Archive for the ‘Policy & Procedural Issues’ Category

Troubleshooting and procedures

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

After the PLnet outage last week and several reports sent to me about folks having trouble logging in, it may be helpful to have a reminder about how to handle technical problems, forgotten passwords, and login/out procedures.

If you’ve run into any of these problems, please try the solutions below. If problems still occur, contact your local coordinator or the Admin Centre for help.

Trouble logging in

If you’re having trouble connecting to QuestionPoint, make sure you’re using a modern browser.

Internet Explorer is not recommended, and versions 7 and below will not work at all.

If possible, use Chrome or Firefox.

More details on technical troubleshooting can be found on the AskAway staff portal:

Forgotten passwords

If you’ve forgotten your password, you can have it sent to you automatically at the QuestionPoint login screen:

  • At, after you click Librarian Login, click the link beside “Forgot your password?”
  • Enter your user ID (a string of six numbers) to have the password sent to your email address.

There is no way to automatically retrieve your user ID — we recommend writing it down and keeping it within easy reach. Your local coordinator or the Admin Centre can help you retrieve your ID from the system, but having it on hand is the best way to ensure that you can log in on time.

Log-in procedures

A reminder of log-in procedures, including some handy tips, can be found in the Shift Checklist:

If you have a history of technical problems connecting to QuestionPoint, try logging in ahead of your shift to make sure you’re properly set up.

If you wish to just log in for troubleshooting purposes, you can use the practice queue. Instructions for using the practice queue  can be found here:

Logging out

Please be careful to properly log out at the end of your shift. If you don’t log out formally, the system keeps you logged in even after you close the browser.

There have been a few incidents lately when several librarians forgot to log out after their shifts had ended, leaving a chat monitor that looked overpopulated while the shift was actually understaffed due to a missing person. The Admin Centre had to enter these accounts to manually log them out.

It is important to properly exit Campfire as well, since there is a limit to the number of people allowed in the room at once. If several people fail to exit and instead just close the browser window, they may end up blocking others from entering the chat room.

The schedule

The current up-to-date schedule can always be found here:

If there’s any question about when your institution is scheduled, that page provides the answer.

If you’re alone/swamped

If your shift is understaffed, or if you’re simply overwhelmed by students, use the Swamped button to summon help:

Don’t forget to send a Cancel Swamped message once things have calmed down again.

If someone is missing from your shift, please call or email the Admin Centre to let us know. We will follow up with the appropriate people to investigate and try to get the shift staffed ASAP.

If you’ve any questions about AskAway procedures or need more assistance, feel free to contact the Admin Centre.

Update to Descriptive and Resolution Codes

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

We have recently updated the Resolution and Descriptive Codes page to provide a clearer explanation of which codes should be applied in which situations. The page outlines the codes that are available, with explanations for when they should be applied.

You can find it here:

Descriptive codes provide valuable information about the kinds of questions that come into the service. They provide concrete facts about how the service is used, which can help institutions make decisions. And they can give some surprising results.

For example, it’s commonly assumed that chat reference mainly receives circulation and directional questions. But if you look at the data, the majority of AskAway questions by far are in-depth research — while circulation and directional combined amount to just 10% of our sessions.

Spring 2014 Descriptive Codes

Up to four descriptive codes can be applied to a given chat, which can provide a very complete picture of how the service is used. At present the codes are applied to between 60% and 70% of sessions. The closer we get to 100%, the more complete an understanding we can achieve.

For a fuller explanation of how to apply resolution and descriptive codes and what they can tell us, please see this earlier post:



Critical Procedures for Closing Shifts

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

For those of you that work closing shifts on AskAway, here’s some critical procedures to remember:

1. Queue Management. During your shift check the Librarians () tab or Chat Monitoring Tool for question loads and offer in Campfire to assist or take transfers if necessary.  More information on the AskAway Blog: All Tab Display Issues in QuestionPoint: An Update! (2013).  Remember some librarians may have more questions than expected due to the institution queues.

2. Closing Related Scripts. Use the Begin – We’re Closing Soon script to remind patrons that we’re closing soon if you pick-up research questions 5-15 minutes before closing.  Use the Close – Sorry We’re Closed script on questions picked-up after closing but before everyone has left the queue.

