Liaison Meetings

Here are the Liaison Meeting dates and locations we have coming up. If you'd like to host a liaison meeting, please contact the AUN Statewide Coordinator.

Unless otherwise specified, all meetings run from 10:30am to 1:00pm.  See also the Liaison Meeting Ground Rules.

If you are participating in our meeting online, click here to connect to Blackboard Collaborate





Audio Troubleshooting in Blackboard Collaborate.doc45 KB
BBC tip sheet.pdf306.35 KB

Meeting Pages and Notes 2011-2016

December 2016 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Orleans Street Branch, Enoch Pratt Free Library, 1303 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

View Larger Map



Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


There is free parking in the library's parking lot.


Orleans is  three blocks from Lombard Street i.e. Corn Beef Row (see below for list of Deli's), there's a Burger King across the Street and a Popeyes three blocks from the library (corner Broadway and Orleans).

Attman's Authentic NY Deli
1019 E. Lombard St

Lenny's Deli of Lombard St.
1150 e. Lombard St


Meeting_Notes_120716.pdf324.49 KB

September 2016 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Time:  10:30 am-1:00 pm

South Bowie Branch, Prince George's County Memorial Library System

15301 Hall Road, Bowie, MD 20721

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Virtual Attendees:  We'll be using WebEx.  The WebEx link will be emailed within a week of the meeting.


Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


Free public parking is available.



092116_LiaisonMeeting_Minutes.pdf309.65 KB

June 2016 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Time:  10:30 am-1:00 pm

Lewis J. Ort Library, Frostburg State University

1 Susan Eisel Drive Frostburg, MD 21532

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Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


Parking is available on campus. No parking pass is required. See attached campus map for further information.


Recommendations by our host:


FSU-Campus-Map.pdf1.35 MB
Classroom_Toolkit_Draft_052416.pdf809.37 KB
061616_LiaisonMeeting_Minutes.pdf320.97 KB

March 2016 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Time:  10:30 am-1:00 pm

Calvert Library Prince Frederick, 850 Costley Way, Prince Frederick, MD 20678

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Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


Parking is free.


The group lunch will be at Panera Bread.

More nearby lunch options are attached.


Restaurants near Calvert Library.docx13.71 KB
March2016_MeetingMinutes.pdf372.05 KB

December 2015 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Time:  10:30 am-1:00 pm

Location: C. Burr Artz Public Library, 110 E Patrick St, Frederick, MD



Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


Street parking is very limited. Please plan to park in the Carroll Creek garage next to the library. Parking is free for the first two hours with validation.


The Orchard Restaurant


121715_LiaisonMeetingMinutes_AUN.docx25.13 KB
121715_LiaisonMeeting.pdf497.79 KB
SeptemberDecember2015_QualityControl.docx18.59 KB

June 2015 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Time:  10:30 am-1:00 pm

Albert S. Cook Library (Room 507), Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, MD 21252

View Larger Map



Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


Parking is available on the bottom level of the Glen Parking Garage. 

On the Campus Map, this parking garage is on the lower right side. Cook Library is just North of it.


The following restaurants are nearby:


Meet and Mingle @ 10-10:30 AM

Introductions/Announcements and Approval of the March 2015 Liaison Meeting Notes

Around the Room Discussion

QuestionPoint Updates

Transcript Review and Recognition


  • 2-3 New Staff Training Host Sites:  September-November 2015
  • 2016 Liaison Meeting Hosts
  • Sending in "Chat Requests, Accepts, and Answers Sent" Reports to the AskUsNow! Admins.
  • Committee Members

FY15 Projects:

  • Internship/Volunteer Program
  • New Staff and Refresher Training
  • Inner Harbor Website Redesign
  • Targeted Promotion and Marketing
    • Statewide Marketing Strategies
    • Social Media
  • School Partnerships

Adjournment @ 1 PM

Cook Library Tour (Optional)

June 9, 2015 Meeting Notes

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Towson University, Cook Library



  • Paul Chasen, Maryland AskUsNow! Statewide Coordinator
  • Becca Starr, SLRC/Maryland AskUsNow! Support for Operations
  • Debbie Barlow, Howard County Library System
  • Joyce Garczynski, Towson University
  • Erika Hodge Harris, Community College of Baltimore County
  • Chris McGee, Allegany County Public Library
  • Tracy Miller, Harford County Public Library
  • Stephanie Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library
  • Susan Pluhar, Enoch Pratt Free Library
  • Laksamee Putnam, Towson University
  • Sue Tinanoff, Baltimore County Public Library

Virtually Present

  • Suzie Kuch, Charles County Public Library
  • Metta Lash, Montgomery College
  • Janice Lathrop, Anne Arundel Community College
  • Theresa Mastrodonato, Frostburg State University
  • Catherine McGuire, Maryland State Law Library
  • Christy McKinney, Carroll County Public Library
  • Dale Pastor, Montgomery County Public Library
  • Ellen Ruoff, Calvert County Public Library
  • Sara Stephenson, St. Mary’s County Public Library
  • Jan Thomas, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Melissa Van Schaick, Frederick County Public Library

Notified Absence

  • Liz Beere, Carroll Community College
  • Mou Chakraborty, Salisbury University Blackwell Library
  • Lori Guenthner, Maryland Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
  • John Krivak/Josie Fiore, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System
  • Karen Neville, Worcester County Library
  • Marilyn Pontius, Washington County Free Library


March 2015 Minutes

Meeting notes from March 2015 were approved. Laksamee Putnam motioned, Debbie Barlow seconded.


Around the Room Discussion

  • Susan (EPFL) - Renovation of the State Library Resource Center is approaching. Two new providers were trained to provide AskUsNow!, while one other is in the process of being trained.
  • Debbie (Howard) - Howard County Library System is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. In mid-May 2015, they launched a new website. A PIN is now required for database access; Debbie updated the policy page to reflect this change.
  • Tracy (Harford County Public Library) - Three providers and an intern completed AskUsNow! training. Tracy also added information about Harford’s passport services to their policy page.
  • Joyce and Laksamee (Towson) - Towson University is celebrating its 150th anniversary. An exhibit showcasing the university’s history is traveling around the state. Librarians at Cook Library are reducing their collection by 50,000 volumes.
  • Sue (BCPL) - Librarians on their Virtual Services Committee are being rotated. New providers are being trained and will be start on July 1, 2015.
  • Chris (Allegany) - Allegany’s service hours will be changing to single-shift days. Once he has more information, he will update the policy page to reflect these changes.
  • Stephanie (AACPL) - Anne Arundel is facing budgetary changes. Stephanie will know about any potential impact soon.
  • Erika (CCBC) - Librarians are working on weeding their collection. Her library is involved with information literacy instruction discussions happening around the state.
  • Catherine (MSLL) - Catherine is hoping to train other law librarians to assist with QuestionPoint follow up. The library is now logging in under a second QuestionPoint queue to become visible to academic libraries during chat. In order to help providers make informed decisions on when to send a question to followup by her library, Catherine also offered to draft some sample questions showing law research vs. people’s law questions to share with the listserv.
  • Dale (MCPL) - Reported online service problems since moving to the cloud and thanked group for patience while they worked out any problems. Dale also reminded the group that she is part-time. She will followup with AskUsNow! with information about a backup librarian.
  • Christy (Carroll County) - Her library was recently able to market services to 4th and 5th graders, teachers, and parents during a Battle of the Books event. She is also talking with library administration about implementing the Qwidget.
  • Ellen (Calvert) - Calvert now has a team devoted to social media and marketing. She is also working to implement the Qwidget on their website.
  • Jan (NOAA) - Jan reminded the group that he is available to answer questions related to NOAA products, weather/climate, and fisheries. He is the only librarian who staffs chat at this time.
  • Janice (AACC) - Thanked AskUsNow! for covering extra hours while their library director was absent.
  • Melissa (FCPL) - They were recently able to promote AskUsNow! at a high school visit and for their Summer of Wonder Program (information is on the policy page). They’re in the process of trying to add another global hour to their schedule.
  • Metta (Montgomery College) - The library is migrating to new LibGuides and rolling out EDS. A Qwidget will be added to the LibGuides site.
  • Suzie (Charles County) -  Reported recent staffing changes.
  • Theresa (Frostburg) - Statistics show that majority of chat questions come from their EDS Qwidget. Frostburg is starting a full inventory of the collection this summer.
  • Sara (St. Mary’s) - Sara was introduced as the new liaison for St. Mary’s. She will be their Virtual Services Coordinator as of July 1st. She is continuing AskUsNow! promotion and is researching Qwidget implementation.
    • Paul thanked Amy Ford for serving as AskUsNow! liaison for 6 years. She will continue to serve as their backup librarian for the service.


QuestionPoint Updates

  • A user interface refresh will occur on approximately June 14th. The look of QuestionPoint will be modernized and clean. The refresh will affect everything except for the chat screen.  AskUsNow! Administration will find out if the policy pages will receive a refresh or not.
  • AskUsNow! has been testing Shift Planning - new scheduling software - with QuestionPoint.
    • Liaisons need to review their QP administrative accounts and delete any providers who are no longer active.  Removing inactive accounts will help AskUsNow! Administration determine if we will be able to give providers and liaisons equal access to the scheduling software.


Transcript Review and Recognition

  • Becca addressed the need for liaisons to nominate transcripts beyond AskUsNow! Administration picking the transcripts. At this time, just send the transcript by email to Becca. 
  • The transcript review team will continue to recognize liaison chat transcripts, which were originally not reviewed for recognition.
  • Quarterly AskUsNow! awards were given to Cassie Koldewyn at St. Mary's County Library, Susie Misleh at PGCMLS, and Kate Boeree at AACPL. They will each receive a gift card.



New Staff Training Host Sites

AskUsNow! requested 2-3 host sites for new staff training from September-November 2015. Suggested training sites included:

  • BCPL North Point training room
  • AACPL Odenton lab (computers will need to be tested first for QP compatibility)
  • PGCC (Largo) - Erika knows the director and can contact
  • Towson - Labs are usually available during the summer and January

2016 Liaison Meeting Hosts

AskUsNow! requested liaison meeting hosts for FY16. Suggested sites included:

  • March - Calvert County (Ellen will check with branch manager)
  • June - Frostburg State University (Theresa will check for availability)
  • Debbie will review Howard County’s new building for meeting space.


AskUsNow! requested that liaisons gather monthly statistics for Chat Sessions Requested, Chat Sessions Accepted, and Answers Sent.  Statistics will only be reviewed by AskUsNow! Administration and will not be widely disseminated.  Partner library statistics will be reviewed by AskUsNow! Administration to make plans on how to improve usage.  


AskUsNow! assembled two standing committees (Transcript Review, Social Media) and two ad-hoc committees (Online Marketing and Brand Language) to generate ideas and achieve promotional goals.

AskUsNow! assigned partner libraries to serve on these committees. Members can be the library liaison, an AskUsNow! provider, or a library employee who holds expertise in their particular category. Liaisons should provide the name of their chosen committee member to AskUsNow! by June 26th.

More information about committees will be provided to liaisons in the coming weeks.


FY15 Projects

Intern and Volunteer Program

Two interns (Michelle Izuka at the Harford County Public Library and Megan Kellner at AskUsNow! Administration) and two volunteers (Liz Mason and Kendra Frost, both at AskUsNow! Administration) will start to provide chat this summer.  Michelle and Megan will also be working on projects.  Kendra is recently retired from the Harford County Public Library and was an AskUsNow! Liaison.

New Staff Refresher Training

13 new providers were recently trained during a session held at BCPL.

The training being held at SMRLA currently has 9 out of 10 seats filled.

Refresher Training

AskUsNow! announced there will be refresher training online called “Tough Customers in Review.”  Participants will discuss anonymous chat transcripts covering a variety of topics.

Trainings are scheduled for July 7th, July 21st, and August 4th. All trainings will cover the same material, and it will be worth 1.5 CEs.

Inner Harbor Redesign

Paul thanked those who contributed to Inner Harbor inventory - Becca, AskUsNow! administration, Cecelia Thomas (St. Mary’s), Joe Ruff (Calvert), and Melissa Van Schaick (FCPL).

Paul is currently working with the State Library Resource Center’s Web Department to determine what pages to keep in the inventory.

Targeted Promotion and Marketing

  • Social Media
    • Create daily content and sporadic campaigns, focused on current events, for AskUsNow!’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and potentially Instagram.
    • Review social media analytics and revise content based on identified trends.
    • The committee with be assisting Becca and Paul on the social media content and organization.  More information about the committee will be posted in mid-June.
  • Marketing Plan
    • AskUsNow will be using all online strategies - complemented with a small number of handouts - to market the service. Options currently being explored include:
      • An e-newsletter
      • Visual representations, such as infographics
      • Telling the AskUsNow! story through blog posts
    • Goals of AskUsNow!’s marketing plan include an increase in AskUsNow! usage and search engine optimization to make the service more visible.
    • It was suggested during the meeting that AskUsNow! provide pre-made posts to send to libraries for social media purposes. Paul agreed to explore this option.

Action Items


  • Reviews QP administrative accounts and delete any providers who are no longer active.
  • Provides the name of their chosen committee member to AskUsNow! by June 26th.
  • Sites identified for new staff training and liaison meeting hosting confirm availability.
  • Catherine (MSLL) - Drafts law research vs. people’s law question examples to share on the listserv.
  • Dale (MCPL) - Contacts AskUsNow! with information about a backup librarian.

AskUsNow! Administration

  • Send detailed information about committees to liaisons in mid-June.
  • Send more information about partner libraries sending statistics to AskUsNow! Administration by the end of June.  The statistics will not be sent until August, which means the July 2015 statistics will be the first statistics.
  • Contact QuestionPoint to find out the difference between statistics for Answers Sent and Questions Claimed.
  • Continues the review and redevelopment of the Inner Harbor.

AskUsNow! wishes to thank Laksamee Putnam, Joyce Garczynski, and Cook Library for hosting the liaison meeting.

Notes compiled by Rebecca Starr

September 2015 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Time:  10:30 am-1:00 pm

Abingdon Branch, Harford County Public Library, 2510 Tollgate Road, Abingdon, MD 21009

View Larger Map



Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


Parking is free.


The following restaurants are nearby:

Agenda (with Approximate Times)

  • 10:30-10:40 am:  Welcome and Approval of June 2015 Liaison Meeting Minutes
  • 10:40-10:55 am:  DLDS Update 
  • 10:55-11:30 am:  Around the Room:  Quality Control (with a focus on Circulation/Library Account Questions)
  • 11:30-11:35 am:  Descriptive Codes
  • 11:35-11:45 am:  Break
  • 11:45 am-12:05 pm:  Statistical Sampling
  • 12:05 pm-12:20 pm:  ShiftPlanning
  • 12:20 pm-12:45 pm:  Committees:
    • Social Media
    • Brand Language
  • 12:45-12:55 pm:  Training
  • 12:55-1:00 pm:  Wrap-Up
  • 1:00 pm:  Optional:  Branch tour, including the Innovation Lab:

September 2015 Meeting Minutes

September 8, 2015

Harford County Public Library, Abingdon Branch

10:30 am-1:00 pm



  • Paul Chasen, Maryland AskUsNow! Statewide Coordinator
  • Becca Starr, SLRC/Maryland AskUsNow! Support for Operations
  • Dennis Nangle, DLDS
  • Lori Guenther, LBPH
  • Chris McGee, Allegany CLS
  • Tracy Miller, HCPL
  • Jenny Novacescu, HCPL
  • Stephanie Petruso, AACPL
  • Susan Pluhar, EPFL
  • Laksamee Putnam, Towson
  • Sue Tinanoff, BCPL

Virtually Present

  • Debbie Barlow, HCLS
  • Liz Beere, CCC
  • Suzie Bell, Cecil CPL
  • Shak Dhanesar, CCBC
  • Suzie Kuch, Charles CPL
  • Metta Lash, Montgomery College
  • Jim Lynch, BCCC
  • Theresa Mastrodonato, Frostburg State
  • Catherine McGuire, MSLL
  • Christy McKinney, CCPL
  • James Neal, PGCMLS
  • Dale Pastor, MCPL
  • Marilyn Pontius, WCFL
  • Ellen Ruoff, Calvert
  • Jan Thomas, NOAA
  • Melissa Van Schaick, Frederick CPL

Notified Absence

  • Janice Lathrop, AACC
  • Karen Neville, Worcester
  • Laura Powell, Caroline
  • Sara Stephenson, St. Mary’s


Welcome/AskUsNow! in Review

Paul shared that usage of AskUsNow! has increased over the past three months. We have also increased our statewide service hours by approximately ten hours/week.

Two libraries have new liaisons:  Jenny Novacescu with Harford County Public Library and James Neal with PGCMLS. Paul thanked Tracy Miller (HCPL) and John Krivak (PGCMLS) for serving as interim liaisons.

The majority of AskUsNow! questions arrive via  qwidget, accounting for 58% of incoming chat questions from Maryland residents. Calvert Library and University of Maryland Eastern Shore recently implemented the qwidget on their websites, bringing the number of libraries who offer it up to 15.

AskUsNow! will also continue expanding its initiative of marketing to K-12 schools and colleges.


June 2015 Minutes

Meeting notes from June 2015 were approved. Debbie Barlow motioned, Sue Tinanoff seconded.

As mentioned in the prior minutes, Catherine agreed to supply examples of law questions the library can answer. These would be sent out to the listserv to assist providers in forwarding the correct types of law questions. 


Dennis Nangle: DLDS Update

Dennis shared key updates from DLDS. They are currently focusing on how library data can tell a statewide story. DLDS is restructuring the Public Library Survey to allow libraries to report data covering uniform topics. AskUsNow! is also moving toward a data-driven service, measuring the depth of reference questions rather than just the number of transactions.

DLDS is refreshing its marketing and outreach efforts. Dennis hopes to be able to offer training on marketing for “non-marketers” in the near future. 


Circulation and Account Questions

Liaisons had a group discussion about how we can best provide a uniform level of service to patrons with library card account questions. How can we organize our policy pages to assist providers without cluttering them with information that can be found easily on the website?

Key points of the discussion included:

  • Providers should try to take customers as far as they can through their questions, providing basic information on library card account requirements and policies.
  • Policy pages should remain uncluttered. However, liaisons should ensure all links on their policy pages work and provide the most current information. 
  • Any popular circulation questions that are not easily accessible or available on the website - such as default PIN numbers, information on family accounts, or reciprocal borrowing agreements - should be added to the policy page.
  • Library card account information - such as library card and PIN numbers - cannot be given out over chat.
  • AskUsNow! administration will occasionally provide suggestions and templates for laying out policy page sections.


Descriptive Codes

In August 2015, AskUsNow! updated their descriptive codes to reflect current question trends and statistical needs. The last large overhaul of descriptive codes took place in January 2012. 
Based on review of these descriptive codes, the majority of questions received from Maryland customers in August concerned  library card accounts, programs and services, and personal interest inquiries. 
Based on this data and our new descriptive codes, AskUsNow! will strategize marketing efforts to reach audiences interested in ebooks, job and career information, and additional library services (such as interlibrary loan).

Prior to our meeting break, Debbie Barlow announced that as of October 9, 2015,  Howard County Library System will no longer be an AskUsNow! partner. AskUsNow! thanked Howard County for their support of the service.


