Librarians From Other Institutions

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

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