3. Coordinate Closing the Queue. At closing time communicate with your colleagues in Campfire about a coordinated exit from the queue.  How do you exit from the queue while finishing up on-going questions? At closing time (1) Click on the Queue link at the top of the chat monitor and (2) Uncheck and Save the list of Queue’s monitored to zero (0), even if you have live chats in progress. The service will close when every librarian has left the AskAway Queue. The Qwidget and Fullscreen Chat links on library web pages will close allowing you to wrap up your current questions without new questions being queued.

4. Offer assistance to Your Colleagues. If you’re all wrapped-up and everyone has left the queue try checking how many questions your colleagues still have via the Chat Monitoring Tool or Campfire.  We can’t always stay a few minutes late to wrap-up but, if possible, try to be considerate and offer to help with any research for ongoing questions at closing. It isn’t necessary to take a transfer (and sometimes isn’t desirable) but offering to find a few guides or resources can help everyone wrap-up faster!

5. Logout Properly. Please remember to click the top-right Logout link in the chat monitor, and the Exit button in the My QuestionPoint window at the end of your shift. Closing the browser window does not log you out of QuestionPoint, and the service may stay open all night as a result.

IMPORTANT: If you are unable to log out properly due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g. computer crash, power failure, etc.) please contact the AskAway Coordinator, Sunni, immediately at this number: 778-237-6276.  She can then log you out properly. Remember the AskAway service does not close until all service providers have left the queue!

Let the AskAway Admin Centre know if you have any questions about this! / 778-782-5419.

March Statistics and User Feedback

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

March AskAway stats are now available on the AskAway site:

March form fields statistics are available on the AskAway site:

March’s exit survey results are also available on the AskAway site:

Last month we received exit survey responses from these institutions:  BCIT, CC, CU, DC, KPU, LC, NIC, SFU, TRU, TWU, UBC, UFV, UNBC, UVic, VIU

An important note for service providers: it is essential that all (non-practice) calls be labelled with the resolution code Answered unless the call is disconnected, and labelled Lost Call. Please do not leave the resolution code blank or use the resolution code Followup by Patron’s Library, as these distort our statistics. If you have questions or comments about this, please contact the administrative centre.

Here are a few comments from AskAway patrons:
I found this site to be very helpful and quick. I was able to get direct help with my search and was able continue with my researching for my paper, not wasting time surfing thru useless information
– North Island College learner

Thank you so much for this service. Both times I have used it I have been met with friendly, extremely useful assistance. Keep it up!
_ Simon Fraser University learner

The experience was SO helpful, and I was really stuck. I am so glad I used Askaway, wish I had in the past. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
– University of Victoria learner

I love Askaway! So helpful! Thank you!
– Langara College learner

AskAway feedback is always largely positive; learners usually express a lot of gratitude for the service. We do receive some constructive feedback from patrons, often from those who have appreciated some part of the service but saw room for improvement, or as in the first case below, an enthusiastic user who had an unusual negative experience. We are sharing this feedback with you in hopes of continuing to work together to improve AskAway’s user experience.

I use this service almost on a weekly basis and always have amazing, excellent and friendly service. Today, the person did not read my questions closely and closed the conversation in a rude manner which did not allow me to thank you, etc.
– University of Victoria learner

I think it would be beneficial if the librarian walked the students through the process rather than just giving them the link.
– University of the Fraser Valley learner

Questions or comments? Please feel free to contact me at the Admin Centre.

Reece, BC ELN

To Log Out or Not to Log Out?

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Here are a couple of tips related to logging out of QuestionPoint in different situations.

Situation #1: it’s the end of your shift, but you would like to finish up one of your questions. You don’t want to pick up any new sessions, or appear to be available for new sessions. Is there a way to log out of the queues without disconnecting with the patron you are helping?
Yes! It’s quick and easy to de-select the queues while staying connected to your patron.

  • Click the “Queues” link at the top of the librarian viewscreen
  • Uncheck the queues and save the list

Situation #2: your computer has crashed while on AskAway! Fortunately it was just about the end of your shift. Do you need to log out before leaving AskAway?
Yes! Please log out of QuestionPoint as usual. Even if your computer turns off or crashes, QuestionPoint will keep you logged in so that patrons do not get dropped. Other AskAwayers might be unaware that you left and wait for you to pick up calls. If you are still logged in at closing time, it’s necessary for the Admin Centre to intervene so that AskAway doesn’t appear to be open all night.

As always, feel free to contact us at the admin centre with comments and questions!
– Reece, BC ELN