Statistical Sampling

After reviewing the first week of statistics collected (August 9 - August 15, 2015), Paul shared the following trends:

AskUsNow! providers received mostly Level 2 questions (basic reference and circulation).
On average, customers asked approximately 1.66 questions per session.

Paul provided some tips and reminders for the next round of statistical sampling:

  • Count both Global and Local queue questions.
  • Count questions asked during chat sessions, not those sent via email.
  • Liaisons can use any strategy to collect and tally statistics internally, but should send statistics to AskUsNow! on the provided template.
  • Include questions that begin with an immediate disconnection as a Level 1 question. 
  • Not every question needs to end with a question mark. If a customer needs to confirm a library’s location or hours, be sure to count that request as well.

Liaisons shared the diverse ways they collect statistics. Some liaisons review transcripts and mark the number of questions themselves. Others offer a paper or web form to allow providers to track their own questions. 


Social Media

The Social Media Committee has met twice to discuss social media campaigns, post ideas, and social media accounts. Two new campaigns AskUsNow! has implemented are:

  •  #tbt - Draws attention to questions from years prior (2006 to approximately 2013) that are quirky, showcase obsolete technology, or have a fun, trivia-like answer. 
  • School Drive - Making contact with school districts via social media to welcome students and teachers back to school.

Becca shared a list of pre-made social media posts that liaisons can push to their library’s social media administrators. The posts aim to drive customers to individual library “Ask-a-Librarian” pages or qwidgets for assistance.



AskUsNow!’s most recent online training opportunity, “Tough Customers in Review”, received 50 participants. AskUsNow! received helpful feedback from participants, and is currently exploring other options for this training, including creating a self-paced “train the trainer” opportunity. AskUsNow! will add a recording of one of the sessions to the Inner Harbor.

AskUsNow! aims to host another training in early 2016.



Paul thanked liaisons for exploring ShiftPlanning in its early stages. AskUsNow! has been one of the first services added to ShiftPlanning, and QuestionPoint advised it is still a work in progress.

AskUsNow! is still exploring options to allow providers to have a smooth ShiftPlanning user experience (such as individual logins). 

Paul advised that if a library has back-to-back shifts, the first provider can clock in and remain clocked in until the last provider of the day clocks out.


Next Meeting

The next liaison meeting will be held on December 8, 2015 at the C. Burr Artz Public Library (Frederick County).


Thank You

Thank you to Tracy Miller, Jenny Novacescu, and the staff of the Abingdon Branch Library for hosting this meeting.


Action Items


  • Send liaisons  the latest Branding Language Committee meeting updates
  • Becca creates a guide on how to run reports within specific date ranges to assist liaisons in reviewing transcripts for statistical sampling
  • Review ShiftPlanning account levels to determine what can (and cannot) be done within library-level accounts


  • Update policy pages to include pertinent circulation information and links
  • Catherine (MSLL) agreed to supply examples of law questions the library can answer
  • Share pre-made social media posts with social media administrators
  • Contact Paul and Becca with any continuing questions about statistical sampling and ShiftPlanning

Notes compiled by Becca Starr

March 2015 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Time:  10:30 am-1:00 pm

Mount Airy Branch Library, Carroll County Public Library, 705 Ridge Avenue, Mount Airy, MD 21771

View Larger Map


Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


There is free parking in the library's parking lot.


The following restaurants are nearby (and more restaurants are around them):


Meet and Mingle @ 10-10:30 AM

Introductions/Announcements and Approval of the December 2014 Meeting Notes

Around the Room Discussion

QuestionPoint Updates

FY15 Projects

  • Internship/Volunteer Program
  • New Staff and Refresher Training
  • Inner Harbor Website Redesign
  • Targeted Promotion and Marketing
    • Statewide Marketing Plan
    • Online Visibility
    • Social Media
  • School Partnerships

Transcript Review Team

Site Visits

Next Liaison Meeting Information

  • Who is interested in hosting the September 2015 Liaison Meeting?
  • Who is interested in hosting the December 2015 Liaison Meeting?

Adjournment @ 1 PM

Mount Airy Branch Library Tour (Optional)

March 10, 2015 Meeting Notes

March 10, 2015

Carroll County Public Library, Mount Airy Branch



  • Paul Chasen, Maryland AskUsNow! Statewide Coordinator
  • Becca Starr, SLRC/Maryland AskUsNow! Support for Operations
  • Liz Beere, Carroll CC
  • Kendra Frost, Harford CPL
  • Erika Hodge Harris, CCBC
  • Chris McGee, Allegany CLS
  • Christy McKinney, Carroll CPL
  • Tracy Miller, Harford CPL
  • Susan Pluhar, SLRC
  • Sue Tinanoff, BCPL

Virtually Present

  • Suzy Bell, Cecil CPL
  • Shak Dhanesar, CCBC
  • Joyce Garczynski, Towson
  • Suzie Kuch, Charles CPL
  • Metta Lash, Montgomery College Library
  • Janice Lathrop, AACC
  • Dale Pastor, MCPL
  • Stephanie Petruso, AACPL
  • Marilyn Pontius, WCFL
  • Ellen Ruoff, Calvert
  • Melissa Van Schaick, Frederick CPL
  • Cathy Wetmore, MCPL

Notified Absence

  • Debbie Barlow, Howard CPL
  • Amy Ford, St. Mary’s
  • Catherine McGuire, MSLL
  • Karen Neville, Worcester
  • Laura Powell, Caroline CPL
  • Andrea Sleek, Allegany College


December 2014 Minutes

Meeting notes from December 2014 were approved. Erika Harris motioned, Sue Tinanoff seconded.


Introductions and Around the Room Discussion

Paul asked group members to share how long they served as an AskUsNow! liaison, in addition to any announcements or discussion topics.

  • Janice Lathrop (AACC): Liaison for 9.5 years. Janice had no other announcements.
  • Joyce Garczynski (Towson): Liaison for two years. They are currently working on continuing promotion of AskUsNow! at Towson.
  • Cathy Wetmore (MCPL): Liaison for two years. Cathy had no other announcements.
  • Ellen Ruoff (Calvert): Liaison for two years. Calvert is continuing to promote AskUsNow! to middle school students during school visits.
  • Melissa Van Schaick (Frederick CPL): Has served as a liaison for approximately 8 months. Frederick has two new providers. They will continue to promote the service during school visits. Frederick is also hosting a “happy hour” at the school for teachers so they can share more information about services.
  • Shak Dhanesar (CCBC): Liaison since the start of AskUsNow! services. Shak had no additional announcements.
  • Kendra Frost (Harford CPL): Liaison for approximately 10 years. Paul recently conducted a site visit at Harford. Kendra shared the transcript review team’s identified chat sessions with her library’s administration, helping to promote the service. Three more branches are now involved with AskUsNow!. Kendra also announced that she will be retiring at the end of the month. Paul presented a certificate to Kendra thanking her for her years of hard work with the service, sharing that her fearlessness with new technology contributed greatly to the service’s success.
  • Tracy Miller (Harford CPL): Will serve as an interim liaison for AskUsNow! once Kendra retires. She will serve as liaison until approximately fall 2015.
  • Erika Harris (CCBC): Has been looking for furniture for the library and asked for input on budget-friendly vendors or local businesses.
  • Sue Tinanoff (BCPL): Liaison since the pilot program. She announced that they are losing an AskUsNow! provider. Paul reminded the group that trainings for new providers are scheduled.
  • Chris McGee (Allegany CLS): Liaison for four years. Recently, Allegany had a large event at the Mall in LaVale with the Allegany County Judy Center. It was both a school readiness fair and a Dr. Seuss Day celebration. About 2,000-3,000 participants attended. Chris brought AskUsNow! marketing materials to the event.
  • Liz Beere (Carroll CC): Liaison for approximately 7-8 years. She announced the spring musical at Carroll is Into the Woods, and that one of their AskUsNow! providers will be starring in it.
  • Susan Pluhar (SLRC): Liaison for approximately seven years. The Central Library is going through a renovation, with most public service departments moving to the first floor. They are also launching a roving reference pilot program and researching text messaging as a potential remote reference tool. Susan asked for suggestions from other liaisons that have text messaging at their own libraries.
    • Stephanie advised text messaging has not been cost effective, and they may be discontinuing it. They have found that with smartphones, many users can easily access AskUsNow! to ask a question instead.
    • Sue stated that BCPL uses it through LibAnswers. It also allows for SMS, which can be challenging because of length restrictions. They have found this service to work well.
    • Ellen advised Calvert tried a text messaging service, but it was not used frequently and so it was discontinued.
    • Paul shared that AskUsNow! is doing some research to see if a statewide text messaging service is a viable addition.
  • Christy McKinney (Carroll CPL): Liaison for about three years. They are working on promoting the service. The library recently hosted a booth at the Random House Book Fair. They will also provide AskUsNow! materials at a booth for the Battle of the Books contest for elementary school students.
  • Marilyn Pontius (WCFL): Liaison for about eight months. She is looking forward to spring because of our recent unplanned weather-related closings.
  • Suzie Kuch (Charles CPL): Liaison for about three years. Recently, her library has handed out AskUsNow! highlighters to promote the service.
  • Suzy Bell (Cecil CPL): Liaison for approximately four years. Cecil County was chosen as a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Services. They also have a new Young Adult Librarian who has been promoting AskUsNow! services.
  • Metta Lash (Montgomery College Library): Liaison for two years. Montgomery College recently switched to a single-service desk model at all of their campuses. So far, it has been effective.


QuestionPoint Updates

Paul shared updates about QuestionPoint, including changes in leadership and interface updates.

Susan McGlamery left QuestionPoint in January to accept a position in a law library. Wren Spangler ( is the new manager.

QuestionPoint is testing out a new user-friendly scheduling tool. This tool might be shared for use with all institutions for internal use. It is still in the process of being tested, and there is no release date yet. They are also testing if it can be used to schedule local hours as well as global.

This spring, QuestionPoint will do a complete reskin of the QuestionPoint librarian and Patron account interfaces. 

Paul provided an update on institution-level queues. Recently, QuestionPoint announced plans to allow administrators to create an unlimited amount of chat queues or revise current ones at no additional cost.   The institution-level unlimited Queues will not be in the Spring release, and there is no delivery date at this time. Paul advised liaisons to think about whether we’d like to create more chat queues.

Erika asked if QuestionPoint is planning to update the layout of policy pages.  Paul stated there are no scheduled updates for the policy page at this time. He did advise to use the “Alerts” section at the top of the page to highlight library-specific updates or provide insight on persistent patrons.


Persistent Patrons – Discussion

Chris shared that he has noticed an increasing number of customers using the chat service to promote books. These inquiries appear not to be specific to any library system. They are usually sent to Shared Followup for the library to investigate. Should we have an institutional AskUsNow! script to handle these blind promotional chat sessions? If the customer shares an email address, should the question be sent to followup?

After discussion, the group decided on the following course of action:

  • There should be a shared statewide script for promotional inquiries.
  • If an email address is provided, providers should follow QuestionPoint protocol and send it to followup.
  • If a pattern is identified, liaisons or administrators will send an email to the listserv with more information.
  • Paul will also inquire with QuestionPoint for further advice on how to handle these types of questions.


Project Updates

Internship and Volunteer Programs

Paul reminded the group that having volunteers on the service – ideally to cover one-two hours/week – would make a big difference in coverage and support.

Paul will resend the “Volunteering for AskUsNow!” information to the listserv. Paul advised liaisons to be aware of their library system’s volunteer policy.  If a paid staff member wanted to volunteer for the service but cannot volunteer through their own library system, AskUsNow! can sponsor them directly.

Examples of potential volunteers include library school students, providers looking to log volunteer hours, and recent and current retirees.

Paul is also looking for one-two interns for this summer. Liaisons can send Paul contact information for any potential interns.

New Staff and Refresher Training

Since Fall 2014, AskUsNow! trained 21 new providers. 21 providers completed continuing education opportunities in virtual services, including SLRC trainings on virtual best practices and effective ways of training library media specialists on promoting AskUsNow!.

Currently, there are two trainings for new staff scheduled:

  • May 28, 2015: BCPL North Point Branch (20 seats)
  • July 30, 2015: SMRLA (10 seats)

If there is a larger demand for training, Paul will consider booking another session. He also reminded liaisons that he will organize training for specific partner libraries if only a few staff members need to be trained.

Paul is in the process of organizing refresher trainings.  These will be conducted through Blackboard, and will run for one hour. Paul contacted a Business, Science and Technology Librarian at SLRC to assist with a math, science, and technology webinar. The collaboration would showcase a combination of resources and chat behaviors.

Based on review of recent survey results, Paul would like to create trainings that cover best practices for answering circulation questions and questions addressing temporary technical difficulties (such as a library website not working). The group discussed the possibility of hosting two separate shorter trainings, or one hour-long training covering both of these topics.

Paul also suggested collaborating with an experience circulation manager who may want to contribute content. Paul advised the group to pass along contact information of anyone who might be interested.

Inner Harbor Website Redesign

During the summer of 2015, an AskUsNow! intern created a needs assessment for the Inner Harbor. In September 2015, Paul sent a survey about the Inner Harbor to the AskUsNow! community and received 82 responses. In cooperation with the SLRC Web Department, a webpage inventory was created and started in February 2015.  The webpage inventory will lead to decisions on what to keep, archive, and delete from the Inner Harbor.  The inventory may also determine which type of CMS and website platform to use for the Inner Harbor.

Currently, there are five librarians who expressed interest in assisting with inventory of the website. Two have begun the inventory Paul asked if two liaisons could assist with the inventory, and advised he would send out an email after the meeting covering this topic.

Targeted Promotion and Marketing

Social Media

Becca reported on AskUsNow! and social media marketing. Since social media marketing was restarted on 1/1/15, 50 Facebook Posts and 45 Tweets have been sent. Some of the posts/tweets that have been sent include photos/images with permission, customer comments from surveys shared with partner libraries, fun facts on Fridays. The most popular posts/tweets based on views, shares, and comments are ones with photos/images on them. 

Social media marketing of AskUsNow!’s 12th anniversary will be on 3/17/15 and throughout the week of 3/16/15-3/20/15. AskUsNow! partner libraries were encouraged to highlight the 12th anniversary with hashtags and memorable moments.

Statewide Marketing Plan

After review of the 10 Targeted Audience sheets completed by liaisons, Paul developed a marketing plan. A rough draft was uploaded to Google Docs. Paul would like for three liaisons to assist with editing the plan.

Some identified targeted audiences included in the plan are pre-teens, families, first-year college students, and adults rediscovering the library who may prefer an online experience. Because of the diverse types of library systems included in AskUsNow!, the marketing plan can be individually adjusted.

Online Visibility

Paul shared that the majority of total chat sessions are arriving via Qwidget. As of the end of February, 55% of AskUsNow! questions arrived through Qwidget. Out of the seven libraries who utilize the Qwidget, six of them have experienced a total increase in AskUsNow! chat usage.

Strategic placement of the Qwidget or chat form effects affects usage. Good places to insert the Qwidget include the homepage, contact pages, and database pages. Kendra shared that a new Web Services Administrator at Harford County wants to place the Qwidget on every page of the library’s site.

Paul also recommended that the Qwidget is complemented by close placement to similar services, such as BrainFuse or another online tutoring service.

The Qwidget can also be placed on pages that cater to a specific audience. Paul suggested liaisons review the types of questions they are receiving. Becca mentioned she is able to run a 90-day report showing descriptive codes for individual libraries.

The group discussed the possibility of having a message available when no librarians from that particular library system are available.  Paul advised that this can be communicated out effectively to the AskUsNow! customer in the greeting and reference interview parts of the chat session.  

Paul advised that if any liaisons need additional input on the Qwidget to provide for administrators or staff who work on their library’s website, they can contact him.

School Partnerships

Paul is developing a Qwidget implementation guide for school librarian.   In cooperation with the SLRC Web Department, he has developed an AskUsNow! desktop icon by request of administrators for Maryland public school librarians. 


Transcript Review Team

Becca thanked the transcript review team for their hard work in reviewing the chosen transcripts from January 2015. The team consists of Jesse Roth (AACPL), Melissa Van Schaick (Frederick), and Lisa Hartman (Frostburg).

Becca recently designed a certificate for providers whose transcripts were recognized on the AskUsNow! listserv. A copy of the certificate was presented to Chris McGee for one of his exceptional chat sessions in February. All providers who were previously recognized will receive copies of the certificate.


Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held in Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at Towson’s Cook Library. The time is TBD.


Meeting Hosts

Hosts for September and December 2015 are needed. Paul suggested that a computer lab could also be used for a liaison meeting.


Thank You

Thank you to Christy McKinney for hosting this meeting, and to Patty Sundberg, manager of the Mt. Airy Branch, for allowing us to use the conference room.


Action Items


  • Inquires with QuestionPoint for further advice on how to handle promotional cold-calls
  • Resends the “Volunteering for AskUsNow!” information to the listserv
  • Shares more information about Qwidget implementation for school librarians.
  • Sends certificates to providers who were previously recognized on the listserv for an exceptional transcript
  • Continues research and creation of training sessions for current providers


  • Contact AskUsNow! to assist in:
    • Inventory of the Inner Harbor website
    • Review of the AskUsNow! marketing plan (three liaisons)
    • Hosting the September or December 2015 liaison meetings
  • Contact Becca to receive a 90-day report showing the descriptive codes for each question
  • Send AskUsNow! the contact information for any potential interns
  • Advise AskUsNow! if any employees would like to attend a new staff training session
  • Contact AskUsNow! for any additional input on the Qwidget to provide for administrators, if needed


Minutes taken by Becca Starr.

December 2014 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Time:  10:30 am-1:00 pm

Waldorf West Branch, Charles County Public Library, 10405 O'Donnell Place, Waldorf, MD 20603

View Larger Map


Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


There is free parking in the library's parking lot.


Waldorf West has numerous lunch options because of being conveniently located near the St. Charles Towne Center:


Meet and Mingle @ 10-10:30 AM

Introductions/Announcements and Approval of the September 2014 Meeting Notes

Around the Room Discussion

AskUsNow! Class Visits

AskUsNow! Statewide Schedule

FY15 Projects: 

  • Marketing Plan:  Targeted Audience  (See Attachment:  to be completed by Friday, 12/5/14)
  • Inner Harbor Website Redesign
  • New Staff and Refresher Training
  • Provider Recognition

Update on Qwidget Implementation and Use

Patron Surveys and Descriptive Codes

Next Liaison Meeting Information

Adjournment @ 1 PM

111314_AUNTargetAudienceWorksheet.docx17.01 KB
AUN_Incentives_Program.docx18.98 KB

December 9, 2014 Meeting Notes

Maryland AskUsNow! Liaison Meeting

December 9, 2014

Charles County Public Library, Waldorf West Branch




  • Paul Chasen, Maryland AskUsNow! Statewide Coordinator
  • Becca Starr, SLRC/Maryland AskUsNow! Support for Operations
  • Debbie Barlow, Howard County Public Library
  • Josie Fiore, Prince George’s County Memorial Library
  • Amy Ford (Blackboard monitor), St. Mary’s Public Library
  • Suzie Kuch, Charles County Public Library
  • Susan Pluhar, Enoch Pratt Free Library/SLRC
  • Ellen Ruoff, Calvert County Public Library

Virtually Present

  • Liz Beere, Carroll Community College
  • Shak Dhanesar, Community College of Baltimore County
  • Kendra Frost, Harford County Public Library
  • Joyce Garczynski, Towson University
  • Lori Guenthner, Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
  • Erika Harris, Community College of Baltimore County
  • Janice Lanthrop, Anne Arundel Community College
  • Stephanie Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library
  • Sue Tinanoff, Baltimore County Public Library
  • Catherine McGuire, Maryland State Law Library
  • Christy McKinney, Carroll County Public Library
  • Melissa Van Schaick, Frederick County Public Library
  • Cathy Wetmore, Montgomery County Public Library

Notified Absence

  • Metta Lash, Montgomery College
  • Chris McGee, Allegany County Library System
  • Karen Neville, Worcester County Public Library
  • Marilyn Pontius, Washington County Free Library
  • Laura Powell, Caroline County Public Library
  • Andrea Sleek, Allegany Community College


September 2014 Meeting Notes


Meeting notes from September 2014 were approved. Motion by Debbie Barlow and seconded by Josie Fiore.




