Improving Chat Reference with Emotional Intelligence

March 8th, 2017

The Florida State Library has shared a webinar they held on emotional intelligence in chat reference, which they offer as part of their library staff training. If you’re interested in a stronger connection with your patrons for better reference outcomes, please have a look:

Preparing for unexpected patrons

February 24th, 2017

As we are now approaching the busy part of the term, it may be helpful to review some tips and recommended procedures for working with unexpected patrons. 

Although it happens rarely, AskAway sometimes receives calls from unexpected patrons. These might include chats with non post-secondary patrons, pranksters, patrons with technical difficulties, or patrons in crisis. The Unexpected Patrons page has best practices and tips to help you be prepared and work with these patrons smoothly.

If you have any questions about these pages or suggestions for improvement, feel free to contact the Admin Centre.

Sending database links to patrons

January 23rd, 2017

A recent message from a service provider:

“I’ve been having intermittent problems sending working links to Ebsco databases to patrons over Askaway. I’ll send a link to search results or a journal article and they will be sent to an Ebsco page where it asks them to pick their server. This is not the database homepage or a university off-campus log in page.”

If you’re running into this kind of problem, you’re probably sending patrons links copied from the address bar in your browser. Those URLs usually do not include institutional proxies, and when patrons follow them from off-campus, they will get redirected.

The solution to this is the Permalink. Databases will typically include permalinks to both articles and search results – you just need to know where to look. The following demonstrate permalinks in EBSCO databases.



Unreliable link via address bar:

Reliable permalink:

Permalinks to journal articles

On the article’s record page, you’ll see a Tools menu in the sidebar. Clicking the Permalink option opens a text box near the top of the page, with a URL to copy. This permalink includes the institution’s proxy information, and will send patrons to the right place without redirection.

Permalinks to search results

You can also send permalinks to search results. On the search result page, click the Share button. Choose Use Permalink, and copy the URL that appears.

Large SFU Psych 100/102 assigment

September 30th, 2016

It’s that time of semester when you may hear from SFU students in Psyc 100 / Psyc 102 looking for research help on their assignments.

Please note that there is a guide for Psyc 100 / Psyc 102. Some students may still need help navigating the databases, as they are mostly first year students new to research and academic databases. I’ve also attached copies of the assignments for your reference.

In Psyc 100, students are required to find two empirical articles in PsycINFO – one non-experimental, and one a true experiment.  In the instructor’s words:

“One of these articles must be based on a true experiment while the other article must be based on a non-experimental study that examines the same general research hypothesis.”

In Psyc 102, researchers are asked to find two articles on the same topic, but as analyzed through two different theoretical perspectives. These perspectives might include Biological, Psychodynamic, Humanist, Cognitive, Behavioural and Sociocultural. Notably, there are also narrower theoretical perspectives within these broad ones; if using one sub-topic, the student should note the broader theoretical view it belongs to. In the instructor’s words:

“Find two articles that you understand well enough that you can determine that they are reporting research on a ‘similar issue’,(same construct), but differ in their underlying theoretical perspectives”

Both Psyc 100 and Psyc 102 students are also limited by date range and alphabet range of the author’s last name.

There is no way to specifically narrow to either a particular perspective or to a true experiment in PsycINFO using the limiters, but adding keywords likely to be associated with a particular perspective (for instance, repress*, dopamine, actualization, etc.) or type of experiment might help narrow large result sets. Suggestions of key words are found in the 100/102 guide.

Notably, the percentage of true experimental versus non-experimental designs will vary by Psychology sub-discipline, but in general, there are fewer true experiments conducted.

Sometimes it just comes down to a matter of understanding the course material in order to interpret the articles; in other words, the student may already have a search results list with both required types, but not know how to distinguish. In these cases, we can’t distinguish for them, but could point them to a psyc handbook, for instance, to help them understand the concept of a true experiment better. Or, they may need to speak with their TAs. Other times, it will indeed be a matter where we can help improve the search and teach them how to use the interface.

Thank you for your help with this assignment.

Assignment Alert: UVic BIOL 184 Library Assignment

September 19th, 2016

The annual Biology lab assignment at UVic is underway – here is a message with various bits of information for you and any UVic students you might come across while chatting. Questions can be directed to the subject librarian – Kathleen Matthews,

The BIOL 184 Library Lab assignment is getting underway and the assignment will be due Oct 3-6.

The PDF of assignment is posted on the BIOL 184 Subject Guide at

This library assignment is the “Get to Know Your Biology Faculty” and focuses on finding  journal articles using the Web of Science and creating a “bibliography/list of references”  using EndNote Basic.

There are about 800+ students in BIOL 184. The assignment worksheet is very detailed and prescriptive so students should really be able to manage this without too much help, assuming they read the instructions.

- via email from Tracie Smith