Archive for May, 2011

Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes & Coordinator’s Report

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

The final version of the minutes from the May 16th AskAway Advisory Committee meeting are now available:

The Coordinator’s Report is available here:

Update and Reminders

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Now that the AskAway summer term is underway, here’s some new developments and reminders for your AskAway shifts:

Qwidgets in EBSCO Databases: Increasingly patrons are accessing AskAway from within EBSCO databases, where Qwidgets show up beside the results lists.  The Referring URL in the Info tab of your chat monitor should tell you whether the patron is coming in from an EBSCO database, although it may not tell you which specific database; look for the… in the Referring URL.  Some AskAway institutions that are using the Qwidget in their EBSCO databases include: UBC, UVic, SFU, Douglas College, BCIT, Camosun College, and Langara College.

Mobile users: Several libraries have implemented mobile library websites with links to the AskAway Qwidget e.g. Vancouver Island University, SFU , College of the Rockies.  The Qwidget will automatically optimize to suit the patron’s mobile device.  To find out if a patron is using a mobile device, look for the word ‘mobile’ in the Browser/OS information for the call (in the Info tab of the chat monitor).  If you are helping a patron using a mobile device, remember to break your responses into short chunks so there is less chance they take up more than one screen’s worth.  You can still send URLs to mobile patrons, but it may take them more time to return to you once they click on the link.

P2P file-sharing or torrent sites: In a genuine effort to find an elusive resource for a patron, it may be tempting to refer them to a peer-to-peer file-sharing or torrent download site such as LimeTorrents or Torrentz.  Besides the potential copyright infringement issues, downloading P2P/torrent software or files may result in exposure of the patron’s computer to malware or inadvertent disclosure of personal information.  For these reasons it is never an acceptable practise to refer the patron to a P2P or torrent site on AskAway.

Patron privacy: This is one of the most important things to remember on your shifts.  To protect our patron’s privacy, we must make every effort to ensure that their personal information (email, phone number, name, student ID number, etc.) is not captured in the transcript.  Instead, offer your contact information, or provide as much information in the referral as you can so the patron can follow up.  If you are using a tool such as JoinMe to share desktops with a patron, please ensure that it is YOUR desktop being shared, not the patron’s.

Log into Campfire! Please don’t forget to log into Campfire during your shifts – AskAwayers have continued to express frustration at their colleagues who aren’t monitoring Campfire during their shifts.  If you aren’t on Campfire, you aren’t sharing your expertise on tricky or local knowledge questions, you don’t know about tech troubles others are experiencing, and you don’t know when someone needs you to take a call for them, etc..  We can all provide better service for our patrons by ensuring we are communicating with the other folks ‘on the desk’.  If you’re not sure what your Campfire login is, please contact me.

Sunni, BC ELN

Ready, Set, Go!

Monday, May 16th, 2011

AskAway opens for the summer term on Monday, May 16th.  Here’s a couple of tips to help you get off to a running start:

1.  Get familiar with the Staff Portal again.  This is where you’ll find links to all the tools you need to staff your shift (QP login, Campfire login, scripts, library guest logins, policy pages, etc.).

2.  Make sure your Campfire login works.  Campfire is the group chat AskAwayers use to chat with colleagues during their shifts – it is an essential tool for communicating quickly with everyone about technical issues, traffic management, tricky questions, and it can be fun for getting to know your fellow AskAwayers!  To make sure your Campfire login works, visit  If you are unable to login, let me know.

3.  Browse through the recent posts here on the AskAway Blog.  You’ll find tips on picking up patrons, handling patrons in crisis, what those mysterious patron status indicators mean, what to do with those lost calls, and lots more.  Have an idea for something you’d like to see a blog post on?  Let me know!

4.  Practise with yourself or a colleague.  Instructions for practising are available here:

As always, if you have any questions, let me know!



Form Fields Statistics for March and April

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Form fields statistics for March and April are now available on the Statistics by Institution page of the AskAway Portal.

Form fields statistics provide information on how users are accessing AskAway. This includes the type of browser and operating system each patron is using and the web page they accessed AskAway from. These statistics also provide the wait time and resolution of each call. User-supplied information, such as the course and location of the user is available for some calls.

Form fields statistics are displayed as a single document for the entire service, but are organized by institution, making it possible to get an overall view of AskAway, as well as information for individual institutions.

Please contact me if you have any questions or comments about these statistics.

— Reece, BC ELN