  • Paul
    • Introduced Rebecca Starr as the new Support for Operations for AskUsNow! and SLRC librarian.
    • AskUsNow! trained 18 new providers since the last liaison meeting, bringing the service to a total of 60 new and “refreshed” providers trained this year.
    • Thanked the group for their increased communication efforts, which included  contacting him to share outreach reports and to ask technical questions
    • Thanked the group for their assistance as students returned to school, particularly with National History Day questions. Paul reiterated that providers continue to use best skills to help with history day/science homework. 
    • Shared that AskUsNow! is building relationships with the Maryland Humanities Council and the Maryland Association for School Librarians
    • From September 10, 2014 - present, AskUsNow! received a 90% satisfaction rating based on customer surveys.
  • Ellen (Calvert County PL)
    • Calvert has two new AskUsNow! providers.
  • Josie (Prince George’s)
    • Digital Services now has the opportunity to speak to new staff during orientation, allowing them further opportunity to inform and promote AskUsNow!
    • Reported there has been a persistent problem customer through their website’s qwidget. Paul reminded the staff to refer to QuestionPoint’s best practices for persistent patrons, have a standard script for providers to use with the patron, and to contact him or Becca with chat information. 
  • Debbie (Howard CPL)
    • Shared a story of a recent group of students who were persistent problems during a class bomb. After one mentioned the name of the school, Debbie reached out the media specialist, and received letters of apology from the students.
  • Susan (EPFL/SLRC)
    • The Central Branch of EPFL will be going through renovations in mid-2015, but it should not affect AskUsNow! service.
    • EPFL gained its first provider located at one of the branch locations.
  • Suzie (Charles CPL)
    • Recent fluctuations in staffing have led to potential new providers for AskUsNow!
    • Charles CPL is working to develop public outreach for National History Day and science fair projects. This would include promotion of Brainfuse and AskUsNow!
  • Becca (EPFL/AskUsNow!)
    • Shared that in early 2015, AskUsNow! will refresh its social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Amy (St. Mary’s)
    • Added one new provider and one global hour; changes have been going well.
  • Liz (Carroll CC)
    • Carroll Community College has one new provider.
  • Catherine (Maryland SLL)
    • During the recent flood of National History Day questions, a QP backup attempted to transfer a non-legal question to the law library. The library wants to revisit the discussion of developing their own queue to specifically address law questions. Catherine asked for suggestions from the group, and Paul advised he would reach out to NOAA on their behalf.
  • Stephanie (Anne Arundel CPL)
    • AACPL has added new providers, and things have been going well.


Requested and Accepted Chat Statistics

  • With National History Day assistance increasing, class bombs have been getting attention from QuestionPoint on a national level. How can Maryland AskUsNow! better communicate  class visits so we can prepare backup coverage?
  • Paul reviewed the number requested and accepted questions during 2013 and 2014. Maryland AskUsNow!’s goal is to accept 75% of all incoming Maryland questions. From October and November 2014, we accepted 48% of the 4,700 requested questions.
    • Paul contacted Susan at QuestionPoint to discuss these numbers. QuestionPoint suggested taking “baby steps” to improve our acceptance rate.
    • Next quarter, Paul wishes to see AskUsNow! improve its acceptance rate into the 60% range.
  • Paul shared the times during normal coverage hours (8AM - 9PM) that had the most acceptances and the least acceptances by AskUsNow! providers.
    • Most acceptances: 4-5PM (83%); 3-4PM (80%); 9-10AM (79%); 2-3PM (75%)
    • Least acceptances: 12-1PM (59%); 1-2PM (58%); 7-8PM (58%); 8-9PM (48%); 8-9AM (42%)
  • The group discussed why our acceptance rate has decreased this year.
    • Debbie suggested the holiday schedule may impact our acceptance numbers, depending on what days/times providers are online.
    • Paul shared that AskUsNow! is providing 60 less hours statewide than it did in 2013. This is due to some partner changing from full to referral. For example, The University of Maryland, College Park no longer provides coverage hours, but students are still using the service regularly.
    • Increased class visits/class bombs mean more questions are requested in short bursts.
  • How can we increase our acceptance rate?
    • Increase our number of full partnerships or providers so we can cover more shifts
    • The period between 12 and 2PM gets a lot of traffic and has the least amount of coverage; adding more providers to this time period could increase our total acceptance rate.
    • Paul has been in contact with College Park to find AskUsNow! interns. They may be able to provide coverage on “off” hours.
    • Liaisons should try to increase communication to schools so we can anticipate class bombs.  If we can anticipate when those will occur on a more frequent basis, we can add backup providers and increase our acceptance rate.
  • Debbie suggested reaching out to schools during new teacher orientation. Paul advised he was in the process of scheduling a meeting with MASL to discuss further assistance.


Statewide Schedule

Paul shared AskUsNow!’s statewide goal to pick up 3-7 more hours of local chat within the next month. Liaisons were encouraged to review their provider schedules.


Maryland AskUsNow! Class Visits

Paul shared information related to students and  AskUsNow! customers:

  • The student population using AskUsNow! has been primarily middle school students.
  • Paul met with the Maryland Humanities Council about AskUsNow!. He learned they promote the service when they visit schools, but have encouraged students to log in as Enoch Pratt customers regardless of their location. This miscommunication has since been addressed, but best practice dictates that providers should still confirm the customer’s location prior to sharing library-specific resources.
  • Debbie shared that she has noticed some AskUsNow! customers on the academic queue who turned out to be middle school students.
  • Josie shared she has noticed some AskUsNow! customers logging in as Maryland customers when they were actually located out of state. 


FY15 Projects

Marketing Plan

Paul thanked the group for submitting their target audience worksheets. Liaisons can still complete and forward these worksheets, as answers will help to define the goals of the AskUsNow! marketing plan currently in development..

Some popular and noteworthy responses included:

  • What is the desired action of your target audience? 
    • Customers want an online space that is similar to the physical library: welcoming, convenient, and comfortable
    • Customers want research assistance
    • Customers have a “mixed bag” of desired actions
  • What demographic groups are most likely to take the desired action?
    • Students
    • Middle class
    • All genders
    • Those striving for higher education
    • Unemployed or underemployed
    • People who are already physically located in the library
  • How do they think?
    • “In a nice type of way”
    • Quickly
    • Too much/multitasking
    • Last minute
  • What needs, challenges, and frustrations to they have?
    • Time
    • Limited understanding of credible resources
    • Technology and language barriers
    • Limited understanding of their assignment and where to find answers
    • Library account access
    • Limited understanding of  teacher/librarian role differences

Paul will send out remaining questions and answers to liaisons on the AskUsNow! listserv.

Inner Harbor Website Design

Paul received 82 responses to the Inner Harbor redesign survey. The sections with the highest interest and importance for the Inner Harbor include:

  • Chat Resources
  • Training
  • Updates about AskUsNow! and QuestionPoint

The major goals of the redesign are to unclutter the site and make it user-friendly.

Paul advised he would be setting up a test site in cooperation with the State Library Resource Center and would contact the test group once it was ready for feedback.

New Staff and Refresher Training

  • Liaisons should notify AskUsNow! if there are any staff who would like to become providers or would like refresher training. Group trainings will be scheduled during Spring 2015. Paul is also willing to travel to libraries if only a few providers need to be trained.
  • Paul would like to start offering refresher trainings in specialized subject areas, such as STEM and QuestionPoint specifics.
  • AskUsNow! is also conducting research on online training platforms for both real time and recorded trainings.
    • Many liaisons expressed approval in using Blackboard for live training opportunities.

Incentive Program

Becca discussed provider recognition and introduced a new incentive program that will be launched in January 2015. 

  • Chats with or without a survey will be considered for recognition.
  • Liaisons should send in providers’ great chat sessions for consideration.
  • On a monthly basis, three exceptional transcripts will be selected to showcase great chat behavior.
  • There will be a drawing every quarter with the winner receiving a $10.00 gift card. 
  • The chat selection committee needs three volunteers and this would entail about one hour per week to look over the chats.
  • Becca will send a reminder to the AskUsNow! Listserv in mid-December to recruit interested liaisons.

Qwidget Implementation and Use

  • Out of the 21,054 questions requested to date in 2014, 47% (9,952) were requested via qwidget. Currently, only 11 Maryland libraries (10 partner libraries) have a qwidget on their library’s website.
  • Recent trends in qwidget implementation show they appear primarily on a library’s homepage, research, homework, and database pages, or on all of them.
  • Strategic placement of the qwidget, such as not having it available on any account access pages, can influence the type of questions requested.
  • Frustrations were voiced about not being able to “push” a webpage when a customer enters through the qwidget. The provider must remember to remind the user to copy and paste the URL into a new browser window.  
  • Liaisons are encouraged to contact Paul for additional information about the qwidget.


Action Items

Maryland AskUsNow!


  • Inquires with NOAA regarding their separate queue on behalf of the Maryland State Law Library
  • Sends document to the AskUsNow! listserv that covers the remaining target audience questions that were not covered during the meeting
  • Provides document to liaisons that outlines ways partners can effectively implement a qwidget


  • Continues to schedule site visits with AskUsNow! Partners
  • Builds social media plan for refreshed accounts
  • Develops Inner Harbor test site to share with testers and researches options to collect analytics for the new site
  • Reviews different platforms to conduct online trainings, including Blackboard and Camtasia
  • Continues reaching out to other virtual chat services around the nation to share ideas



  • Complete targeted audience worksheets and send them back to Paul
  • Refer any potential AskUsNow! interns or volunteers to Paul
  • Review provider schedules to determine if they can provide an additional Maryland queue hour
  • Notify Paul of any staff that would like to become new providers or would like refresher training during Spring 2015
  • Contact Paul if they know of any subject specialists (particularly in STEM subjects) to conduct topical provider trainings


  • Continue to build relationships within their communities - including teachers, faculty, and library media specialists - to educate them on AskUsNow!
  • Continue to improve our chat acceptance rate so we end next quarter in the 60% range, up from 48%


Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held at the Carroll County Public Library, Mt. Airy Branch on March 10, 2015. Time and agenda are TBD.


Thank You

Special thanks to Suzie Kuch for hosting the liaison meeting and for assisting with note taking. Thank you to Amy Ford for monitoring the virtual participation platform.

Notes compiled by Suzie Kuch and Rebecca Starr.

September 2014 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Orleans Street Branch, Enoch Pratt Free Library, 1303 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

View Larger Map



Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


There is free parking in the library's parking lot.


Orleans is  three blocks from Lombard Street i.e. Corn Beef Row (see below for list of Deli's), there's a Burger King across the Street and a Popeyes three blocks from the library (corner Broadway and Orleans).

Attman's Authentic NY Deli
1019 E. Lombard St

Lenny's Deli of Lombard St.
1150 e. Lombard St


Meet and Mingle @ 10-10:30 AM

Introductions/Announcements and Approval of the June 2014 Meeting Notes

Presentation by Dennis Nangle, DLDS:  FY14 Managing for Results

FY15 Projects:  Please refer to March '14 Meeting Notes:  "Priorities for a new statewide AskUsNow! coordinator."

  • Marketing/Rebranding AskUsNow!
  • Inner Harbor Website Redevelopment
  • New Staff and Refresher Training
  • Provider Recognition?

QuestionPoint Updates:  Please refer to QuestionPoint Virtual User Group:  August 2014.

Discussion:  Qwidget Implementation and Use

Around the Room

Next Liaison Meeting Information

Adjournment @ 1 PM

September 9, 2014 Meeting Notes

AskUsNow! Liaison Meeting

September 9, 2014

Orleans Street Branch, EPFL



Sonia Alcantara-Antoine, SLRC

Debbie Barlow, Howard CLS

Suzy Bell, Cecil CPL

Paul Chasen, Statewide Coordinator

Josie Fiore, Prince George's CMLS

Amy Ford, St. Mary's CL

Kendra Frost, Harford CPL

Jim Lynch, Baltimore City CC

Dennis Nangle, DLDS, Public Libraries & Networking Branch Chief

Susan Pluhar, EPFL

Laksamee Putnam, Towson Univ

Sue Tinanoff, BCPL


Virtually Present

Liz Beere, Carroll Community College Library

Liz Bowen, Frederick CPL

Erika Hodge Harris, Community College of Baltimore County

Metta Lash, Montgomery College

Janice Lathrop, AACC

Chris McGee, Allegany County LS

Catherine McGuire, MD State Law Library

Christy McKinney, Carroll CPL

Karen Neville, Worcester County Library

Ellen Ruoff, Calvert Library

Melissa Van Schaick, Frederick CPL

Cathy Wetmore, Montgomery CPL


Notified Absence

Sue Bonsteel, Stevenson University Library

Suzie Kuch, Charles CPL

Theresa Mastrodonato, Frostburg State University Library

Stephanie Petruso, Anne Arundel CPL

Andrea Sleek, Allegany College Library


Introductions/Announcements & Approval of June 2014 Meeting Notes


We introduced ourselves, and welcomed Melissa Van Schaick as the new AUN Liaison, Frederick CPL.  Thank you to Liz Bowen for serving two years as the AUN Liaison.

Approval of the June 2014 Meeting Notes

The June 2014 Meeting Notes were revised, approved and seconded.  Updated minutes are on the Inner Harbor website. One question from the June 2014 Meeting Notes was addressed:

Q: The qwidget is great, but because of its placement on webpages, it seems like the questions coming in are local and account questions.  Is it possible to restrict the qwidget use to local only and not have it roll up to the 24/7 service?  This might work better for all providers in terms of being able to really answer the questions.

A: Only libraries with individual QuestionPoint queues can have local only chat sessions.  Examples of libraries with individual queues include MCPL and NOAA.


Paul highlighted accomplishments since the June 2014 Liaisons Meeting:

  • 40 new AUN providers were trained in 3 new staff training sessions.
    • The New Staff Training registration deadline for Cecil County on 9/22/14 has passed.
    • The next New Staff Training is on 11/6/14, CCBC-Catonsville Library.
  • A Refresher Training is scheduled for attendees of the SLRC Fall Conference on Wednesday, 10/15/14 at the Central Library.
  • The AUN statewide scheduled was revised and updated.
  • Victoria Smith, the Summer AUN Intern, successfully completed her internship.  She created an Inner Harbor usability survey that will be given out in in September 2014.
  • Seven AUN academic library partner visits took place.  More site visits will be scheduled.
  • 90% of the AUN chat sessions have been satisfied or somewhat satisfied.


Presentation by Dennis Nangle, DLDS:  FY14 Managing for Results

Dennis gave a brief explanation of how DLDS works with SLRC and AUN, and reports the Managing for Results to the MSDE.  He highlighted accomplishments from the FY14 Managing for Results compared to FY13:

  • Increased number of chat sessions from MD patrons.
  • Increased MD patron satisfaction of AUN by one percent.
  • Accurately explained the importance of the 42 partners who provide 230 hours of chat reference per week.  

Shared the FY15 Goals – They have set an annual goal of increasing the number of participating libraries and number of hours provided.

If the metrics and format of Managing for Results could be revised, here are points to consider or supplemental reports to add to the report from the partners:

  • Laksmee:  include phone and in-person reference statistics.
  • Kendra:  collect comparative stats on the length of chat sessions and the quality of service provided.
  • Sonia:  explain how the types of questions answered by AUN providers have changed over the years.
  • Debbie:  compare qwidget questions answered during chat compared to qwidget questions referred to a local library.

Paul shared FY14 accomplishments outside of the Managing for Results include:

  • 61% AUN patrons are first-time users.
  • 93% patrons stated that AUN is easy to use.
  • A content audit was completed of the Inner Harbor website.
  • AUN represented the state at national conferences and events.


Priorities for the new Statewide AUN! Coordinator:  From the March ‘14 Liaison Meeting


We discussed ideas for developing a marketing plan, mostly focusing on targeting audiences.

Targeting Audiences:

  • Determine the difference between the academic and the public library customers.
  • Laksmee:  marketing to late-night students
  • Catherine:  marketing to parents of students who may need help after school. Parents are often helping the homework and could really use good pointers.
  • Janice:  marketing to those with more involved, in-depth questions. Saying tools like Siri can answer simple/quick questions and library webpages are much better about hours and policies. Point toward librarians who can provide much more pointed and thorough reference assistance.

This led to a suggestion that questions about grade-level be added to the opening form and/or to the post-chat survey and discussion as to whether or not that was appropriate for the whole consortium. Paul will look into the availability of modifying our post-chat survey.


In cooperation with DLDS, AUN is doing research to determine if we should go through a rebranding process or a related project.

  • Paul referred to discussions he has had with other statewide virtual reference services that have gone through a rebranding process.
  • Quote to consider via Julie Strange:  “You don’t own your brand. A brand isn’t a logo or packaging. It’s a gut feeling. And when two people have the same gut feeling, you have a brand.”—Robert Brunner
  • Chris:  rebranding involves tweaking connotations people link to a product or service.
  • Get buy-in from many audiences and supporters.
  • Chris:  market as a library service.
  • Debbie:  Link the importance of AUN to education and the MSDE.

Marketing Tchotchkes:  Paul said AUN currently has several types of marketing materials available, and a decision needs to be made on which materials to consider purchasing to promote AUN.   

  • Do we need several marketing materials?  Or just a few materials?
  • Do we currently give out all of the marketing materials?
  • Highlighters tend to be the most requested marketing material.

Inner Harbor Review and Redesign

A nine-question AUN Inner Harbor usability survey will be given out to AUN liaisons and providers in the next week.  Paul shared a few of the questions for the group. In addition, the Pratt/SLRC Web Department will be looking for participants for more in-depth input.

The website usability survey results and focus group participation will lead to a website that does not have too much information, and has the information that the AUN partners, liaisons, and providers need.

Josie asked about analyzing the use of the website using Google Analytics.  Paul will consider Google Analytics because it is already being used at his library.  Another option is analytics provided by Drupal, the current content management system.  The analytics will be explored further once website migration from BCPL to Pratt is done. 

New Staff and Refresher Training

Besides providing new staff and refresher training during the next fiscal year, updating the current training materials is a priority. Paul will decide on staying with Qarbon/Viewlet software or move to a similar video tutorial software.

