Archive for March, 2011

Evening Statistics

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

We have been taking a look at AskAway statistics in the evenings, specifically the 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm period, and wanted to share our findings with you.

Like the overall use of AskAway, the number of sessions in the evening has continued to grow. Fall 2010 saw 180 more AskAway sessions than fall 2009, an increase of 11%.  Of the 180 additional sessions, 105 of them were between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm, an increase of 19% for that time over the previous year. The hour between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm was also the busiest evening time overall, with a total of 652 AskAway sessions in the fall.

September saw the largest increase between fall 2009 and 2010, with a 21% rise of AskAway sessions during the month. Overall, the busiest month was November.

For additional AskAway evening statistical information, please see the AskAway Portal Evening Statistics page.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

Reece, BC-ELN

Spotlight on Alexander College

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Alexander College is one of two private educational institutions that have recently joined AskAway.  Kat Siddle (AskAway Librarian) visited Alexander College to find out more about one of our newest participating libraries…

With two locations in downtown Vancouver and Burnaby, Alexander College is a private institution that focuses on helping international students enter BC’s post-secondary system and acclimatize to life in Canada. The college is small, but growing: there are presently around 850 students enrolled. Its programs include university transfer credits, Associate of Arts degrees, academic ESL, and pre-MBA courses.

Alexander College pays particular attention to the task of preparing its students for life at other BC post-secondary institutions. This is also true of its library, which has recently made key changes to its collections and web site. These changes vastly increase the library’s web presence, and place it in step with other academic libraries in BC. It will also be easier for AskAway staff to assist Alexander College students. Recently, I spoke to Alexander College librarians Marc Breschuk and Jade Shepherd about the changes.

“We are very pleased with new website,” Breschuk told me. “Our intentions were to better user experience and give students everything they would expect or should expect from a library website.” The new website gives students a preview of the type of site they would use at a university library. It also makes service a little simpler for AskAway service providers, who are now be able to search the catalogue without logging in first.  Less clicking and predictable site organization mean that both students and librarians will be able to find the information they need more quickly.

And now there will be more information to look for: Alexander College recently purchased 15 ELN licenses for databases and indexes in humanities, business, science and art. Previously, Askaway staff handled reference questions from Alexander’s students by finding free online resources. Now they are able to guide students through well-known products like Academic Search Premier and Business Source Premier.  Access to these resources also helps prepare these students for the type of research they will be expected to do as they complete an advanced degree.

While many international students are web-savy, a student’s less-than-fluent English can make communication difficult in a text-only environment like AskAway. Students may have trouble explaining their specific needs, or may have difficulty understanding what you have typed. I asked Jade Shepherd for some tips.

“Our students have a real range of abilities in English. Their mastery of spoken and written communication can vary. Try to approach everyone individually. Rephrase, and express an idea in different ways a few different times. Explain what you’re doing as you’re doing it. Push links and use videos to demonstrate a task.” Jing videos would be an excellent tool for this.

Jade also mentions cultural differences that affect communication. “Students from other cultures may be unwilling to ask for help when they want it, so offer to do the next step with them.”

Alexander College has been part of AskAway for 18 months. With an increased web presence and more online resources, its students now have the opportunity to participate more fully in the service. “We are very happy to be in this partnership,” Jade elaborated. “And we are definitely benefiting from it.”

– Kat Siddle, AskAway Librarian (February 2011)

Form Fields Statistics

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Form fields statistics provide information on how users are accessing AskAway. This includes the type and version of browser and operating system each patron is using and whether they are using a mobile device.

The data provide the referring URL, indicating from which web page users have accessed AskAway. From this information, we can see which institution the users entered from, and which page they were viewing when they initiated a chat session. We can also see whether they have entered AskAway directly from within a database, and whether they are using a qwidget.

Form fields statistics include details such as the length, wait-time and resolution of the call. Additional user-supplied information, such as the type and location of user is available for some calls.

Form fields statistics are available on the AskAway Portal . The posted statistics are for the entire system, but this link also includes instructions for accessing your institution’s form fields statistics. If you have more questions about form fields statistics, feel free to contact me.

— Reece, BC ELN

Strategies for Busy Times!

Monday, March 14th, 2011

We’re getting into the busy part of the term and we’re seeing shifts with 20-30 questions per hour. Here’s a few strategies to help ease the burden on AskAway service providers and stressed patrons during this time of year…

1. Log into Campfire! In Campfire you’re able to quickly communicate with all your AskAway colleagues online.

2. Swamped Scripts. Pick up patrons as quickly as you can, preferably before 60 seconds have passed, and use the swamped scripts to manage patron expectations and queue flow.

3. Login a few minutes early. Login to both QuestionPoint and Campfire a few minutes early. Offering to take transfers and pick-up new questions around shift-change relieves the burden on librarians…

4. Manage your windows. When it is busy, having a number of windows open at the same time can get confusing.  Try using two browsers…

5. Refer, refer, refer! During busy times, you may not have the time to give every patron the in-depth help you’d like to give them.

** Read the full post for more tips and information! **

1. Log into Campfire! In Campfire you’re able to quickly communicate with all your AskAway colleagues online. Update the other service providers with your availability for new questions or transfers and ask for help searching multiple resources on difficult questions! The ability to communicate your status, manage repeat patrons & technical trouble as well as collaborate on patron questions and queue flow is invaluable.

2. Swamped Scripts. Pick up patrons as quickly as you can, preferably before 60 seconds have passed, and use the swamped scripts (Swamped – Short Term & Swamped – Long Term) to manage patron expectations and queue flow. If you have patrons waiting  communicate this in Campfire and any service provider that becomes available for transfers can let you know! Be very clear with the patron about how busy AskAway is and how long they might expect to wait for help.

3. Login a few minutes early. Login to both QuestionPoint and Campfire a few minutes early. Offering to take transfers and pick-up new questions around shift-change relieves the burden on service providers that need to leave as soon as their shift ends. Service providers logging in a few minutes early can also save you from getting stuck long after the end of your shift! A few minutes early can create a seamless experience for patrons and ease a busy burden at shift-change for everyone!

4. Manage your windows.  When it is busy, having a number of windows open at the same time can get confusing.  Try using two browsers: for example, use Internet Explorer for your ‘working’ windows (chat monitor, MyQuestionPoint, Campfire), and Firefox for all your other searching.  It also helps to use a different browser window for each patron, with multiple tabs within that window for your searches for that patron.

5. Refer, refer, refer! During busy times, you may not have the time to give every patron the in-depth help you’d like to give them. If you can’t transfer them to another available AskAway librarian don’t hesitate to refer the patron to email, telephone or in-person reference at their home library. In-depth questions may also be better served by their other available institution and library resources – referral is a very important part of the service we provide! Use the library policy page to supply the patron with as much contact information as you can.

Call for help! If you and your colleagues are feeling overwhelmed, put out a call to the eln-vrefservprov listserv.

–  Sunni

BC ELN

Information about Job Action at VIU and Langara College

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Here’s some links to information updates about the current job action situation at VIU and Langara:

Langara College Strike Action News Updates: http://www.langara.bc.ca/news/2011/110307-lfa-strike-update.html

Vancouver Island University Labour Updates: http://www.viu.ca

Links to free academic resources:

http://askawaybc.pbworks.com/w/page/9921726/Free-Databases

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask Sunni.