of the Qwidget code, as well as the older version that was recently replaced.  An example of this can be found via SFU’s mobile library website, by clicking the “Reference and Research Help”, then “Ask A Librarian”. Other libraries that offer mobile AskAway via this method are: College of the Rockies, Langara College, and Vancouver Community College.

2. The AskAway fullscreen interface
The fullscreen AskAway interface is also being promoted and used as a mobile option, by linking to it from a mobile-optimized library webpage.  An example can be found at Kwantlen University’s mobile library website, by clicking “Contact Us”, then “Chat with a Librarian”.

3. A mobile-optimized AskAway interface
Libraries are also providing mobile AskAway services by using an interface specifically meant for mobile chat. An example of this can be found via Vancouver Island University’s mobile library website, by clicking the link for “AskAway Chat Research Help”.

4. A pop-out version of the AskAway Qwidget
Another way that libraries are providing mobile access via a pop-out version of the Qwidget that opens up to a standalone window of its own. An example of this can be found at Alexander College’s library website, by clicking the AskAway logo under “Ask A Question”.

If your institution is currently using one of these mobile AskAway techniques, or you are using other mobile methods, we’d love to hear from you about how it’s going. For a more detailed report on current mobile options for AskAway, download the full report here.