With regard to training topics, Paul noted from site visits and the AUN needs assessment that there seems to be a difference between what public providers want vs what academic providers want and asked for suggestions from the floor:

  • Reviewing descriptive codes.
  • A need to feel more comfortable picking up academic questions.
  • Online etiquette and chat behaviors.
  • Wanting more info about open-access journals—that is, what's really out there!
  • A refresher just on Google scholar.
  • Other topics mentioned include using policy pages, scripts, and the appropriate description codes.

Paul may consider the “shadowing” as a training option—maybe between academic and public partners.

Provider Recognition

It was determined that the Rockstar Librarian recognition has fallen by the wayside.  We may consider an “AUN Provider of the Month” posting on the Inner Harbor, a suggestion from a prior liaison meeting.


QuestionPoint Updates—Virtual User Group Meeting August 2014

Paul was pleased to note that most of what was covered in this meeting we'd learned in June from Susan McGlamery. The exceptions include:

  • When using the WYSIWYG for followup, avoid various text sizes and colors. That feature has been problematic and is being worked on.
  • QP is looking for good stories to add to the QP website, and storytelling is something to consider for AUN websites as well.


Qwidget Implementation and Use

According to our stats, qwidget customers make up 48% of all requests! This indicates that the qwidget is popular and is growing. If we want it implemented in our libraries, we need to find the person who will make that possible with our library system. You have to get buy-in from the system and work closely with the IT department.

Earlier in the meeting, qwidgets and local chat queues were in the discussion:

  • The local queue is fairly inexpensive to add per institution—approximately $500 to $600. 
  • The separate chat queue roll-up was clarified.  Questions in a separate chat queue go from local, to MD providers, then the 24/7 cooperative. 
  • QP libraries can explain on their websites how the qwidget or chat services work.  Paul will share examples from QP about how libraries explain chat reference.
  • The local QP queue is less expensive, plus you still get the QP 24/7 support.  Paul will share contact information to learn more about the local queue.


Action Items

Paul with additional support from the liaisons and partners will:

  • Continue partner site visits.
  • Work with the marketing team to come up with a marketing plan, including mission, target audience, and steps to reach the target audience.
  • Look into the availability of modifying our post-chat survey.
  • Continue to seek advice from the liaisons, virtual reference community, and rebranding consultants regarding our next move(s).
  • Continue a discussion on the listserv about which AUN marketing materials to continue using.
  • Decide on analytical software for the AUN websites after the website migration is done.
  • Share examples about how libraries explain how a qwidget, or chat service, works on their websites.
  • Share QP contact information to learn more about the local queue.


Our next meeting is Tuesday, December 9 and it will be at the Waldorf West Branch, Charles County.  Thank you to Suzie Kuch for agreeing to host the meeting.


Thank you to Debbie Barlow for the meeting notes and Amy Ford for monitoring the virtual attendees.

June 2014 Liaison Meeting

Where and When

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Hagarstown Library, Washington County Free Library (100 South Potomac Street, Hagerstown  MD 21740)

Room 334



Beverages and light refreshments will be served.



Ample parking is available on site.  You can get your parking ticket validated at the library so that there is no charge upon exit. 



Meet and Mingle @ 10-10:30 AM


Presentation: Susan McGlamery, OCLC - Reporting Tools in QuestionPoint

Discussion of QuestionPoint upgrades


Adjournment @ 1 PM

OPTIONAL: Tour of new Hagerstown Library


June 10, 2014 Meeting Notes

Maryland AskUsNow! Liaison Meeting

June 10, 2014

Washington County Free Library, Hagerstown Branch



Sonia Alcantara-Antoine, Interim Maryland AUN! Coordinator

Paul Chasen, Incoming Maryland AUN! Coordinator

Alice Paterra, Worcester County Library

Andrea Sleek, Allegany College     

Chris McGee, Allegany County Library System

Debbie Barlow, Howard County Library System

Janice Lathrop, Anne Arundel Community College

Josie Fiore, Prince George's County Memorial Library System

Kendra Frost, Harford County Public Library

Shannon Kraushaar, Washington County Free Library

Sue Tinanoff, Baltimore County Public Library

Susan Pluhar, Enoch Pratt Free Library/SLRC

Theresa Mastrodonato, Frostburg State University


Virtually Present:

Amy Ford, St. Mary's County Library

Catherine McGuire, Maryland State Law Library

Cathy Wetmore, Montgomery County Public Libraries

Christy McKinney, Carroll County Public Library

Ellen Ruoff, Calvert Library

Erika Harris, Community College of Baltimore County

Liz Beere, Carroll Community College

Liz Bowen, Frederick County Public Libraries

Metta Lash, Montgomery College

Suzanne Kuch, Charles County Public Library



Susan McGlamery of OCLC/Questionpoint gave a presentation. 

  • She outlined recent and upcoming improvements based on user surveys and focus group sessions.  While users were most satisfied with chat and the global cooperative, they wanted to see an improved interface that was more user-friendly for both librarians and customers. 
    • Recent changes included a “cleaned up” login and home pages, and WYSIWYG editor in the Answer screen.
    • Upcoming changes include a WYSIWYG editor for scripts (July 12, 2014), WYSIWYG editor in e-mail follow-up, chat assessment and upgrade, and an interactive feature like co-browse or white board. 
    • It was suggested by Kendra to add a "are you sure you want to close?" option so that librarians don’t accidentally close a chat.  Susan has added this to the list of improvements.
    • Susan also reviewed various reporting tools.  User surveys showed that the report module was the least favorite aspect of the Questionpoint software. 
    • With Institution Reports, one can pars out how many customers are yours, how they came in, when they came in, etc. so you have an idea your busiest times of day.
    • Check the review transcripts to see the sessions handled by librarians in the last 90 days.   
    • After 90 days, one can access reports from “Offline Reports.”  OCLC/QP is thinking about cutting off transcript access to only the last three years, but the suggestion to Susan was, perhaps, five years would be better. Stats are available all the way back to the beginning - 2003.
  • Follow-up questions can be referred to Susan at
  • The full recording of the webinar is available here

General Updates

  • Sonia introduced Paul Chasen, the incoming Coordinator for Maryland AskUsNow!  He will be starting in July 2014.
  • New staff training for AUN will be taking place over the summer.  About 40 new chat providers will be trained over three training sessions. 
  • AUN has an intern – named Victoria Smith – who will be working on helping us to clean up the Inner Harbor website and a new marketing plan.  She will be working closely with liaisons as she gathers information. 
    • There was a Refresher Training Work Group that studied this issue and can provide assistance to Victoria and Paul going forward.
    • Kendra also reminded Sonia about the Class Visit Tool Kit committee that developed a kit to hopefully preempt class bombs.
  • We have a contract with OCLC/QP through 2015 but will eventually explore other products. 
  • The qwidget is great, but because of its placement on webpages, it seems like the questions coming in are local and account questions.  Is it possible to restrict the qwidget use to local only and not have it roll up to the 24/7 service?  This might work better for all providers in terms of being able to really answer the questions.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 9, 2014 – Orleans Street Branch, Enoch Pratt Free Library, 10:30 am-1 pm.

Submitted by Deborah Barlow, Howard County Public Library

March 2014 Liaison Meeting

Where and When

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC):  8400 Corporate Drive, Suite 500 Landover, MD 20785

View Larger Map



NARIC will generously provide refreshments at the start of the meeting and a Panera Bread luncheon.



Free and plentiful around the building.



Meet and Mingle @ 10 -10:30 AM


Review of AUN Needs Assessment Survey

Review of OCLC Meeting @ Midwinter

Where do we go from here?

  • Hiring statewide coordinator
  • Training new AUN providers
  • AUN liaison meetings in the future

Presentation: Jessica Chaiken, NARIC

Presentation: LaJoy Mosby, Office of Minority Health Resource Center

Adjournment @ 1 PM







AUN Needs Assessment Results.pdf1.49 MB

March '14 Meeting Notes

Maryland AskUsNow!

Liaison Meeting Notes

Tuesday, March 11, 2014



Sonia Alcantara-Antoine, Interim Coordinator of AUN

Jessica Chaiken, NARIC

Jim DeArmey, Baltimore County Public Library

Josie Fiore, Prince Georges County Memorial Library System

Christopher McGee, Allegany County Library System

Catherine McGuire, Maryland State Law Library

Stephanie Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library

Susan Pluhar, Pratt/SLRC

Laura Powell, Caroline County Public Library

Ellen Ruoff, Calvert Library


Over the Phone:

Deborah Barlow, Howard County Public Library

Liz Beere, Carroll Community College Library

Suzy Bell, Cecil County Public Library

Liz Bowen, Frederick County Public Libraries

Amy Ford, St. Mary’s County Library

Suzanne Kuch, Charles County Public Library

Sue Tinanoff, Baltimore County Public Library


Review of Gail Griffith’s AUN Needs Assessment

While usage is down, questions are often difficult. Customers do not come to the service with quick, ready reference inquiries. 


The service is valued by library staff and liaisons.  There is a differentiation between public and academic library service philosophies.  Marketing keeps popping up in the assessment. Do people know about the service?  Librarians believe that the service has value.  


Strengths -  

  • 24/7
  • Interactive
  • Follow up is available
  • People don't have to identify who they are.
  • Can be done collaboratively as a state.  
  • Within Maryland there is good quality control.  Quality control may not be best on global side but we do a good job of it.  
  • Scripts are a strength.  
  • Policy pages are a great benefit.


Weaknesses -

  • Marketing.  
  • Need a more effective marketing plan - targeted.  
  • Can't co-browse.
  • Academic/Public dissonance.  Academics are uncomfortable with public questions. Public staff are concerned that they’re not able to help academic students enough.
  • Inability to answer local questions - ILS specific issues.
  • Technology is falling behind - needs to be updated.
  • May not be consistent buy-in across all partners.


Challenges -

  • Lack of marketing.
  • Don't have access to customer accounts.
  • No statewide ILS
  • Difficulty of working with customers in a virtual environment.
  • Skill building - staff not as adept when not enough time to learn.  Not all are brought in.  Some providers have problems covering scheduled hours.


Decline in use -

  • Library websites are more sophisticated so customers can find what they need online.
  • Marketing
  • Information literacy of customers has improved.
  • Staff - stats are more reliable now than they were before.


Need for overnight coverage -

  • We need to decide on this.  If not 24/7, how do we choose a schedule and how do we describe it to customers?  24/7 is easy.


Can we sustain staffing? –

  • Generally yes, some yes with difficulty, few no.


System specific questions -

  • Important to mention that you're a part of a consortium
  • Qwidget doesn't alert customers that they’re likely to get someone who is not from their home library system.


Is QuestionPoint used to potential? -

  • Co-bowse would be helpful
  • Qwidget has mobile implications


If AUN were a blank slate – how would/should it be administered? -

  • Move it to SLRC
  • Governance by MSDE
  • Keep Liaisons – a good system that has proven to be effective.
  • Need someone with dedicated time to support this project.  This opinion got strong support.
  • Liaisons also have other responsibilities/pressures that demand time.
  • The statewide coordinator position is open now. 


If there were no AskUsNow! what would you do? -

  • Look for alternatives.
  • Give up chat.
  • Most participants at the meeting didn't want to give up and would try to replicate AskUsNow! if it were to go away.


What would be part of an ideal service?  -

  • Co-browse
  • More interactivity - whiteboard, online classroom environment, Skype style video conferencing.
  • More accessible, easy to navigate.
  • More local resources easily available.


What else do you have to say? – 

  • Better marketing
  • More virtual group training sessions
  • One person to coordinate and advocate is important
  • Necessary for us go beyond our comfort level
  • We need to decide what success is. - redefine service going forward.


Issues and Opportunities -

  • Marketing
  • 24/7 - vs during and after hours
  • Customer expectations


Customer data –

  • Customers are generally satisfied and feel that service is excellent.
  • When asked “What best describes you?” more people responded “state resident” than “student.”   



Recap of OCLC Questionpoint Meeting at ALA

Maryland AskusNow! is a respected service among other big systems and users. AUN was invited to an OCLC focus group session at ALA Midwinter to discuss the software platform’s strengths and weaknesses.  Questionpoint has remained static in look and functionality for many years.


When asked about the current implementation of QuestionPoint, most in the room agreed that the software is clunky and feels dated compared to more modern interfaces.  Co-browse was mentioned frequently as something that people would like to have.  Search for transcripts of past sessions is difficult.  The knowledge base, while possibly useful, often does not contain the information needed.  This keeps it from being used. If it is not useful, is it necessary to maintain it?  An updated interface that includes different and more clearly organized views for admins and staff would be useful. A per-user customizable interface would be helpful so that each provider could have the most frequently used tools available.


When asked what features to include if QuestionPoint were completely scrapped and rebuilt, policy pages proved to be the most popular feature.  People at the meeting wanted them to be available but more attractive and clearly organized.  The fact that the service is available 24/7 was also viewed as one of the biggest strengths of the service.  All recognized that it is a good platform but that it is in need of updating to make it more attractive and easier to use.  The clunkiness of the software was recognized as a roadblock to staff training.


It is anticipated that OCLC will be using information gathered from the focus group session to make improvements to Questionpoint.



Priorities for a new statewide AskUsNow! coordinator

The position has been posted and Pratt is accepting applications.  The group identified key priorities for the new AUN statewide coordinator once hired.


Training is a key issue for new and ongoing providers.  We need to address the academic point of view – especially if academic libraries are concerned that their users aren’t receiving sufficient help from public library staff. Many at the table felt that the new coordinator should address the issue that we cannot provide sufficient help to many customers, particularly those from some academic libraries, because we do not have access to their research databases. In some cases even the list of available databases is hidden behind a login.  We want to be able to do a better job of this.  The issue of providing access to databases to AUN staff is a legal interpretation of the contract between the library and the database vendor.  While we cannot change our ability to use the databases, we may be able to provide more access to information about available databases at those libraries to all AUN providers.


There was a suggestion that the new coordinator set up a program to increase awareness and cooperation between academic and public librarians so that we can provide better service to users.  A job shadowing “day in the life of...” program might be useful. Some sort of buddy system might work.  We would need to decide if this would be a program between liaisons only or possibly between any staff at AUN libraries who might want to participate.


Other recommendations for the new coordinator included:

  • Review and pare content on Inner Harbor
  • Do stats on site performance, possibly using google analytics or page reads from the Drupal content management system.
  • Possibly do a user survey.
  • Reestablish connections with liaisons
  • Marketing - Distribute existing marketing materials. We have tried trinkets and tchotchkes. We need to try something else and develop a more coordinated plan.  Review the requirement to put the AskUsNow! logo on the home page of partner library websites.



Other points

  • Customers who use it do love the service.  
  • AskUsNow! is still grant funded through DLDS.
  • New providers training is needed but all agreed that this could wait until after the beginning of summer.  



Next meeting

The next liaison meeting is scheduled for June 10, 2014 in Washington County. Volunteers libraries are needed to host the September meeting.   



Respectfully submitted by Jim DeArmey

September 2013 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

September 10th, 2013
10:30 AM- 3:00 PM

Anne Arundel County- Crofton Branch Library
1681 Reidel Road, Crofton, MD 21114
Branch phone: 410-222-7915

Click here to attend virtually.

Lunch Options

For those bringing their own lunch, there is a kitchen with a refrigerator and microwave available in the meeting room.

There are a number of options available on Crain Highway, including:

Otani Japanese Cuisine

Five Guys (online ordering is available)

Dickey's Barbeque Pit


*Email Jim DeArmey if you have something you'd like discussed / addressed at the meeting!*

  • Introductions and announcements
    • ​Who's taking notes?
  • ​​AskUsNow! transition after Julie’s departure - What process is in place?
  • Inactive QuestionPoint accounts - How should we go about identifying and deleting those that will no longer be needed?
  • Email communication, Mdaskusnow email list and liaison emails on Inner Harbor – Making sure that people are getting the information and messages that they need.
  • AskUsNow goes mobile – A review of how it works.
  • Off-hours staffing and general scheduling issues – open discussion to identify any issues or problems
  • New Inner Harbor changes

Break for lunch

  • AskUsNow! Futuring – Focus group led by Gail Griffith


September '13 Meeting Notes

September 2013 AUN Liaison Meeting Notes

In Crofton:

Cathy Wetmore, Montgomery County
Christopher McGee, Allegany County
Debbie Barlow, Howard County
Dennis Nangle, DLDS
Ellen Ruoff, Calvert County
Erika Hodge Harris, Community College of Baltimore County
Jeanette Edward, St. Mary’s County
Jim DeArmey, Baltimore County/AUN
John Krivak, Prince George’s County
Josie Fiore, Prince George’s County
Kendra Frost, Harford County
Laura Powell, Caroline County
Nina Parikh, Anne Arundel County
Sue Tinanoff, Baltimore County
Susan Pluhar, EPFL, SLRC
Suzanne Bell, Cecil County
Suzanne Kuch, Charles County

In attendance online:
Christine McKinney, Carroll County
Jan Thomas, NOAA
Joyce Garczynski, Towson University
Laksamee Putnam – Towson University
Liz Beere – Carroll Community College
Liz Bowen, Frederick County
Metta Lash, Montgomery College
Mou Chakraborty, Salisbury University

AskUsNow Transition after Julie’s departure –

Dennis Nangle gave some information on what process is in place during this period of transition.  The service started as a joint project between Harford and Baltimore counties.  During the time that AskUsNow! has been a statewide service, it has been grant funded with BCPL serving as the grant manager.  Ever since Julie announced her resignation there has been much discussion about where AskUsNow! is going.  Recently a group of people including Irene Padilla, Jim Fish, Dennis Nangle, Wesley Wilson and Jim DeArmey met to discuss the future management of the service.  Gail Griffith will be working as a consultant to this group in the effort to develop a new service model for the future direction of AskUsNow!  Information about that process will be communicated as it becomes available.

Jim DeArmey will serve as the interim project manager, with the assistance of Sue Tinanoff. During this period we will continue to monitor performance, review transcripts and respond to survey comments.  We will not initiate any new projects until the future direction of AskUsNow! has been more clearly determined.  

Inactive QuestionPoint accounts –

Due to staffing changes over the years AskUsNow! has many inactive QuestionPoint accounts.  We have 700 accounts but a recent poll indicates that we have only 420 active providers. Liaisons are asked to review the account list for their agencies and delete any accounts for people who have are no longer providing service. To preserve statistical information, accounts should be deleted only if they have been inactive for at least 90 days.  The process is straightforward. Jim will send out a set of instructions to the liaisons list and will post the instructions on the Inner Harbor site.

Email communication, Mdaskusnow email list and liaison information on Inner Harbor –

The liaison contact information on the Inner Harbor site has some inaccuracies, particularly with email addresses.  Liaisons are asked to verify that information for their agency is accurate. In addition, the group email list has become bloated over time.  Jim will send a message to the list asking recipients who want to be removed from the list to reply with that information. need to make sure that Jim has their current information and that the information is correct on Inner Harbor. Jim also wants to clean up the membership on the listservs. Jim will send out a message asking if members want to stay on the list. Also, send information name and email information to Jim for anyone who should be added to the list.

