Archive for the ‘Technical Tips/Updates’ Category

Logging out at the end of your shift

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

“Hello, do you offer 24/7 live chat assistance?”

“Hello, sorry to interrupt in the middle of the night. I have some problems with my research paper.”

These questions came in to AskAway late one night after opening hours, with no one online to answer. It happens rarely, but every so often, an AskAwayer may forget to log out of QuestionPoint or have trouble logging out due to technical issues (e.g. computer freezes, power outage) and the service stays open through the night with no one to pick up calls.

How do I log out properly at the end of a shift?

AskAway closes once every service provider has left the queues and logged out. The short animation below will show you the steps to fully log out of the chat monitor at the end of your shift:

Steps to fully log out of AskAway


How can I tell if everyone is logged out and that AskAway has closed for the day?

There are a few places to look. The Librarians tab in the chat monitor will tell you how many people are logged in and how many queues they are monitoring. The Chat Monitoring Tool in QuestionPoint is another place you can find this information.

To see if AskAway has closed for the night, you can also check one of the Qwidgets on your library’s website to see if it is open or closed.

If I can’t log out at the end of my shift or I see that a colleague is still logged in after closing, who can I call for help?

If you notice that a colleague is still logged in after closing (and the service has stayed open) and they aren’t responding in Campfire, send them an IM in QuestionPoint. If you don’t hear from them, contact the Admin Centre.

If you’re unable to log out at the end of your shift due to technical difficulties, please contact us as soon as possible.

Can I wrap up calls with my patrons even after the service has closed?

Yes! It’s up to you if you want to wrap-up a call after your shift ends. If you’d like to wrap-up a call, deselect all of the queues you are monitoring. Your patron will still be Active and you can finish the call without any new calls coming in. When you’ve wrapped up the call, don’t forget to end the session and then log out of the chat monitor.

If you have any questions or any tips to add, let us know!

Fix for mobile Qwidget errors

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Some observant service providers discovered that on many library websites, the Qwidget does not display properly to users who are accessing AskAway via mobile devices using their mobile data plans. (Wifi displays OK.) The error appears as below:

Happily, we have a fix for the problem. In October, QuestionPoint provided us with updated Qwidget code that has not yet been made official, to fix the display problem on ProQuest and a few other sites. We’ve discovered that using the updated code fixes the mobile problem as well. 

If you have not already implemented the new code, there’s a simple way to do so.

Simplest way to update Qwidget code: 

If you’re using the current Version 4 Qwidget (which looks like this), you need only change three pieces of the code on each page where the Qwidget resides:

If you’re using the old Qwidget, you should generate the Version 4 code from the Create Qwidget screen, make the above edit, and then copy and paste into all your Qwidget locales.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

- Brandon

Short URLs for Qwidget Patrons

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

We often have to copy and paste a long URL, especially from database searches, into the Qwidget chat interface. But these long links can be overwhelming and frustrating for patrons. In some cases the URLs are even too long to paste into the chat box. Rather than disrupt your chat session with messy links… make your link tiny with a URL shortener instead! (more…)

Institutional Queues: Review and Update

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

You may have noticed a larger number of queues popping up over the past couple of weeks, as institutional queues are set up at more and more libraries. We now have 14 libraries running institutional queues, and there may be more in the near future.

As institutional queues are rapidly becoming a permanent fixture on AskAway, it may be worthwhile to review how institutional queues affect your shifts, and some tips on how to work with them.

How Institutional Queues Work

Institutional queues are like a separate chat stream, where patrons from a particular institution are sent to work with staff from their own libraries. If those staff are not available, the patrons are moved to the general queue where they can be seen by all AskAwayers.

  • If someone is staffing an institutional queue, patrons from that institution are directed to their queue immediately. They are not visible in the general AskAway queue.
    • If the patron is not picked up for 40 seconds, they are dropped into the general AskAway queue.
  • If no one is staffing the institutional queue, their patrons are sent immediately to the AskAway queue and experience no delay.
  • Patron’s don’t know when they’ve been moved from one queue to the other.
  • If you see a patron from another library’s institutional queue, check whether an AskAwayer from their institution is logged in.
    • If so, that means the patron has already been waiting for 40 seconds, but their local service provider was too busy to pick them up. These patrons should be picked up as soon as possible.
    • If not, their institutional queue is closed, and they should be handled normally.
  • A patron’s queue shows up in the “Queue” field in the Chat Monitor. “BC Academic” is the general AskAway queue.

Selecting Queues when starting the Chat Monitor

When you start the Chat Monitor, you must select all queues (both checkboxes) in order to see all patrons. Patrons coming from queues that are not selected will be invisible to you.

At present, staffing AskAway means you should be logged into 15 queues. If someone is logged into fewer than 15 queues, many AskAway patrons will be invisible to them. Please let them know in Campfire that they should check the Queues menu and make sure they’re fully logged in.

People staffing the Institutional Queue only


One benefit of having an institutional queue is having the option to monitor it outside of your AskAway staffing commitment, to work only with patrons from your library. To do so, you would open the Chat Monitor as normal, and select only your institution’s queue.

When you look in the Librarians tab and see someone on just one queue, they are likely there outside of their AskAway commitment. They should not be expected to pick up AskAway questions, and will probably not log into Campfire. Please do not transfer chats to them without their permission.

Which libraries have institutional queues

Institutional queues are now active for the following libraries:

  • BCIT
  • Capilano University
  • Douglas College
  • Emily Carr University
  • KPU
  • Langara College
  • Northern Lights College
  • NWCC
  • Okanagan College
  • SFU
  • Thompson Rivers University
  • Trinity Western University
  • UBC
  • UVic

All libraries are now welcome to set up institutional queues at no additional cost, so there may be more in the near future.

If you have any further questions or concerns about institutional queues, or if your library wishes to set one up, please contact the Admin Centre.

All Tab Display Issues in QuestionPoint: An Update!

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Many AskAway service providers have reported that the All () tab in QuestionPoint no longer displays an accurate count of your colleagues ongoing questions since the addition of the new BME Queues (see below for example). We’ve reported the issue to QuestionPoint and the investigation is ongoing but in the meantime there’s other ways to deal with queue management!

With the addition of the Institutional BME Queues your colleagues may suddenly display many questions ongoing that never even made it to the Primary queue. This is because incoming questions for that Institution are offered for 40 seconds to those service providers first before they roll up into the Primary queue. Due to this your colleagues may be handling many more questions than expected.  In some cases they may also only be monitoring their own BME queue (check the Queues column for more information) and are unavailable for Primary queue questions.

Check the Librarians tab and Chat Monitoring Tool frequently for updates.

All Tabs in QuestionPoint

  1. Check the Librarians () Tab instead! This tab is updated with all ongoing question counts including those you may never see arrive in the New () tab as they were picked up directly from a BME queue.
  2. Communicate in Campfire! Please remember to login to Campfire to communicate with your colleagues even if you’re only monitoring your own BME queue.
  3. Check the Chat Monitoring Tool for in-depth information! From your QuestionPoint Home page you can click the Chat Monitoring Tool link in the top menu or below the Launch Chat link for more information on all ongoing questions.

Chat Monitoring Tool Link

For additional information on the All () Tab check AskAway Blog: All About the All Tab (2012) and AskAway Blog: QuestionPoint All Tab Display Issues (2013).  Questions or comments? Contact the AskAway Administrative Centre.