Archive for September, 2011

Summer Term Form Fields Statistics Available

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Form fields statistics for May through August are now available on the Statistics by Institution page of the AskAway Portal.

Form fields statistics provide information about how users are accessing AskAway, including the website and specific page AskAway was accessed from. These stats also include the wait time and resolution of each call, operating system and other details.

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.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact me.

— Reece, BC ELN

Get Acquainted with Chat Lingo!

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Communicating online in AskAway can be a challenge at times – particularly when students use unfamiliar chat lingo that we may not recognise!

Ever stumped by someone using IMO [in my opinion]? Stymied by a student typing BRB [be right back]? Deterred by a student going AFK [away from keyboard]?

Don’t be hampered by not knowing the lingo! Check-out the updated Chat Terminology web page for the top 10 most likely to be encountered in AskAway as well as links to other online resources for chat lingo, emoticons and urban terminology we may encounter…

UBC Engineering Students on AskAway

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011


Starting with this week, we are teaching approximately 1,800 engineering students in a number of big classes – Engineering Cases (APSC 150), Engineering Communication (APSC 176) and Technical Communication (APSC 201).

If you get those students coming to you, please help them by starting with our SciEng homepage – where you will see links to the appropriate course pages – APSC 150, APSC 201, APSC 176 and APSC 262.

Please refer any questions you may have with these folks my way.

Many thanks,


Eugene Barsky
Science & Engineering Librarian, University of British Columbia

Network Speeds Refresher

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

This is a refresher about an ongoing topic when working with so many different libraries around the region: differing network speeds.

If you notice you’re picking up calls more frequently than others, you probably have a faster network speed, and may become aware of AskAway users several seconds before other librarians on AskAway. It can be difficult to hold back when you know there is a person waiting with a question, but it’s quite possible that holding back could help to provide a better overall AskAway experience. On the other end of the spectrum, you may notice you are unable to pick up calls because they have been claimed before you had the opportunity to pick them up.

In either situation, Campfire is a useful tool for communicating with other librarians that you believe one of you may have a faster or slower network speed.

One option is to transfer a call if you pick one up before realizing that perhaps another librarian didn’t have the chance to do so. Use Campfire to initiate transferring a call, or to offer to take a transfer.

If you seem to have a faster network speed, you can always take the time to read the question before picking up the call, and check which institution it is from- this may give another librarian working with you the time to hear the call come in.

For more tips, feel free to revisit the earlier post on this subject: Network Speeds – Tips

– Reece, BC ELN

Librarians From Other Institutions

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Some questions have come up about what to do when patrons believe AskAway librarians are always from their institution. From a service perspective there is nothing wrong with letting users know that AskAway is serviced by BC and Yukon librarians and that they are talking to a librarian from a different institution. If they are asking for local information, which is when their mistaken belief is most likely to be evident, they may be more patient if they realize the librarian they are talking to is from another institution, and understand why it takes a few moments to check and see whether their library is open, etc.
Additionally, we want to avoid users making the assumption that a librarian from another institution they can’t help them – if they seem discouraged, assure them we can always take them the first step in the research process or refer them to someone who can help them.

There are a couple of scripts that touch on this topic:
Ref – Referral (Advanced question) This is an advanced question. I may be able to find some resources that will help you, but I may have to refer you to a subject specialist at your library.

Refer – Home Library I will do my best to find some resources to help you with your question, but I may have to refer you to a subject specialist librarian at your home library for additional information.

Feel free to tweak these so they are relevant for your situation, of course.

There has been some positive feedback from students who were surprised to find out that librarians on AskAway were not from their institution:

“I didn’t realize where this service was provided from! I thought it was librarians in the SFU library, but I gathered from this chat that they were external. But both times I’ve used this service they were very familiar with our library and were able to help me.” — Simon Fraser University graduate learner

“Service was prompt and knowledgeable. I had no idea the librarian wasn’t at my college though!” –Okanagan College learner

As always, feel free to contact me with questions or comments.

— Reece, BC ELN