MD AUN! Goes Mobile

Some issues with the mobile interface were discussed.  Liz Bowen heard from a customer the cell phone timed out while waiting for the librarian to respond.  Jim forward that input to QP. The suggestion was made that there be a second clock added somewhere on the provider screen, letting them know how many seconds have passed since they actively communicated with the customer. We may pull together a group to prepare some best practice tips for how to give better service to qwidget/mobile interface customers.

Kendra Frost asked for a clarification of the difference between qwidget and mobile interface. John Krivak explained that all mobile sessions are qwidget but not all qwidget sessions come from mobile devices.

Off-Hour Staffing and Scheduling Issues –

The group had an open discussion on scheduling and after hours coverage. These points were made.

  • Over time our commitment to providing local coverage during evening hours has waned.  
  • Reduced staffing makes covering Saturdays hours more difficult.  
  • Use stats are highest during hours that the libraries are open.  Jim will share use stats. With the group.
  • CCBC reviewed use patterns and adjusted schedules to cover more morning hours.
  • Allegheny County has a staff of one who doesn't work nights or weekends. Off hour coverage is not an option.
  • Questions concerning local library policy and customer accounts are often those that receive negative survey responses.  Many of these questions come via the qwidget.
  • John Krivak mentioned an effort several years ago to explore the possibility of having a group of paid Maryland/local providers to provide after hours coverage.  This plan did not move forward due to issues of of training, supervision, and – primarily - cost. Dennis Nangle will investigate the possibility of volunteer coverage from local library school students. There are some volunteers who have been trained and are currently providing service.  It may be necessary to wait to take on new people until the future plan for AskUsNow! has been formulated and put into place. Volunteers are free but they do come with costs in terms of training, supervision, etc.
  • John also suggested the possibility that AUN providers be given access to the circulation/catalog systems at other libraries – similar to the way we allow provide barcodes to allow providers to access databases licensed by a customer’s home library system.  
  • Staffing has always been an issue.  Dennis Nangle noted that it is a chicken and egg situation. We want more staff to do more, but we can’t show sufficient use to justify that.
  • Many liaisons mentioned that their AUN! logo seems to be getting lost on the library website. Dennis will be attending the annual library marketing meeting and will have that put on the agenda. Dennis is cautiously optimistic about hhis ability to get the directors' and marketers' attention.

The points from this discussion will be forwarded to Gail Griffith to use in her analysis of the service.  

AskUsNow! Futuring – Focus group led by Gail Griffith.

As part of the process to develop a service model for AskUsNow! Gail Griffith visited the group during the second half of the meeting. She posed several questions and noted participants responses the questions are included below.  Liaisons who have additional input concerning these questions should email comments to Gail by October ________

1. How do your library’s customers benefit from AUN?  (Be specific)

  • Would you consider it a high-, medium-, or low-value service to your user community?  What makes you say that?

2. Looking at AUN overall, what are its strengths?  What does it do very well?

3. What are the weaknesses of AUN?  What challenges those who provide the service?

4. If AUN didn’t exist, what would your library do?  

  • Are there other ways your library already serves online customers?
  • What should the role of the statewide library community be in providing services to online customers?

5. Statistics show us that usage has been declining overall.  What do you think the reasons for this are?

6. How critical do you think it is to provide overnight coverage?  

7. Can your library sustain the level of staffing it contributes to AUN?  

8. How well do you feel system-specific questions are handled?  (questions about holds, renewals, that kind of thing)

9. Do you think QuestionPoint is being used to its potential?  What makes you say that?

10. If AUN were a blank slate, how would it be administered?  Imagine your ideal.

  • How does that compare to how it has been administered?

11. Now think about creating a service that did not depend on QuestionPoint or similar software.  

  • What would your ideal service look like?
  • How would your online customers best experience your library?


Thank you to Debbie Barlow (HOWA) for taking notes at the meeting!



June 2013 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Caroline County Public Library
100 Market Street, Denton MD
Branch phone: 410-479-1343

The library is closed to the public on Tuesdays.  If you need to call the library the morning of the meeting, please call Amanda's cell phone, 410-739-0495.

ENTERING THE LIBRARY: One of the doors of the parking lot entrance will be open for the meeting.  Take the elevator to the second floor, and go to your right to the Large Meeting Room.

View Larger Map



Please park in the parking lot off of Franklin Street (this is the only unmetered parking available).

Lunch Options

For those bringing their own lunch, there is a kitchen with a refrigerator and microwave available in the meeting room.

Within walking distance:

  • Sub Station: Located across Franklin Street from the library in the Bargain Beverage store/gas station.  Delicious subs at an affordable price! 
  • Lily Pad Café:  Located one block from the library at 104 South 2nd Street.  Fresh salads & sandwiches; check out their menu here:
  • Market Street Pub:  Located one block from the library at 200 Market Street.  Traditional pub food; check out their menu here:

Fast food options within a five minute drive:

  • McDonald’s, Arby’s, & Burger King:  Located on Sixth Street.  Follow Franklin Street (one way street) five blocks, and turn left on Sixth Street.  Follow for about a mile; all three fast food restaurants are located near the 404 Bypass.
  • Subway/Dunkin Donuts:  Located on 404.  Follow Franklin Street from the library parking lot to 404 (about 9 blocks); merge right onto 404.  Subway/Dunkin Donuts is located on the left at the first traffic light.


*Email Julie if you have something you'd like discussed / addressed at the meeting!*

  • Welcome
    • who's taking notes?
  • Introductions w/ Round the Table
  • Follow-up from March 2013 Meeting
    • QP feature addition request: confirmation for END SESSION 
    • Scripts
    • "Personal Interest" Descriptive Code
    • Quality Checklist
  • Announcements, Admin & Project Updates
    • What's on Julie's final TDL?
    • 10th Anniversary Celebrations
      • Regionals - when?
      • "Company Picnic" - need a team!
  • Transcript Review (Activity)

June '13 Meeting Notes

In Denton

Julie Strange, AskUsNow! Statewide Coordinator
Debbie Barlow, Howard County Library System
Kendra Frost, Harford County Public Library
Suzy Bell, Cecil County Public Library
Susan Pluhar, SLRC/EPFL
Laksamee Putnam, Towson University (new partners!)
Ann Reed, University of Maryland, Eastern Shore
Amanda Courie, Caroline County
Stephanie Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library
Laura Powell, Caroline County Public Library
Erika Hodge Harris, Community College of Baltimore County


Chris McGee, Allegany College
Jan Thomas, NOAA
Liz Bowen, Frederick County
Mandy Hackley, Salisbury
Sarah, Calvert Library
Susan Tinanoff, BCPL
Suzie Kuch, Charles County
Theresa Mastrodonato, Frostburg State University

Notified Absence

John Krivak- PGCMLS
Jess Chaiken - NARIC
Elizabeth Hulett - WashCo
Sue Bonsteel - Stevenson University
Liz Beere - Carroll CC
Amy Ford - St. Mary's


Thank you to Amanda Courie and Caroline County for hosting us!

Introductions & 'Round the Table

  • On July 25 Frostburg is hosting an American FactFinder Seminar, informing local libraries about the US Census Community Service data – free with snacks!
  • Cecil County got the first MLA Presidential Award for Customer Services for their Small Business/Science Cafe, which helped Dr. John Buckman, trauma surgeon, develop a medical “virtual patient” that helps train/assist doctors on battlefields as well as in remote areas worldwide. (
  • Harford County System is gradually going to a new customer-service model, with more self-checkout, more roving reference assistance and cross-functional help desks.
  • EPFL is about to proceed with a Central Library renovation (2014) that will.
  • AACPL finally got funding and land grant for a new Annapolis Library which is sorely needed.
  • UMES, Frederick Douglass Library has been put on the new University-president's list of priorities for funding for a new building in the next ten years
  • Julie's last day will be August 30, 2013. The main reason is so that she can spend more time with her family. She will still be local and teaching at the University of Maryland. There is some awesome progress that is going to be made with AUN! in the next couple of years and Julie is confident of the support of DLDS, particularly with the recent appointment of Dennis Nangle, (2nd under Irene).


  • We discussed the overall marketing of the service and the sort of fading level of attention that AUN! manages to get when there are so many “new wizbang” things out there that our institutions are promoting. Erika encouraged us to think outside the box in terms of promotions. They used snack cakes in a “AUN! is a piece of cake” promotion in their library just before Spring Break. Ann R. is working up a poster session for a college fair.
  • BTW, Julie still has highlighters and post-it-notes, if more are needed at any partner library.
  • Erika wondered about cross-branding highlighters (or pencils) with the institutional logo/info. YES! Julie can provide the contact information for the vendor she works with, or any logos or imprints that might be needed.
  • Has everyone gotten all of the marketing materials they asked for? Julie has some stuff available—posters, bookmarks (actually not too many), new highlighters and post it notes. So if people want more stuff, contact Julie. BTW, Erika got rid of a lot of stuff (bookmarks!) at Maryland Day where we saw over 90k attendees!

Rockstar Award

Should we keep doing this? People like the idea, but haven't seen any real “rock star” transcripts. There are nominations of great transcripts, but they are just doing the job well, not necessarily stellar. Although it is nice to be recognized for doing your job, there haven’t been many outstanding one-shot transcripts nominated. Some liaisons offer in-house awards to those who are consistently providing excellent service. At this point, maybe we should table this award for the time being. Julie will remove the descriptor option and nomination form and will set for 6 months from now (December meeting?).

Stephanie suggested that AUN providers be profiled on a regular basis to meet the original recognition goal of the award – with the added bonus of allowing providers across the state to get to know each other better. Julie thinks that is the idea that will take hold when this is next looked at.


Liz wondered if anyone else was having staffing/coverage issues. Amanda, Caroline Co, mentioned that they were down three staff during this last year and still covering their hours. Ann, UMES, was also down a couple of positions, but their director really wanted them to keep covering all of the hours. Julie mentioned that if anyone needs to back off of hours, either temporarily or permanently, speak to her and she will work around it. Committed global hours need to be always covered, but anyone can always cover global, if the states’ is slow. Julie hasn't run a hour-by-hour busy-ness report for several years, but she is open to changing around the schedule if folks are noticing that some of their hours are particularly slow.

Is anyone else having problems with people not showing up for their shifts? Every once in a while, Ann mentioned that she and her one other staff occasionally have trouble covering, but these are usually handled in-house or via the liaison requests. Different institutions handle this differently. Some folks have permanently assigned “backups” for each hour they cover. Some folks have hours assigned to groups of providers and the ball occasionally gets dropped. There is a way to login and see if someone is currently logged on as a provider, but there isn't really anyway to confirm that someone WAS covering, unless that actually were and picked up a session.

March Meeting Follow-up

  • At the last meeting, a request was submitted for a “confirmation” when the “End Session” button is clicked in the librarian interface. The feature request is on QP's list, but no date has been given for implementation.
  • Scripts – we have the ability to put in our own Individual scripts, and Local scripts, and we have a ton of Institutional scripts. The list is way too cumbersome. We discussed whether Julie should just edit them, or whether we need to. Julie will take the scripts as we have them and put the list on Inner Harbor, she will create a survey that asks which ones are used, not, or not care about at all. She will also put out a reminder about how to add favorite scripts into your own personal list. She will give people two weeks to respond then start her weeding process.
  • “Personal Interest” Descriptive Code – in the March meeting we reviewed the use of these codes and wanted to know what falls into the Personal Interest category. One of Julie's new summer interns was going to work on this but has shifted directions. Anyone interested to take on this project (provider, liaison, volunteer, work study student, etc) should contact Julie.  If not, it will wait until the Interns in the Fall. Do we really have a pressing need to break-out more categories from that category? So if we have an intern that is interested, we'll do it, if not, not. This can be filed under “of interest” and not so much “needs doing.”
  • Quality Checklist – Julie is going to consolidate all “expected behaviors” and customer-service benchmarks in one list that we can use to do reviews and training and mark expectations. This will be done by Julie prior to her departure in August.

10th Anniversary Celebrations

Finally the appropriate approvals for some “official” regional celebrations (Central, Western, Shore, and Southern)—a political, marketing, hi-profile event(s). What kinds of things do we want to see at these regional events? Julie is looking to solidify dates before week’s end so the planning can begin.

In addition, we will have a “company picnic” weekend-day potluck (or pizza) party sometime this Summer, no later than mid-August. So, when and where? Sundays sound better as many libraries are still open on Saturday. Beaver Dam Swimming Club, Cockeysville? Carroll County? Patapsco, HoCo? Downes Park, PG? Sarah mentioned which is like evite, but really good at managing potlucks. Julie will tap Joe for his Maryland park information and then get the ball rolling on the planning. Anyone interested in planning this event, should contact Julie asap.

Creation of an Advisory Board?

Julie would like us to have an “advisory board” that would help steer the direction of AUN and provide further integration and buy-in with the partner organizations. Dennis is on board with this. What would their role be? We have occasions where decisions need to be made but the Liaisons aren't necessarily in the “power positions” that could really implement stuff, but would be on the same level as the Liaisons. This would help with “future of AUN!” things that we've “brainstormed” and were supposed to go to a “future of AUN! committee” that never got off the ground due to lack of staffing at DLDS and other roadblocks. But would the Liaisons lose some control with that idea? Maybe a “foundation” or a “friends” group that would help with funding, but be out of our business? There are also opportunities... But we want to look for a solution that provides a sustainability in terms of funding and staffing. Julie really also felt we need something to provide decision-making “buy in” on the state level. Erika expressed concerned about the situation with both Cathay and now Julie being gone when they were the brains and bones of AskUsNow!--doing training, marketing, grant-writing, managing. There is an “if I get hit by a bus” document that Julie started when she first came on board. BCPL also picks up a lot of slack for office support/management (mailings, basic office space and supplies, etc.). Concern was expressed that we couldn't get the power-players without providing the power. So maybe an “Advisory Board” is more what we are looking for. Julie is looking to attract Library Directors, decision-making folks. She’ll revisit this with Dennis before he takes it to MAPLA. Suggestions and comments are welcome.

New Staff Training

There are a couple of new-provider training upcoming. July 10th is full. July 12th is for new partner Towson University. Two trainings on Thursday July 18th are first for MCPL and then extra seats will be open to the state. There will probably be another training in August. Anyone who has new staff or needs people trained are asked to submit names and emails to Julie for the "needs training" list.

Also, Julie can create a new login for folks that are only handling email follow-up. In-house training is really sufficient for those folks, though Julie can do a one-on-one training for those individuals as needed.

Stats & Qwidget

Reports & Stats have been updated as of the end of May 2013.

Incoming chat stats are generally lower. This is due somewhat to lack of marketing. There have also been a lot of improvements to local webpages, including moves by some to LibAnswers (including BCPL about 2 years ago) that are causing customers to ask less questions (not a bad thing if they can figure things out on their own now). Those institutions that have been using the Qwidget have had bumps in their stats. Julie has those listed on the IH Qwidget Info page. January stats on that list are the baseline, because full implementation didn't happen until February 2013. Of course, AACPL numbers were crazy good early on because they did a Nook promotion/contest.

Kendra mentioned that some people have recommended the qwidget be placed 404 and other error pages.

Julie reminded folks that you don't necessarily need a lot of website real estate for the qwidget, because you can use the AUN! logo to launch the qwidget in a pop-up window or any number of other web design things.

Interns Update

Spring Interns Walter, Graham, and Kaitlin have wrapped up. All three chatted, all three expressed interest in continuing as volunteers. Walter wrote a white paper / report on an under-served populations white paper. Kaitlin was working on training scripts, and in the end we decided, instead, to go with a flow-chart option instead to best help the chatting librarian and person pretending to be the customer (these are forthcoming). Graham got the framework for our drupal installation of up and running. Julie will be putting the finishing touches on to launch before she leaves.

Summer Interns Fiona, KJ, and Spring are coming on board. All will chat, as per usual. Fiona will be helping out with the “Ask” campaign. Spring will be working with Drupal and helping our Refresher Training Team with the revamp of the Help & Support area of the Inner Harbor.

New Partners

Towson University, YAY!

And, soon, Maryland Non-Profits. MNP need to get set up and trained and will work similarly to NOAA in that they will be handling their own questions through their own queue.

What is on Julie's final To Do List?

Julie is looking to finish / get rolling the following items before her departure in August:

  1. Finish the work with the Refresher Training Team. Julie will give the committee a nudge.
  2. DLDS Document to be ready for MAPLA – a survey of VR coordinators about funding model, membership model, staffing model, etc. so that we see some of the options out there for change-ups to AUN in the future. Document is in the works and will be available on the IH when drafted / finished. Other coordinators are needing these documents as well. Julie is working with Carla from Ask MN for this first iteration.
  3. launch on drupal (based on Intern Graham's work) which will include the mobile site with qwidgets as per her Q1 plan
  4. Plan and pull off the 10th anniversary events
  5. Submit 2014 budget (awaiting information from Dennis as of this writing)
  6. Update Julie's "how to" book that she's been keeping for seven years
  7. Launch ASK campaign if possible
  8. Hire replacement
  9. Get started on the final grant report to make it easier for the next person.


Meeting ended at 3pm. Thanks to Debbie Barlow, Howard County, for taking the notes!

March 2013 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, March 12, 2012
10:30am - 3pm

Urbana Regional Library, Frederick County Public Libraries
9020 Amelung Street, Frederick, MD 21704

The library opens at 10am. If you arrive earlier, you'll enter from the back entrance. The back doors will be open & the meeting room is directly on the right hand side.


Click to participate virtually.


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Plenty! Free!


The Library is located right next to a shopping center that’s in short walking distance. It has: Chopstix, Atlantic Grill, Subway and a Starbucks inside a Giant Food store.

Within driving distance a few blocks away is a Waffle House, 7 Eleven, Dunkin Donuts, Mangia e Bevi (Italian), McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Fosters Grill.

Of course, bringing your own lunch is al


March 2013 Liaison Meeting Notes

In Attendance

Julie Strange - AskUsNow!
Chris McGee - Allegany County
Stephanie Petruso - Anne Arundel County
John Krivak - Prince George's County
Susan Pluhar - Pratt/SLRC
Mimi Bolotin - Montgomery County
Liz Bowen - Frederick County & this month's hostess
Elizabeth Hulett - Washington County
Sue Bonsteel - Stevenson Uni
Sarah Avant - Calvert County
Jim Lynch - Baltimore City CC
Erika Harris - CC of Baltimore County
Kendra Frost - Harford County


Amanda Courie - Caroline County
Liz Beere - Carroll CC
Amy Ford - St. Mary's County
Mo Chakraborty - Salisbury Uni
Theresa Mastrodonato - Frostburg Uni
Christy McKinney - Carroll County
Dennis Nangle - DLDS
Jan Thomas - NOAA
Suzy Bell - Cecil County
Meta Lash - Montgomery College
Sue Tinanoff - Baltimore County
Suzanne Kuch - Charles County

Notified Absence

Cathay Crosby - AUN
Deborah Barlow - Howard County
Margie Rhoden - Calvert County
Karen Neville - Worcester County

Announcements & Round the Table

  • Cathay Crosby (AUN)  will be with AUN 2 more months.  Dennis (DLDS) is investigating the possibilities this opening creates.
  • Karen Neville, Worcester County Library is preparing 10th Anniversary AUN candy wrappers which will be donated.  The library will purchase candies to be wrapped.
  • Margie Rhoden, Calvert Library, will retire at the end of the fiscal year.  Her replacement remains to be announced.
  • Mimi Bolotin, Montgomery County Public Library, will transition away from her AUN duties.  Her replacement remains to be announced.
  • Frederick County Public Library has a new website design.  The AUN link is consistently on the bottom of all pages.
  • Cecil County Public Library will have a 10th Anniversary cake for the public.

