Archive for the ‘Tips (General)’ 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!

Quick tips to improve conversations with patrons

Monday, July 31st, 2017

QuestionPoint recently hosted a brief 30 minute webinar with quick tips to improve chat reference conversations. They also shared several follow-up questions and answers from the session.

In the webinar, a public and an academic librarian share general tips that can be applied to any chat reference question, from in-depth research to circulation.

Three tips that stood out were:

  1. Follow the chatter’s lead
  2. Think beyond the chat
  3. Give the patron’s question the benefit of the doubt

Follow the chatter’s lead
Erin Callahan from Hennepin County Library encourages you to follow the chatter’s lead. By doing so, you let them decide how much information you provide, how fast the chat and the search progress, and where to go next. Set realistic expectations and provide options, but let the learner guide the interaction as much as possible. As you’re working with a learner, you could ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are they in a hurry? Or should you move slowly?
  • Do they want a little bit of help to get started or are they looking for a deep dive?
  • Are they done with their research or should they be referred for further help?

Think beyond the chat
This tip is all about setting the patron up for success. According to Callahan, chat reference is a conversation and each conversation provides an opportunity for the library to build a positive relationship with the patron. Although at AskAway, library staff don’t follow-up directly with patrons after a chat, we can still provide the patron with the information they need to continue their search or seek further help:

  • Point to other resources that the learner can check out later on their own time
  • Share search tips and suggestions as you go
  • If necessary, refer them and provide them with the information they need for a successful referral

As always, encourage the chatter to email themselves a transcript so that they can revisit the chat and draw on it during any follow-up.

Give the patron’s question the benefit of the doubt
Have you ever received a question that catches you off guard? It might sound like a question that’s not related to coursework or it might sound like a prank. Lisa Hartman from Frostburg State University has some interesting examples of these types of questions and encourages you to give the patron the benefit of the doubt.

When a learner comes in with an unexpected question, a reference interview can go a long way. If you don’t understand the question, it’s okay to say so and to ask for further information and clarification. Sometimes, you’ll need to draw a line and explain what services you can provide.

If the patron has a legitimate information need, they will be thankful that you took their question seriously and took the time to help. If their question is outside the scope of AskAway or the library, they will learn something about the library and its services.

Tips to share?

If you have any more tips to share or any comments, feel free to contact the Admin Centre!


Preparing for unexpected patrons

Friday, February 24th, 2017

As we are now approaching the busy part of the term, it may be helpful to review some tips and recommended procedures for working with unexpected patrons. 

Although it happens rarely, AskAway sometimes receives calls from unexpected patrons. These might include chats with non post-secondary patrons, pranksters, patrons with technical difficulties, or patrons in crisis. The Unexpected Patrons page has best practices and tips to help you be prepared and work with these patrons smoothly.

If you have any questions about these pages or suggestions for improvement, feel free to contact the Admin Centre.

Sending database links to patrons

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

A recent message from a service provider:

“I’ve been having intermittent problems sending working links to Ebsco databases to patrons over Askaway. I’ll send a link to search results or a journal article and they will be sent to an Ebsco page where it asks them to pick their server. This is not the database homepage or a university off-campus log in page.”

If you’re running into this kind of problem, you’re probably sending patrons links copied from the address bar in your browser. Those URLs usually do not include institutional proxies, and when patrons follow them from off-campus, they will get redirected.

The solution to this is the Permalink. Databases will typically include permalinks to both articles and search results – you just need to know where to look. The following demonstrate permalinks in EBSCO databases.



Unreliable link via address bar:

Reliable permalink:

Permalinks to journal articles

On the article’s record page, you’ll see a Tools menu in the sidebar. Clicking the Permalink option opens a text box near the top of the page, with a URL to copy. This permalink includes the institution’s proxy information, and will send patrons to the right place without redirection.

Permalinks to search results

You can also send permalinks to search results. On the search result page, click the Share button. Choose Use Permalink, and copy the URL that appears.

Tips for busy times and multiple patrons

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

As we’re now in the busy part of the term, it may be helpful to review some tips and recommended procedures for busy times and handling multiple patrons on AskAway.