Archive for November, 2017

Refresher: Resolution and Descriptive Codes

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

At the end of a chat session, you have the opportunity to add Resolution and Descriptive codes to your chat. By adding these codes, you help us track technical issues with the service and give a clear picture of why patrons are coming to AskAway and the kind of help you are providing them.

Below, you’ll find a quick refresher on how to apply resolution and descriptive codes.

Adding a Resolution Code

Resolution codes allow us to track technical problems and to exclude practice calls from AskAway statistics.

Add only 1 of the following resolution codes:

Answered: For all sessions unless one of the other two codes apply. Even if you referred the student or did not fully answer the question, use this code.

Lost Call: If you think there was some technical reason why the patron disappeared abruptly or unexpectedly.

Practice: If you’re practicing or testing the service.

Please do not use any of the other resolution codes. If you referred a patron, use the Referred or Referred to Home Library descriptive codes.

How to add a resolution code.

Adding a resolution code


Adding Descriptive Codes

Descriptive codes help us understand how students use AskAway and what kind of help you are providing them. This information allows us to respond to learners’ needs at the service level. Thanks to descriptive codes, we know that approximately 40% of AskAway questions are related to research and 10% are questions about accessing eResources.

You can add up to 4 descriptive codes per session. For example, if you have a research question and during the chat you help the student with an interlibrary loan and at the end of the chat refer them to their liaison librarian, you would add the following codes: Research, Interlibrary Loan, Referred to Home Library.

The AskAway staff website has more information about descriptive codes, including definitions for each.

Adding descriptive codes.

Adding a descriptive code


Questions about resolution or descriptive codes? Feel free to contact me at the AskAway Admin Centre.

Answering Citation Questions with Marjory Jardine

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Did you know that between 15-20% of questions that come to AskAway are citation questions?

To learn more about answering citation questions, we interviewed Marjory Jardine, an AskAway service provider at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC), who has a knack for answering APA questions. Marjory shares what she enjoys about chat reference and citations, tips for tricky citation questions, and some of her favourite guides.

Hi Marjory. Can you introduce yourself?

Hi there. I work as a Reference and Instruction Librarian at JIBC. Prior to working at JIBC, I worked in special libraries (forest products, health care) and a part-time stint at SFU.

How long have you staffed AskAway and what do you enjoy about the work?

Believe it or not, I think I was one of the inaugural “chat reference” librarians when Ask Us Live was introduced as a shared service between SFU and UVIC in 2005. It was such a new concept at the time, it was fun to be involved! My background wasn’t strong on citations, so it was a great way to get thrown into it!

I enjoy AskAway for many reasons: the variety of questions, learning about other institutions and their resources and services, helping students from different places, the collegiality of all the AskAwayers – couldn’t find a nicer bunch of online colleagues!

I’ve heard that you look forward to citation questions. What do you enjoy about helping with citations on AskAway?

Yes, I admit it, although it is kind of weird to look forward to citation questions.

What do I like about them? If they are APA, I feel pretty comfortable as I know there are so many great guides out there. I like the many teachable moments that come with citation questions. Students are usually so thankful for the support – often, they are on the right track but just need a bit of help refining their citations. And, sometimes, they are way off-track, and it’s fun to see the lightbulb go on when we can steer them in the right direction.

I like that I often learn something new with each question. Seeing the types of questions that students have helps me help them (and our JIBC students) better in the future. If I start to see a trend for a type of citation, or one I’ve never come across, I’ll make a note to add that example to our APA Subject Guide.

Other styles are a bit tougher for me, as we only use APA at the JIBC. Luckily, we have print copies of MLA and Chicago I can refer to. I really rely on college/university guides for the non-APA questions!

How do you approach citation questions on AskAway?

I breathe a sigh of relief if it’s APA. If it’s a different style, I usually head to the shelf, grab the appropriate manual, then open the online guide from the student’s college/university.

I ask lots of clarifying questions such as “where did you find the resource (print, online, database)?” If the student can provide me with a direct link, I will look it up so that I know I am looking at the same thing.

I usually provide explanations if it’s something the student might question. For example, in APA, why is the date shown differently for books/journals vs newspapers/magazines? Or, why do you sometimes provide a retrieval date and other times not? I find that students actually like to know some of the background behind the guidelines.

Do you have any tips to share with service providers who are answering tricky citation questions?

Sometimes an exact example will not be available, so use your best judgment and combine several examples.

Remember that one main point of citation is to show your reader where you found the information. As long as that is covered, then you are well on your way.

This is my favorite quote from one of the APA Style Blog Experts, Paige Jackson, on September 24, 2009. Although Paige is referring to a specific question on when to use a homepage URL or a full document URL, I think the comment is valid in many situations:

Don’t belabor the issue – make an informed guess … and move on!

Never hurts to ask a colleague if they are sitting next to you or of course through Campfire.

Beyond your library’s citation guides, what are some of your favorite guides or websites that you would recommend to AskAwayers?

Thanks Marjory!

As always, if you have any questions or tips to share, contact the AskAway Admin Centre.

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!