Admin Updates

10th Anniversary

The Ask Campaign is a photo campaign. 

  • Seek photos of people (customers or staff) holding a white board or piece of paper with a question. 
  • Details are online.
  • You can begin submitting photos now, there is no deadline. 
  • The photos will be branded and will be available for use online or to print for marketing.
  • Some photos may become physical posters.
  • A release form is available online.  You may use your institution form instead, if it applies to outside institution use.
  • The campaign originated at ALA but will take time to launch.  We are piloting the campaign.
  • The questions can be real or promotional.   When approaching customers you may wish to have sample questions written for them to select from.

AskUsNow! Month

  • Begins in March, but will remain ongoing as long as the energy lasts.
  • Details are online.
  • A list of local activity ideas can be found in the Inner Harbor.  Try to do at least one activity from this list each week.
  • A list of challenges is also available, try to do at least one of these if you can.
  • Brand any online actions with #askusnow10 so it can be tracked.

AskUsNow! Swag

  • Ordered rulers, highlighters, and post it notes.  Posters, bookmarks, and magnets remain.
  • Academic libraries would like rulers in the future.
  • Julie has contacted your marketing representative to see how many of each you’ll need.
  • There is no statewide marketing group for academic libraries.  Each institution has their own marketing group.

Statewide Event

  • No public event approved at this time.
  • A press release about the 10th Anniversary will go out once approved.
  • Julie is looking for volunteers to participate in planning a summertime celebration and thank you for staff.


There are three interns this semester. All interns do 1-2 hours weekly on chat as well as a project:

  • Walter – Will identify non-users and the reasons for such.  He will look at how we can address this issue.
  • Caitlyn – Will participate on the Refresher Training Team and will draft script scenarios which cover multiple competencies for practice.
  • Graham – Will move the AUN customer portal to Drupal.  The search mechanism for the staff site will also be evaluated.


  • The qwidget now rolls questions up to the state level.  Some libraries have enabled the qwidget on their site.  Some libraries have tested it but have not enabled it at this time. List of libraries here.
  • There is no requirement to use the qwidget.
  • An implementation guide is available, as well as information about 508 compliance, statistics, and a list of who went live, when, and on what pages. 
  • If you are not included in the “Live” list please email Julie the go live date and a list of pages the qwidget is on.
  • There is a known issue with the sizing of the mobile qwidget on Android.  QP is working on a new release.
  • Those who find the qwidget window too small may use the minimize/maximize icon to "pop out" and enlarge the qwidget, after a question has been asked.
  • The qwidget does not push pages to customers as our regular interface does but the URLs sent are clickable and will open in a new window/tab.
  • A customer may accidentally navigate away from the page or refresh the page, this closes the session.  Look for your lost customers in the queue if they return.
  • Facebook implementation is also possible.  You may wish to involve your web person in house for help dropping the secure files needed to launch in FB.  The QP documentation is not completely up to date; you may contact them or Julie for help.  The AUN Facebook page does have the feature successfully enabled.
  • In the near future the page will be coded to push users to the mobile page/local lib qwidget.
  • Observations - Washington County has found the most frequent questions are genealogy; Prince Georges has found about half of their questions come from the qwidget; Some customers don’t realize they might not be accessing a local librarian; Some customers are less patient when using the qwidget; Anne Arundel put their qwidget on their catalog pages and has found they get many title questions; Missing email addresses from qwidget questions prevents follow up; Qwidget is reaching people who may not use the service otherwise;       

Project Updates

Marketing Team

  • The Social Media team and Targeted Marketing teams have been combined into the Marketing Team.  The team is investigating such questions as, what time of day should posts be pushed and how to phrase said updates.  An update is coming soon from Cathay.
  • The Ask Campaign is part of the Marketing Teams' work.

Refresher Training Team

  • Have been having online/virtual meetings to identify the areas of training need.
  • They have found that the information users seek exists in the Inner Harbor but is often found on the new staff training pages or buried in the blog.
  • They are identifying how to pull the pieces together into a new “Learning Center” which would contain both new and refresher training items.
  • Ideally the Learning Center will be searchable and limitable.
  • The Refresher Team with Intern Kaitlin will be doing a content audit for issues such as currency, location, and tags of documents.
  • Blog posts or single link posts are not listed in the help/support section.  We discussed ideas for migrating these items.
    • Suggestions included road mapping the site, completing an inventory of all of the pages (but what about the individual blog posts?), click counts to identify frequently used pages.

Discussion: Rock Star Nominations

  • Should we reconsider the Rock Star program or make changes?
  • The purpose of the program is to reward staff for good work, provide examples of excellent services, and to promote AUN internally.
  • Staff receives an award certificate, letter, and trophy.  Their system Director also receives a letter.
  • The program is okay, as is.  But the following suggestions were made:
    • Remind staff that the program is on a rolling deadline, you can nominate at any time.
    • Encourage nominations by liaisons and by staff (of their own or other transcripts).
    • Promote nominations
      • Use the form on the website
      • Use the Rock Star descriptive code on a session
      • Email Julie and Cameron Caswell (AACPL) to nominate
    • Clarify the criteria.  Must staff hit every criteria?  Now, the listed criteria are items the review committee looks for, but to be a winner it is not necessary for every criteria to be covered.
  • The group discussed the importance of the reference interview.   It is arguably the most important and the most neglected part of a reference transaction.  A simple question like, “Just to be clear…” or “What about _____ do you want to know?” can prevent simple miscommunications.

Discussion: Statewide Script Review

  • In chat scripts are listed in order: personal, institutional, and statewide.
  • Scripts help in chat and show an example of the tone to set.
  • We want to review scripts to cull what isn’t needed and to tweak the language for tone and relevancy.
  • We will:
    • Run a report to find out which scripts are most frequently used (only will work if language isn’t changed)
    • Send out a poll and encourage all providers to indicate which scripts they use.
  • Scripts will be removed, but the list will remain on the Inner Harbor.  Those who miss specific scripts can add them to their personal scripts.
  • If there is a lot of feedback about specific scripts those can be reinstated.
  • If reviews are necessary John (PGCMLS), Susan (Pratt/SLRC), and Sue (BCPL) will help.

Descriptive Code Review

  • About a year ago descriptive codes were implemented (different from resolution codes) to identify types of sessions.
  • 31% of codes from Feb 2012-2013 had codes attached.  It is unclear at this time whether that matches with the percentage of Maryland questions we answer in Maryland.  The 24/7 Cooperative recommends you only use descriptive codes on questions from your own (Maryland) customers.
  • In many cases category codes are used when the customer self discloses their situation (ex. “homework” or “student”) but in some situations the librarian makes an assumption.
  • A possible project for later would be to assess the use of the Personal Interest code.  What trends exist? What kinds of things live in here?
  • A research project idea would be to identify the relationship between the codes and transcripts, answering the question, would different people code the same session different ways?
  • These codes are not to catch the long tail of the stats, but to identify the bulk of questions.
  • Are we seeing the results we expected because those are the codes we opted to include?
  • The statistics show multiple codes for some sessions.  Were these codes placed in any priority?  Does it matter if they were?
  • The code Library Account Access should be changed to Library Account to more accurately reflect its intent.
  • If a transcript is marked for follow up by either the customer library or the provider, then the system retains the question until it is coded answered.  If you’ve followed up with the customer, by not through the system please note this in the transcript and code the session as complete.

Quality Checklist

A checklist was requested a while ago. It's coming.

  • Ideas for a quality checklist when working with out of state customers
    • Check the policy page
    • Use their systems hello/good-bye scripts
    • When to explain to a customer you’re from MD and assisting their staff and when to just provide help as if you are from the other system.
    • When another library is logged in but not picking up their customer questions remember they may be helping other customers in person.  Not all systems are able to provide dedicated service and may be working a desk or phone system at the same time.
    • The IM system for transferring customers is not intuitive and can be a barrier for getting local service.
    • Mark questions for follow up only when there is a way to follow up and when there is another way to help the customer (for example, don’t mark a question for follow up if the policy page specifically answers the question.).  Some transcripts may be marked follow up by newer staff that are not comfortable in the knowledge that they have offered a customer a complete answer.


Thank you to Sarah Avant (Calvert) and Erika Harris (CCBC) for taking notes.

December 2012 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
10:30am - 3pm

Smithsburg Branch, Washington County Free Library
66 West Water Street
Smithsburg MD 21783

Click to participate virtually.

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there's plenty!


You may want to bring your own or buy on the way to the library.


  • Welcome & Introductions
  • Announcements
  • The Service Expansion Initiative
  • Planning the 10th Anniversary Celebration
  • Updates - Refresher Training, Social Media, & Schools teams
  • October 12th data fixed
  • Marketing materials - we have a budget now!
  • (Sue) Questions from non-participating libraries
  • Security issue with QP - what happened and how to avoid it


December 2012 Liaison Meeting Notes

Present in Person

  • Sue Bonsteel, Stevenson
  • Debbie Barlow, Howard County
  • Kendra Frost, Harford County
  • Elizabeth Hulett, Washington County
  • Susan Pluhar, Pratt/SLRC
  • Stephanie Petruso, Anne Arundel County
  • John Krivak, Prince George's County
  • Erika Harris, CCBC
  • Cathay Crosby, AUN
  • Julie Strange, AUN

Present virtually

  • Jan Lathrop, AACC
  • Catherine McGuire, Maryland State Law Library
  • Meta Lash, Montgomery College
  • Jim Lynch, BCCC
  • Liz Beere, Carroll County Community College
  • Liz Bowen, Frederick County
  • Mandy Hackley, Salisbury University
  • Sara Stephenson, St. Mary's County
  • Jan Thomas, NOAA
  • Suzanne Kuch, Charles County
  • Theresa Mastrodonato, Frostburg State
  • Margie Rhoden, Calvert County
  • Sue Tinanoff, Baltimore County


Round the Table

  • Erika visited the new AACC Library in Arnold. Lots of great features like 20 group meeting rooms fully outfitted with equipment, great fireplace nook that is very popular with students says Jan. The groups study rooms are strictly for student use i.e. faculty cannot reserve or use them. They allow food, which Jan regrets. They are still finishing the punch list and getting used to their new digs.
  • Kendra say Harford Co has found money so that they can reopen on Sundays. They've expanded their programming on Sunday as well to sort of promote the new hours.
  • Question about non-participating libraries. Doesn't come up very often, but how do we handle it? Should non-participants be able to link to the service? Can we require that they provide a minimum of contact info so that we can find someone on their staff to provide Followup? There are really only a few libraries that do this. Is it really worth pursuing? We could, perhaps, add a policy page for these that provides a minimum of info, but it requires someone to monitor their individual queues. Julie thinks that the current mode of forwarding the transcripts to the contacts they've gathered is working well enough.


AUN Service Expansion Initiative

See the DRAFT document for details (ignore dates). See below for discussion that happened at the meeting. See Julie if you have questions.

Embeddable Widget / Mobile Interface

We have the ability to use the embedded widget interface. This embedded-able interface is also moble accessible.

Julie would like us to get the widget up on our websites ASAP. Julie is working on the wrapper for the mobile app/site for AUN and can discuss local options/design as needed.

The widget takes customer barriers away in terms of the amount of stuff they have to enter, but you can't push pages to the customers, just send them links that they can open in another window. We can require that an email address is entered in our widget.

The quidget is hosted by QP so we don't have to set anything up on our server.

Currently the quidget works on all apple, android, and windows phones.

If we need specs and screen shots Julie has those, but the base doc is fairly simplified for the presentation to MAPLA on January 23. (the one online now is a draft)

Julie will send to us before and after stats for institutions that have implemented this.

Suzanne asked if there is a difference in the size or detail of the initial question. No. The conversation starts differently (with a hello instead of jumping right to the question, but the kinds of questions asked hasn't changed.

Suzanne mentioned that one of the ideal places to put it would be on the databases page. If people are already there to use them, any consortium provider should be able to guide customers through using those.

The quidget is completely accessible.

All sessions appear the same on the librarian side in terms of resolution and descriptive codes and Followup. The customer can enter email at anytime, and the complete transcript (at the end) will be sent no matter when it is enter.

It is possible to offer both interfaces.

Individual Institution Queue

Second piece is the idea of the individualized queue. It is free until December 31, 2012 and can be set up in a few days. After that, it will be only $500 for the year, (50% discount) if we want to active and use it. So, if we want to answer more of our own customers, this would be a good way to channel them directly to us. If we don't have the individualized queue, things will work as usual.

Kendra wonders how and when to let her Admin know about this. Whenever!


Team Updates

School Partnerships

There are three on the committee and they'd welcome more. They've been very busy. They've developed a  Class Visit Tool Kit and asked us to promote the kit at back-to-school night and other related events. So far only a couple of partners have "promoted" it in any way. We'd really like to market this as a way to forge relationships with school teachers. The committee is developing a YouTube video demo for teachers.

Teachers often find out about it and do an in class demo encouraging students to try it. There is usually no warning. Cathay had this experience and used the opportunity to ask to chat with the teacher about the kit and setting up a contact with the local liaison.

We discussed the idea of doing something similar when we encounter class bombs. We'd like to at least identify the teacher/class/school. This is a process and we are just feeling around for providing the best possible service during one of these occasions.

Cathay provided a half-sheet for liaisons and providers to have speaking points about the class-visit kit.

Social Media

A larger committee that has been having a hard time meeting

They've developed a little test of how our media works now and what would happen if we separated out and posted things differently. If we post certain types of questions on the Facebook page then we get interesting results and "activity". That  is, if we ask a question, we get more interaction than if we just post an answer to an interesting question. Erika brought up the idea of connecting somehow to instagram (or pinterest), and Julie mentioned that we are currently using Delicious with "stacks" for the visual interest. Julie doesnt understand why libraries are jumping on the pinterest bandwagon. Liz suggested that we consider buying a Zinga ad. Julie recently saw a big boost in usage when she used a $50 small-business gift certificate she got for Facebook ads.

Refresher Training Team

1. rethink AUN Help & Support page, Needs to be re-created to make a “one stop shopping” assistance page

2. Create Sample Training Scripts for practicing scenarios. These would be like a play script, with lines for the “librarian” and the “customer”. Scripts would focus on a subject area and incorporate certain technical and behavioral actions to give practice in all three areas; for example, script could be on science (subject training), with impatient customer (behavior) and using policy pages (technical aspect) incorporated into the session. Librarian requesting training would ask a colleague to partner up with him/her and play the part of the customer. Librarian would choose which script to use, colleague would have script and ask questions as a customer. Librarian would need to respond appropriately. Transcript could be used for CEU credits.

3. How To Videos. Self-paced asynchronous videos, no longer than 5 minutes or so each. Walk viewer through certain actions – technical aspects, using policy pages, transferring a session, or subject aspects, showing how to use certain information resources (example, a Sailor database to which everyone has access).

Julie made a plea for input about subject training resources already available- please email her if you know of any orgs doing subject specific trainings online that we can send people to / link to an archive / coop.

Targeted Marketing Team

Also having a hard time meeting. But they have a mid-January goal of coming up with a plan. Primary focus will be schools and then everyone else.

Org Update

  • October 12 stats have been fixed.
  • We now have a budget. Yeah! Julie and Cathay still have jobs and there is a budget for marketing. So highlighters have been ordered (suggestion to get more colors). Other ideas included pencils (light and useful, can we get "mood" pencils, stickers for SRC, oval car magnets?(nope), post-it note pads, flash drives?(for teachers and media specialists? Preloaded with the toolkit!!) Erika suggested, for special occasion and/or providers only, one of those reusable lidded mug.

10th Anniversary Party

To be held sometime around the March 17 date. If Julie had her druthers, it would be a big evening shindig with present and past providers (spouses, kids), bigwigs, and customers, a band, drinks, etc.. However, as it stands, it will be a 2-3hour thing with cake, hopefully in the evening after hours at EPFL so we can use the Central Hall. Maybe Sunday evening (the actual date)? Face painters? balloon art? Music/disco? Raffle? Authors? Tours of building?

Security issue

We had a scenario where the provider accidentally sent the customer the URL of the chat monitor page and suddenly the customer had access to the provider side of the service. Julie was on at the time and was alerted to it and could call QP to help fix it. The issue has been fixed. Notes: as librarians - when copy and pasting URLs to customers, make sure the chat monitor URL isn't one of them.


Thanks to Debbie and Erika for taking the notes!

September 2012 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
10:30am - 3pm

Due to an overwhelming number of virtual participants for this meeting, we have moved from Google Hangout to Blackboard. Click to connect.

Abingdon Branch, Harford County Public Library
2510 Tollgate Road
Abingdon, MD 21009


there's plenty!


There is plenty within a short drive. You may also bring in.


  • Welcome & Introductions
  • Announcements
  • FY2012 debrief
  • FY2013 planning
  • Project team updates and planning
  • Round the table

September 2012 Liaison Meeting Notes

In attendance

in person

Julie Strange
Cathay Crosby
Kendra Frost - Harford County PL
Erika Harris - CCBC
Susan Pluhar- Pratt/SLRC
Debbie Barlow - Howard County Public
Jess Ambrose- Howard Community College
Suzy Bell - Cecil County Public
Chris McGee - Alleghany County
Betty Morganstern - Anne Arundel County Pubic Library
Sue Tinanoff - Baltimore County Public Library


Amanda Courie - Caroline County PL
Amy Ford - St. Mary's
Catherine McGuire - Maryland State Law Library
Christy McKinney - Carroll County
Elizabeth Hulett - Washington County
Jan Thomas - NOAA
Jocelyn Langholt - UMCP
Liz Beere - Carroll Community College
Liz Bowen - Frederick County
Mandy Hackley - Salisbury University
Mou Chakraborty - Salisbury University
Margie Rhoden - Calvert County
Mimi Bolotin - Montgomery County
Terry Darr - Loyola Blakefield

Notified Absence

John Krivak - PGCMLS
Karen Neville - Worcester County
Suzanne Kuch - Charles County


Betty is retiring!

In October, Betty Morganstern, AACPL Liaison since the beginning, will be retiring. Announcement of Betty's retirement and presentation of a lovely plant "Happy Retirement Betty." Julie showed the group a photo of Betty w/2 others from the AUN's first launch 10 years ago. Betty will email Julie and Cathay a name for admin things in the interim. A replacement liaison from AAPL is still being determined. People online were congratulating Betty and giving her many good wishes. Many liaisons have worked with Betty since the AUN inception. Betty thanked everyone and shared a few brief memories from the days when AUN began.

QuestionPoint's Rude Customer Policy

QP recently revised their policy on handling rude customers. Nothing new is needing to be done on our side since the changes align QP and the Cooperative more closely with what Maryland was already doing.

The cooperative policy was tweaked due to Julie's work with AskOntario's coordinator, Jan Dawson on dealing with rude customers. Additional tweaking will happen at the Maryland AUN level esp. with language on older scripts.

