Archive for October, 2014

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.

UVic large Biology assignment

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

From Tracie Smith at the UVic Libraries:

Just a heads up, that our 900+ students in BIOL 190A are now embarking on their Formal Lab Report. This report is for their catechol oxidase lab. We suspect some of them may come to AskAway for help.

Students are required to use the Web of Science to find their primary peer reviewed journal articles.

[Apparently, the students are not to be using Summon 2.0 to find their articles].

The subject librarian (Kathleen Matthews  has created a BIOL 190A Subject Guide for this course. See

The student are to use the Biology Departments approved Citing and Referencing Style for Biology Courses. Kathleen added the PDF for this “style guide” to the BIOL 190A Subject Guide at

The formal reports are due, depending on the lab section, from October 27th – October 31st.

Thanks a lot for your help. Please feel free to refer students to our general desk ( or the subject librarian.

Tracie Smith
UVic Libraries

Large Biology assignment at UBC

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Hello AskAwayers,

Thanks everyone in advance for your support with our biology undergraduates. We are starting to see BIOL 140 at our in-person desks and we anticipate they will be visiting AskAway soon too!

The BIOL 140 assignment this term is on saltwater (marine) organisms. Students are looking for information about their organism, its habitat and abiotic factors that affect its growth, survival, reproduction and behavior. A good place to start is the BIOL 140 course page:

We recommend they use Zoological Record and suggest students try a search for the common and scientific names for the organism joined with terms such as habitat OR ecology OR behavior. If a student is not finding very much information about their specific species such as Gnorimosphaeroma oregonensis, try a broader search for the genus Gnorimosphaeroma.

As part of their assignment, the BIOL 140 students first review an online tutorial which covers the search fundamentals for finding books and articles. Their tutorial is open access, available here.

There is also a live online workshop to help BIOL 140 students find the research literature: Wed Oct 15 from 7:00-8:00 PM. We are asking students to register on the BIOL 140 course page ( It will be recorded and available via their online tutorial.

Please let me know if you have any questions! Thanks!

Kind regards,

Katherine Miller, MLIS
Liaison Librarian:  Faculty of Land & Food Systems, and
Faculty of Science undergraduate programs: Biology, Botany, Microbiology & Immunology, Zoology
Woodward Library, UBC

Troubleshooting and procedures

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

After the PLnet outage last week and several reports sent to me about folks having trouble logging in, it may be helpful to have a reminder about how to handle technical problems, forgotten passwords, and login/out procedures.

If you’ve run into any of these problems, please try the solutions below. If problems still occur, contact your local coordinator or the Admin Centre for help.

Trouble logging in

If you’re having trouble connecting to QuestionPoint, make sure you’re using a modern browser.

Internet Explorer is not recommended, and versions 7 and below will not work at all.

If possible, use Chrome or Firefox.

More details on technical troubleshooting can be found on the AskAway staff portal:

Forgotten passwords

If you’ve forgotten your password, you can have it sent to you automatically at the QuestionPoint login screen:

  • At, after you click Librarian Login, click the link beside “Forgot your password?”
  • Enter your user ID (a string of six numbers) to have the password sent to your email address.

There is no way to automatically retrieve your user ID — we recommend writing it down and keeping it within easy reach. Your local coordinator or the Admin Centre can help you retrieve your ID from the system, but having it on hand is the best way to ensure that you can log in on time.

Log-in procedures

A reminder of log-in procedures, including some handy tips, can be found in the Shift Checklist:

If you have a history of technical problems connecting to QuestionPoint, try logging in ahead of your shift to make sure you’re properly set up.

If you wish to just log in for troubleshooting purposes, you can use the practice queue. Instructions for using the practice queue  can be found here:

Logging out

Please be careful to properly log out at the end of your shift. If you don’t log out formally, the system keeps you logged in even after you close the browser.

There have been a few incidents lately when several librarians forgot to log out after their shifts had ended, leaving a chat monitor that looked overpopulated while the shift was actually understaffed due to a missing person. The Admin Centre had to enter these accounts to manually log them out.

It is important to properly exit Campfire as well, since there is a limit to the number of people allowed in the room at once. If several people fail to exit and instead just close the browser window, they may end up blocking others from entering the chat room.

The schedule

The current up-to-date schedule can always be found here:

If there’s any question about when your institution is scheduled, that page provides the answer.

If you’re alone/swamped

If your shift is understaffed, or if you’re simply overwhelmed by students, use the Swamped button to summon help:

Don’t forget to send a Cancel Swamped message once things have calmed down again.

If someone is missing from your shift, please call or email the Admin Centre to let us know. We will follow up with the appropriate people to investigate and try to get the shift staffed ASAP.

If you’ve any questions about AskAway procedures or need more assistance, feel free to contact the Admin Centre.