Strategies for Busy Times!

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.

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