New Staff Training

The Baltimore County PL. training session on Sept 26th is full. Julie says that there is a new staff training for AUN at College Park on this coming Friday. There is another tentatively scheduled in Charles County for later in October. The process of getting people trained seems to be working. Liaisons should continue to notify Julie or Cathay when staff need training.

Online question: Is there specific training for people going from non-global to global coverage?
No. Our standard new staff training prepares you for whatever queues you monitor. There are certain things to remind yourself of when on global, however, and we have a guide for that thanks to Kate N at Pratt.

Rockstar Awards

Transcript review is done by a committee. The committee is run primarily by Anne Arundel and Harford County librarians who are looking to transition off. The committee needs new volunteers to review transcripts and run the team. Its only a quarterly commitment. Volunteers are needed from any available liaisons or providers.

Kendra: Commented that liaisons needed to nominate people more for Rockstar Awards because in one of the quarters only 2 transcripts were nominated. Kendra reminded the group that this is wonderful promotion for the Md. AUN service as well as individual staff members to the rest of our organizations.

There was discussion about how to recognize everyone nominated and not just the winner.

Julie reminded people of the two ways to nominate transcripts (the form and by using descriptive codes).

Shift substitution calendar

Julie reminded folks how to add an event to the Shift Substituion Calendar due to previous confusion and the addition of events to the wrong calendar. Liaisons are asked to make sure they are adding things to the ORANGE Substitution calendar. The Inner Harbor notes will be revised to make sure that people are avoiding the incorrect placement of the Google calendar entries.

FY2012 Debrief

Usage Trends show our numbers going down. Two reasons: lack of serious marketing funds (bad) & increased self service on local library websites (good).

Self service web info on library websites has influenced the quantity and types of questions that AUN is getting online. We need to look at other value/usage and success factors for service beyond just the usage data.

Discussion: Can session legnth be used? (yes, Julie is working with QP to tease out our customer's data. She expects a small, but apparent difference).  What do our descriptive codes show us? (nothing yet since we just started using them in February. We may have useful stats to show after a year of using them).

Projects Update

Sustainable School Partnership Team

The team created a toolkit to help in talking to schools and inviting them to use our service (and deal with "class bombs"). The toolkit can be found on the customer portal under the schools tab. Everyone is welcome to share it and use it to fit their needs when talking to schools and school groups.

The guide was created to get the message out about how to schedule and coordinate the visits online. The toolkit includes talking points, contact worksheets, and 5 sample transcripts (just general realistics, not stellars, manage expectations a little)

Another push in January will be done after the holiday season and people return to school again. A press release was sent to the MLA Crab newsletter.

Kendra: Harford Community College and Public Libraries and Public Schools are getting together about information literacy. She thinks that she will use the toolkit in that meeting

Betty: Shared the toolkit with Homework reps at Anne Arundel PL. Her rep already had a plan to visti the high schools who was going talk with cirriculum planners about the toolkit.

Social Media Team

Cathay: The Social media team is currently tweaking their action plan for "timely themes" and tesitng the theme of voting. We are going to post things in Twitter and Facebook feeds related to voting. Do a piece at a time, then evaluate, then report findings.

FY13 Planning

Future of AskUsNow! meeting update

The meeting originally scheduled for July was postponed to September in order for DLDS to find a facilitator for the brainstorming they hoped to do in the meeting. The meeting has been postponed indefinitely due to the fact that it's very hard to find someone willing to facilitate a meeting(s) for free.

Our budget

Two budgets were submitted, one flat, one with an increase in a few lines including marketing. Our increased budget was preliminarily verbally approved. We are waiting for the budget paperwork. This may be the last year that AUN looks the way it looks as an organization. One of the questions we have to figure out this year is how do we fund beyond the federal start-up money that has helped us run AUN for the last decade?

Kendra; Is there a comittment to continue? (at the Md. state level) Julie/Cathay: Confirmed yes. There is a lot of support. We have been doing the same thing for the same way for the past 10 years and it's just time to look at what we do and how we do it with an eye to better integration with the other things libraries are involved in across the state.

FY13's projects

Refresher Training will continue. (see below)

Social Media will continue.

Sustainable School Partnerships (the tookit group) will look at next steps.

The Internship and Volunteer projects will continue. We will announce internships this week for this semester. We currently have 3 volunteers and a policy that is a year or so old and still effective.

Targeted marketing has been readjusted and will pick up more speed in '13 and focus on schools and teachers. The audience may shift again in coming years. 

The Mobile interface team was dropped due to technical/software limitations. Mostly because the mobile interface is not 24/7. Only Md librarians can see mobile patrons at this time and until that changes or we change our tech, we're stuck.

Refresher Training

We have surveys and lists of things for the refresher training but what are some additional things we need to make sure to address? Sue suggests that Transferring & IMing are things that need refreshing. Susan: It is important for the people that are not new to go back and look

Julie/Cathay: We are happy that almost every provider watched the video on descriptive codes. Because of that, we know self-paced online videos are a good, viable model for our refresher trainings.

Erika suggests calling it Continuous Knowledge team. or Julie says: AskUsNow University.

Debbie: Emphasized that it really needs to link to CEUs because CEUs are so important to professionals.

Julie: She will be contacting everyone on the teams before she leaves so work can potentially be done while she's gone. Providers can take part if they are avaialbel. The teams dont have to be just liaisons.

Catherine suggested the name MAUNALOA, Maryland AskUsNOw! Additional Learning Opportunities for all.

Next meeting in December: need specific timelines for the teams to report. WHat do the liaisons and providers need from AUN? Is there low hanging fruit that we can resolve quickly? Issues, goals that are going to be addressed locally?

AskUsNow!'s 10 year anniversary

AskUsNow! turns 10 on March 17th 2013. We need a planning team. We will also have an anniversary recognition at the MLA in Ocean City. Timeline is short.

Erika suggests kicking up the party idea to QP to get a sponsorship for a nice celebration party. Mo would like to help remotely. Sending out email, invitations, helping to get a speaker whatever can be done remotely. Susan offered to see about using Pratt Central Hall as the site for the party.

Julie will ask for a team to head up this celebration. Need to have plans in place by the end of the year so that we have three months to promote it.

What are your goals for this year that we might be able to help with?

Mo: Is there a standardization blurb that we can use from AUN! that we can also use for marketing purposes? Yes. Ask Julie if you can't find what you need on the IH or customer portal sites.

Kendra: Has set a goal to give everyone a provider summary for their performance review. How many questions done. Praise for good work. This will prompt more review of transcripts than what she has done before.

LizBowen: Pranksters  (dealing with them better)

Mandy: Bummed by disconnectors who don't prompt before dropping or signing out of the session. (Julie: mentioned Jan/Ontario has implemented a venting space. She's considering revamping the IH space oroginally indended for this to allow folks to actually do it.)

Mandy: Worries that she is too slow bc. people are want info so fast.

Catherine McGuire: Concerned about her usage too small. Need to find ways to bump up service.

Betty Morganstern: Is looking for examples of good placement of AUN buttons on websites. maybe look at better and multiple places that can be used for creative promotions of the AUN on the web. Julie: anecdotal evidence to show correlations between placement of links and widgets and the types of questions asked. Julie did a review of this two years ago; needs updating. This is a good project for an intern.


Thank you to Erika Harris (CCBC) for taking the notes!

June 2012 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
10:30am - 3pm

** If you are participating virtually, we will be using Google+ Hangouts instead of Wimba - please email Julie your gmail name so she can invite you to the hangout!**

Miller Branch, Howard County
9421 Frederick Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21042

View Larger Map


there's plenty!


there are fast food places and a nice Italian place within walking distance. There is also a kitchenette for those staying in!


  • Round the Table
  • Hello and Goodbye to new and old liaisons
  • intern update
  • project teams update
  • global hours
  • brainstorming debrief
  • meebo & wimba changes
  • webinar with rude customers / potential changes to AUN procedure

March 2012 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
10:30am - 3pm

Orleans Street Branch, Pratt
1303 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

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There is FREE onsite parking in that library's parking lot behind the branch.


Orleans is  three blocks from Lombard Street i.e. Corn Beef Row (see below for list of Deli's), there's a Burger King across the Street and a Popeyes three blocks from the library (corner Broadway and Orleans). You may also choose to bring your food.

Attman's Authentic NY Deli
1019 E. Lombard St

Lenny's Deli of Lombard St.
1150 e. Lombard St


  • Descriptive Codes: How's it going?/Update
  • Updates on 2012 Projects
  • Report: AACPL's Nook Promotion
  • Discussion: repeat customers and duplicated effort (as per Debbie's email)

lunch (12ish)

  • Update on the "future of AUN" meeting & brainstorming discussion
  • Round the table


March 2012 Liaison Meeting Notes

Attendance in Person

Jess Ambrose
Suzy Bell
John Krivak
Amy Swackhamer
Sue Tinanoff
Sue Bonsteel
Erika Harris
Amy Ford
Kendra Frost
Julie Strange
Cathay Crosby
Susan Pluhar

Virtual Attendance

Liz Beere
Mimi Bolotin
Jan Thomas
Laura Rice
Betty Morganstern
Theresa Mastrodonato
Chris McGee

Notified Absence

Beverly Lehrer
Elizabeth Hulett (PLA)
Margie Rhoden
Suzie Kuch
Debbie Barlow
Karen Neville
Bob Baldwin
Mimi Bolotin

1. A brief update was given on the status of our project teams.

2. An announcement was made about the "future of AskUsNow!" meeting scheduled in July that will be discussing the next ten years for AUN.

3. Julie thanked everyone for viewing the Descriptive Code tutorial and for using them in sessions now. Keep up the good work!

4. Betty gave a report on AACPL's Nook Promotion.

5. We went around the room and each spoke about what's happening in our libraries.

6. We spent the second half of the meeting brainstorming about the future of AskUsNow!. We used post-it notes to brainstorm individually and then in the group. Read the summary of what we came up with.

Here's a wordle made of all the responses from the summary that shows what came up the most. ("AskUsNow!" and "AUN" were removed)


December 2011 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
10:30am - 3pm

Crofton Branch, AACPL
1681 Riedel Road, Crofton, MD 21114

View Larger Map


there is ample parking.


You may bring you own or enjoy the local restaurants. You'll have no more than an hour for lunch.

Village At Waugh Chapel Shopping Center– Crain Hwy (MD RT 3) South and Waugh Chapel Rd., Gambrills:

Applebees, Arby’s, Atlanta Bread Company, Bob Evans, Burger King, Chick Fil A, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Damons, 4 Seasons Grill, Fuji Japanese Steakhouse, Grand Fortune,  Italian Market & Restaurant

To get to Village at Waugh Chapel Shopping Center:  Make a right from the library’s entrance/exit onto Riedel Road. Go to the 4th traffic light and make a right on Route 3 North. Immediately make a U-turn at the very next light and head south on Route 3. The Waugh Chapel Shopping Center will be on the right at the next 2 lights. Most of the regular restaurants will be at the southern end of the shopping center.

McDonalds, Popeyes, Roy Rogers, Taco Bell, Wendys, Boston Market

go left out of library parking lot. Then next right at light onto 424. Go straight till you see signs for Rt 3. Make right onto Rt 3  North. Fast food is in center median between RT 3 North and RT 3 South – north of Davidsonville Road (RT 424) and south of the Village at Waugh Chapel Shopping Center:



December 2011 Liaison Meeting Notes

In Attendance

Deborah Barlow- Howard County
Betty Morganstern- AACPL
Catherine McGuire- Maryland State Law Library
Mimi Bolotin- Montgomery County PL
Suzanne Kuch- Charles County
John Krivak- PGCMLS
Kendra Frost- Harford County
Jan Thomas- NOAA
Janice Lathrop- AACC
Susan Pluhar- Pratt/SLRC
Margie Rhoden- Calvert County
Jeri Cain- Caroline County
Jessice Nhem- Caroline County
Erika Hodge Harris- CCBC (note taker)
Julie Strange - AUN
Cathay Crosby- AUN

Virtual Attendance

Elizabeth Beere - Carroll Community College
Jess Ambrose- Harford Community College
Chris McGee- Allegany County
Amy Swackhammer- Frederick County
Suzie Bell - Cecil County
Laura Rice - Carroll County
Sue Tinanoff - Baltimore County

Notified Absence

Bob Baldwin - Allegany College
Sue Bonsteel - Stevenson University
Elizabeth Hulett - Washington County
Amy Ford - St. Mary's County
Karen Neville - Worcester County
Terry Darr - Loyola Blakefield

1. Welcome and Introductions

2. New happenings and announcements

Jeri Cain introduced Jessica Nehm and announced that Jessica will be taking over the AUN! liaison role at Caroline County Public Library. Jeri also shared with the group that one of Jessica’s recent projects was using Drupal to enhance the webpage at Caroline County Public Library.

Julie Strange remarked that the focus of this meeting would be a discussion about the list of AUN! projects for 2012 and also discussing the progress of  the descriptive codes project (as outlined in the Dec 13 meeting agenda). Liaisons are asked to join one or more of the upcoming project teams.  Julie also encouraged each liaison to canvass for additional commitments to AUN! projects from other providers at their libraries.   

Betty Morganstern mentioned that a new AUN! promotional campaign will begin soon at Anne Arundel Public Library where customers and librarians can be entered to win a NOOK.

Julie also stated that this meeting agenda includes a discussion on the future of AUN! Julie would like to capture ideas and thoughts from the AUN! liaison group discussion to share at a major stakeholders meeting. The meeting of the decision-makers who affect the statewide capacity of the AUN! service will happen in early 2012.

Jan Thomas, a new liaison and new partner library, talked about the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration libraries and their functions. There are 2 in NOAA centers in Maryland and Jan is the librarian at the World Weather library in Camp Springs (there is another NOAA center in Silver Spring). Since there were significant questions and interest around the liaison table about NOAA libraries’ specialized functions, Jan provided further explanations and answers to the group about the NOAA libraries’ role. Some of the roles and functions that were talked about were:  

  • The primary patron group served by the NOAA libraries is the NOAA scientists. The NOAA libraries joined AUN! to exchange information among their library centers across the country. Weather data questions would be most related to the NOAA products.
  • Jan offered to be a direct contact to other Maryland AUN! liaisons for weather-related reference questions in his area of expertise.  Out of scope questions can be referred to other library and researchers in the NOAA network.  
  • NOAA librarians have their own queue. They don’t see  general public and academic customers and the AUN! public and academic librarians don’t see the NOAA chats. However,  NOAA can be used in AUN! as a referal partner. This also prompted Catherine M. to question how specialized questions get automatically rolled-up if their was no question pick-up from NOAA  (or other specialized providers in AUN!) Julie explained that the NOAA qwidget is set up for non-rollups and that libraries can have the qwidgets set up to reach specific answer groups even without the qwidget.  Betty M asked about the policy pages indicating how their questions can be addressed.  Jan responded that questions can be parsed by first-responding NOAA info providers. Librarians who seek weather data information for the purpose of authentication for courts and special legal services can also contact NOAA.
  • Jan is a solo librarian for specialized scientific content but he explained that anyone from the general public can come in and be granted permission to use the physical library which is housed on secure premises.  Jan also stated  that researchers sometimes make appointments and other special arrangements to visit the library onsite.

3. Brainstorming the 2012 Projects

Project Discussion #1: Author Chats

Julie initiated this topic in talking about how special queues could be set up for a prominent author or a prominent public figure to have a real-time online chat with an audience (either with or without a technology facilitator). Julie wanted the liaisons group to think of the possibilities for implementing this service in the AUN! realm.  

Erika Harris thinks it would open up some great opportunities.  At her academic library, she could envision something like the President of the college, the VPs or deans chatting online with students.

Debbie Bartow suggested that the current AUN!/QuestionPoint technology may not be optimal for this purpose because there are other forms of technology that are better at handling online forums. Erika replied to Debbie’s thought to say that some libraries may not have the technology to host these types of online forums and that the AUN! interface might be a good way for those libraries to have a forum program. Julie added that if libraries have access to better forms of technology for prominent guest chats then they should not feel compelled to use AUN! for this.  Julie was not trying to discourage other technology as a platform for featured guest chat with an online audience. However, the AUN! program pays a lot of money to use QP as its preferred solution for online reference. As the Statewide Coordinator for AUN! Julie is looking for ways to show the statewide decision-makers and grantors that that the QuestionPoint software can be multi-faceted.

Betty Morganstern talked about an online youth reading project that she thought might be a good use of AUN! for a special chat forum. Although after further thought, Betty felt like the online reading club experience for youth was more Wimba-like (a group chat experience versus a 1-to-1 chat).

After listening to potential examples, Debby was still not convinced that AUN! technology offers any special advantage for providing a special guest chat for an online audience.

Catherine M. mentioned that if an AUN! chat with an author or guest could be structured like the Washington Post columnist chats then she could see an advantage to using AUN! in this manner. Erika and others agreed with Catherine that it would be good if the AUN! interface was flexible and capable enough to adapt (to a mode that is similar to the Washington Post columnist chats).

John Kirvak shared some thoughts: If the decision-makers of the Maryland AUN! have declared that AUN! services are more than what happens with QuestionPoint’s online reference, then he could see potential for better use of underutilized partners. For example, our autism partners in Maryland –are we using them to get the best information to the community of people seeking autism information? We should consider using QP technology to develop other types of community partnerships that have a wide reach.  Julie agreed with John’s thoughts and said that she would speak with Jo John (coordinator of the Enquire service in the UK) to get more information about how QuestionPoint tools can be utilized for engaging people beyond just online reference.

Debbie raised the issue of how would others know what has already been asked/answered using the current 1-to-1 interface of QuestionPoint chat.  Debbie restated her thoughts about other software being better for communicating in forums.  Julie responded by saying that we would have to set up specific goals for these featured guest/author chats. Although, Wimba and other technologies are available for forums, the main issue is finding optimal ways that we can put the AUN! name on more successful projects so that we can continue to build leverage for our services in the future.

Suzy Bell raised the possibility of having statewide special topics of interest with experts as guests and use the opportunity to have scheduled Q&A sessions surrounding the special topic.  Julie agreed that this would be a good use for potentially getting the AUN! service to broaden.

Margie Rhoden shared an idea of having statewide Medicare experts online for a chat with the public.

Someone else mentioned another idea: Public library customers could speak with librarians and ask eBook downloading questions on a strategically scheduled date. For example, the eBook Q&A can perhaps happen on Dec 27th, to coincide with all of the new holiday purchases of eBook readers. Perhaps with so many libraries offering downloadable books, the eBook questions could parse through a statewide queue.

Julie reminded the group that she needed people to commit themselves to working on the various project teams.  

Erika mentioned that some of us would like to take these ideas back to our group to canvass for commitments and also get a sense from our directors if we can get support for being on these various AUN! project teams.

Liaisons  interested in forming the Author Chat/Community Chat project team: Susan P., Suzy B, Mimi Bolotin, (Tentative: Erika Harris)

Project Discussion #2:  Targeted Promotions

Julie informed the liaisons that there is only $3500 for marketing this year. Julie is hoping that the targeted promotions campaign can be focused on seniors, parents and people effected by the digital divide. Julie gave an example to the group of meeting a person in the Deep Creek area who lives so remotely that he makes a 3-hour trip to visit his closest Wal-Mart. This meeting prompted her to consider more ways to use mobile phone technology to reach more potential users of AUN! services.

Debbie felt that we need to promote heavily to library directors across the state because unless there is leadership level buy-in to prioritize the benefits of AUN! then there won’t be a shared sense of promoting information services to various populations.  

Erika shared a few thoughts related to Julie’s example:  Targeted marketing is also a physical outreach effort with the added purpose of going to people and engaging their interest where they are. If targeted marketing strategies focus on technology as a way of reaching people who are already in a digitial divide then there is a risk of not overcoming the disconnect that we are trying to target.  Since every town has a church, a school maybe even a post office then Erika suggested that a ‘Rockstar Librarians tour bus’ might be a good way to reach rural and remote populations. Julie liked the idea of the librarian tour bus and Debbie compared it to the mammogram buses that perform healthcare outreach. 

Catherine added that many people still don’t know about AUN! and that librarians should reach out to PTA groups in the schools. 

Julie agreed with Catherine’s suggestion of PTA marketing and also stated that AUN! librarians need to take ownership of targeted marketingat a local level. The AUN! program coordinators can develop marketing toolkits, guidance and support but local librarians will initiate and implement the groundwork to make the various outreach efforts happen.

Betty stated that marketing to schools is a challenge and that it will always be a perennial problem to get a message to every school. Much of it depends on how receptive some schools are or aren’t and also if principals are receptive to the ideas of marketing within a local school.

Mimi Bolotin commented that people don’t recognize that any information need is potentially a reference question. People are sometimes amazed at the types of questions that librarians can/will answer.

Liaisons interested in forming the Targeted Marketing project team:  Chris McGee, Sue T., and Jeri Cain

Project Discussion #3: Sustainable School Partnerships

Someone mentioned that homeschooled students should also be considered in the process of marketing and/or developing partnerships for AUN!

Erika mentioned that her campus library at the Community College of Baltimore County has a partnership with one local high school’s AP History program.  The school media specialist of the high school and history teachers collaborate with college librarians to give lessons to students on how to do academic research. Erika says that the college librarians promote AUN! usage in every session that is taught to the high school students. 

Cathay talked about the partnership developed with afterschool programs in Cecil County where she was formerly employed.  Librarians would bring in books, materials and activities for the afterschool kids that would prompt general reading interests or would help kids find information for completing homework. Many liaisons agreed Cathay’s example could also be a good  targeted marketing initiative.

John mentioned that a good way to develop sustainable school partnerships would be for school media librarians to serve as AUN! providers at least one hour per day.

Cathay also described another Cecil County library program called Target 6 for sixth graders.  The students were required to get permission for a bus field trip to the public library. When the kids arrived at the library, they were already given an assignment and they engaged in a ‘par course’ experience of learning how to use the library to gather information and to interface with librarians and various resources.

Catherine commented that AUN! librarians should look into other private and independent schools for partnerships also—consider partnerships beyond just the public schools.

Debbie mentioned that school liaison librarians are one of the ways that Howard County Public Library creates links with schools. Debbie also talked about an event called the National History Day Project which involves librarians representing various institutions across the state. This event could be considered in terms of partnership-building potential.

Kendra Frost remarked that school librarians need familiarity with AUN! even from the standpoint of knowing how to ask a question.

John commented that exploring the possibility of school librarians as providers is important because knowing how the service is provided will move AUN! toward being more fully adopted by schools.  

Debbie added more thoughts about how many parents and students don’t really understand the uses and functions of library databases so AUN! would represent a whole new level of knowing about how to interact with providers to obtain information.

A follow-on discussion emerged in the group about general comfort levels with database interfaces vs. Google, Geolocate etc.

For now, only one liaison is interested in forming the Sustainable School Partnerships project team: Betty Morganstern

Project Discussion #4:  Social Media Marketing

Julie said that AUN! marketing via social media will goes hand- in-hand with targeted marketing initiatives—much  in the same way that there is marketing overlap with the other project initiatives.

Jeri brought up the AUN! questions that come up on Facebook- are there a lot? Not yet.

John suggested we should ‘target’ the social media marketing as well. Use the social media presence of other targeted groups (used an ex: independent schools) John also expressed concern that the deluge of marketing on social media to individuals may cause AUN! marketing to end up in junk filters.

Cathay remarked that people often get ‘viral’ about social media chat opportunities by mentioning examples like with columnists or public figures on their own official Twitter or Facebook pages etc.

Julie stated that she and Cathay do the social marketing for AUN!  The social media marketing work has begun already through intern help. The group that works with the social marketing team will be building on this groundwork.  

Jeri mentioned her excitement about ways that she can fuse AUN! project initiatives into strategic planning that is happening at Caroline County Library.

Liaisons interested in forming the social media project team: Amy Swackhamer, Kendra Frost (tentative)

Project Discussion #5:  Refresher Training 

Julie stated that the refresher training project group will be responsible for all of the continuing education related content for the providers and that Drupal can be used to enhance retraining efforts.

Debbie suggested that school media librarians can be used to test and on-board the training modules even as new providers.  The refresher training team also should look into ways to provide CEUs or other ways that providers can be acknowledged for their training.

Betty described how new AAPL library staff are introduced AUN!  in their new hire training. The new library staff pose questions in chat as a new user. New staff are also shown online transcripts from the provider/liaison perspective. Betty also thinks that we should look at the training in terms of 1-hour increments in a series.

Julie agreed that tutorials for new staff training should be trackable and should meet the criteria for staff/professional development in order to count toward CEUs.

Catherine suggested that mandatory quizzes should be a part of the training modules.

Liaisons who are interested in forming the refresher training project team: Debbie Barlow, Catharine M, Susan and Erika.

Project discussion #6:  Mobile interface

Julie stated that at this time she was not sure what the team for AUN! mobile apps/interface will eventually shape up to be.

Erika asked: Are we attempting to develop the apps at the provider level? Or will a team of mobile apps project liaisons just provide testing and tweaking? Julie responded that the group will decide what the goals are.

Debbie raised questions about whether mobile apps are more connected to the future of AUN! Julie responded that a mobile interface  is something that we plan to explore sooner rather than later.

Other thoughts were raised about whether or not we would remain with QuestionPoint as our solution provider or should we consider other technology solutions.  

Cathay stated that mobile applications are in use at the Virtual Reference Coordinator meetings and that  more information can be gotten from others who are using them.

Liaisons interested in forming the project team for mobile applications interfacing: Amy Swackhamer and Kendra Frost

Project Discussion #7: AskUsNow! Sustainability Plan

Julie states that we need to consider a contingency plan for ‘What if?” –meaning how can we keep the AUN! service going if the grant money is no longer appropriated.  

Erika’s suggests that we may need to start charging ourselves consortium fees in order to maintain. Maryland libraries already contribute funding to consortiums to lower their costs for providing selects database so AUN! could follow a similar model. Julie mentioned it would be hard to ask people to suddenly start paying for something that has been "free" for almost a decade; the service might lose partners or end up looking different (not necessarily a bad thing).

John mentioned a concept that is afloat about Sailor taking over AUN! but he suggested that perhaps AUN! should take over Sailor instead (as a way of sustaining ) and many other liaisons in the group agreed with John’s statement.

For now, only one liaison is interested in forming the project team for AUN! sustainability planning: John Krivak


4. Progress and Updates on Descriptive Codes

Julie reminded the group that we are going to use descriptive codes at a statewide level and that  provider institutions have the option to use local institution codes and customize them accordingly.  A tutorial will go out. It will be 3mins long for everyone to use in the state. There are will be a quiz at the end that will be used to track which liaisons have looked at it. The goal is to  implement the  use of statewide codes by February. There is a timeline available on the Inner Harbor page on descriptive codes. The tutorial that is already developed it. It has closed captioning. Tutorials are also being created and updated using the Adobe Captivate software. Julie thanked John, Debbie and Jess Ambrose for doing the legwork on descriptive codes.

Liz B. asked several questions: Will the deadline to implement the descriptive codes be at the beginning or the end of the month.  How did we end up with 12 codes? Liz remembered that we were aiming for a lot less. Julie explained that we needed to have some type of correspondence between local codes plus Julie felt we needed at least one for nomination in the ‘Rockstar’ category –this is why we ended up with more than originally planned. If local institutions want to add additional codes then the tutorial will teach librarians to do this.

Liz B. asked if the codes need to be ranked and is there a way to change codes before we ‘add or save’? Julie explained that we can use up to any four in any order and that more information is forthcoming.

Erika suggested that we should expand the definition on codes because there are some areas that may be subject to interpretation.  For example: How do you code a question that is being asked for professional purposes? Do you select the Workforce code or the Business Community/Market Research code?

Sue Tinanoff  suggested putting the codes into the content area. Since there are two different types of codes maybe we have content related code and one type-code. Julie responded by stating that QuestionPoint will not allow easy splitting in such a way as Sue suggests but there will be plenty of opportunities to revisit these issues again starting in March.

Sue also suggested that other providers should read the same documents on descriptive codes that Julie will send to the liaisons. All providers need to be aware of how the codes can be used to generate custom reports for institutions.


5. Roundtable sharing (including the discussion on AUN! in the future)  

Betty described the Nook giveaway/AUN! promotion that will happen at AAPL for two weeks in early 2012. Library staff (reference librarians and circulation assistants) will proactively promote AUN! by wearing a badge that recommends AUN! and they will conversate with t library customers about AUN! and the Nook giveaway.

  • The customer is informed about possibly winning one Nook for the library staff and one Nook for him/herself simply for trying out the AUN! service and mentioning the library staffer who told them about the promotion.
  • The customer will be encouraged through a written instruction sheet on how to best engage the AUN! service for consideration in the giveaway.
  • Instructions will remind customer to choose the AUN! link from the AAPL website and also to include their email address and mention the staff member. There will also be posters hung in the libraries to promote the giveaway. 

Betty asked the liaisons to alert their local AUN! providers that AAPL is having this promotion from Jan 23-Feb 06.

Suzie asked if we should place the AAPL customers who are trying AUN! for the promotion in the ‘follow-up by patron’s library’ status. Many liaisons agreed that this would be a good idea so that AAPL could monitor the customers more closely during the promotion period.

  • Free form discussion ensued about how the winning patron will be selected.
  • Julie stated that there could be a pick based on the quality of the transcripts.

Julie shared another idea of kids using AUN! to chat with Santa (this is an idea that can be explored by the author-community chat project team).

Catherine asked the liaisons to remind local provider librarians to refer law questions when the State law librarians are available on AUN! - Tue 9-11, Thu 9-4.  

Erika asked the librarians to share ideas with her about small ways to do refresher training for local providers in between the times that AUN! is offering consortium-wide refresher training opportunities to provides.  Jeri suggested that the Quality tip Tuesday log would be something to help the providers and  Julie encouraged the use of  the training modules/tutorials on Inner Harbor.


6. Discussing the Future of AskUsNow!

Catherine asked whether the group thought that  libraries will move forward with chat, IMing or text messaging.

Julie says that AUN! will always have to consider how to incorporate whatever the next thing is and determine whether newer technology and services will have a real possibility of shaping AUN! into something bigger than what it is now.

Margie suggested  that reference in AUN! could gravitate to more of a communal model with regard to giving a patron multiple answer perspectives to a question similar to multi-replies that people are used to seeing in Twitter or Facebook. Julie added that perhaps we could have multiple librarians offering steams of chat to AUN! customers rather than having only the 1-to-1 experience like we have now.  

  • Free form discussion takes place about 1st gen chat rooms, IMing, interactive software like the online tutoring products that are available.

Betty suggested that the future may involve questions being sent through mobile devices and librarians delivering answers through mobile. Dragonspeak was mentioned as one of the adaptive technology products that is used by some customers.  

John reflected on AUN’s! history and future at a macro-level: When AUN! started, the mission was to provide live reference services to Maryland. Nowadays, providers do things that are live and traditionally non-reference (like circulation and patron account help, etc.) and yet the reference mission of AUN! sometimes moves to the non-live mode due to follow-ups etc.  John thinks the demand for live is expanding and that the AUN!  may have to consider mission changes in the future.  

After others in the group briefly restated issues of patron account help being one of the more challenging aspects of providing AUN! service, Julie commented that her vision for making things more seamless with patron accounts is for Maryland to adopt a statewide library catalog.

Amy stated that she feels there is way less collaboration on technology among libraries with the exception of ebook purchasing.  Perhaps technology considerations can be a part of AUN’s! future initiatives. Cathay commented that Delaware has adopted a statewide library catalog but also acknowledged that adopting one in Maryland would present different complexities that were seemingly easier for Delaware to overcome being a smaller size state with fewer library systems.

Betty suggested that one of the future initiatives could be to open a chat window with a circulation provider to answer patron account and circulation related questions.  Betty also suggested that another future possibility in AUN! services can be Skype reference chat.

Janice Lathrop stated that the group also needs to brainstorm the opportunities that we can create for online reference if there was no AUN! in the future.  How would we fill the void? Thoughts and ideas were brainstormed in the group regarding how individual institutions would maintain online reference for their local communities:  free online chat products, paying for QuestionPoint as a subscribed service, foregoing the 24/7 model and providing online reference during scheduled hours.

Julie added that when she makes AUN! funding considerations, she has discovered that there would be no significant cost benefit for institutions to pay QuestionPoint directly as opposed to developing fee agreements for provider libraries in the consortium.  After considering rough price estimates for QuestionPoint services, the group could see that it was far more cost effective to continue the consortium while also protecting the investments made in knowledge, training, resources and standards that Maryland AskUsNow! has instituted over the past decade. 

More discussion thoughts and ideas regarding AUN’s! future endeavors:

  • Julie described how 2005 was a good year for AUN! because there was a larger budget for marketing . During that year, usage stats were high. Now stats are decreasing most likely due to lack of funding for marketing.  
  • In addition to the marketing issue, someone mentioned that we need to continually examine AUN’s! technology and service models.
  • Jeri  agreed with this and commented that we devolved from co-browsing which was something that used to work well in the AUN! interface.
  • Jess commented that most of our efforts should focus on patron marketing because when numbers are high then library directors will make AUN! a priority.  
  • Betty suggested that support for AUN! can be expanded when libraries are viewed as ‘transforming lives’ rather than just providing information (an adaptation of a Bill Gates quote that Betty read or heard)
  • John reflected further on the notion “education changes lives” and how libraries play a significant role in the educational process.
  • Julie wrapped discussion by stating that ‘transforming’  tie-ins make it easier to sell and market services of AUN!, libraries and librarians as professionals.          


Thank you, Erika, for taking such detailed notes!


Action Items / Items for consideration

[ ] step up efforts to keep on the tounges of the directors - they need to know about it, talk about it, value it, and incorporate it into their systems, services, and futures.

[ ] AskUsNow! partnerships with schools and school media specialists - make them partner libraries & have them help us help them

[ ] bring together all public library liaisons to local schools to demo AUN so they can talk it up on school visits

[ ] continue discussing the future of AskUsNow! (in the forums!- must be logged in to view)

September 2011 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
10:30am - 3pm

Baltimore County Public Library, Administrative Offices, Towson Meeting Room
320 York Road, Towson MD 21204

The Towson meeting room is on the ground level of the library building. The best way to get there, without winding through the building and up and down stairs is to park in the deck and take the elevator on the library side to LEVEL 2. Exit the elevators and make a LEFT. Make a LEFT to cross the driveway of the loading dock (don't cross over to the other side of Chesapeake Ave). Walk down the sidewalk until you see some stairs on the Left and enter the library through the automatic doors. The door to the meeting rooms will be on the right (with the rotunda stairs ahead on the left)- we'll have the door opened for you. Click here for an annotated satellite view (pdf).

View Larger Map


The Admin Offices/Towson branch has a parking deck ($) attached between the library side and the court building. We will see about the discounted library or volunteer rate.


  • FY2011 wrap up
  • AUN Volunteers - how's it going?
  • Descriptive Codes - discussion & setting a plan of action
  • Jo John (UK's Enquire service) & the "guest chat" idea
  • FY12 planning - what are you priorities? what do you want done? what do you want investigated?


You can plan to bring your lunch or eat out - there are tons of places within walking distance of the building. We'll have menus and directions at the meeting.

September 2011 Liaison Meeting Notes

Welcome and Introductions

Thank you to Baltimore County Public Library, Towson for hosting us, and to Sue Tinanoff for the goodies and refreshments - and beautiful weather just right for a picnic lunch!  A special thanks to Erika Hodge Harris for her note-taking/sharing on Wimba.

(Note:  Some technology issues caused initial problems with archiving and remote participating.)

We began with introductions and sharing what's new with each library:

  • UMCP recovered from earthquake on August 23, 2011; had shared McKeldin Library's Earthquake photos on Flickr
  • Maryland State Law Library is adding a 1/2 time staff position which will also provide help on AUN
  • BCPL began using LibAnswers
  • CCBC is using LibGuides for pathfinders, resource guides
  • Allegany County, FCPL, AACPL, Caroline Co. PL, and others are involved with lending eReaders, updating eBooks/eAudiobooks resources, training staff and offering online resources through their libraries' site
  • St. Mary's has a meeting room AV upgrade, and noticed a huge increase of library use around the hurricane (Hurricane Irene/end of August)
  • FCPL is looking at a mobile app
  • AACPL is looking at Enterprise, probably to upgrade their catalog to this early next year
  • Caroline PL also has a meeting room AV upgrade and getting ready for a catalog upgrade to Enterprise
  • Howard CPL is closing Miller Branch in late September for new building
  • St. Mary's is getting an AV system upgrade for video/audio conferencing
  • Amy Ford also mentioned that Overdrive has a WIN option and that Overdrive is working on a "renewal" process for items checked out.

Report on Volunteer Program

Our Maryland AskUsNow! Volunteer Program is underway.  We currently have 3 active volunteers and one in training.  The goal is to have 5, so we have an opening. Please ask interested parties to contact Cathay.

Debbie Barlow/Howard Co. PL asked if it was okay to have someone who is interested in providing service shadow someone.  Julie replied that this is fine to do.

Intern Program

Seven respondents to the fall intern openings included only one who met the UMD course requirements; he ended up becoming too busy.  There are no new interns for AUN for the fall semester. We will announce the internship opportunity again in December for the Spring 2012 semester. We may consider opening up the internship to students at other universities.

FY2011 Wrap Up

We have finished up our FY11 grant and have had our FY12 budget approved, including funds for marketing and new equipment. The final grant report is due at the end of September. Julie asked if the liaisons would be interested in a "year end report" based on the Final Grant report. The consensus is that providers would appreciate having it posted on the Inner Harbor. 

In prep for buying new marketing materials, and in an attempts to use up all we've got and spread the word, we had some of the last of our materials available to take. Anyone is welcomed to request marketing materials to be sent to their library.  A list of materials still available is available on the marketing page.

Descriptive Codes - Discussion and Setting a Plan of Action

We've discussed Descriptive Codes in previous meetings and are ready to set a plan of action.  The codes that are in QuestionPoint are those listed by QP and is a huge list.  What we'd like is to use these on a statewide level.  We'd like to standardize a small list of codes for all of AUN but each institution can create their own, too.  Up to four descriptive codes can be added to each session.

For the BME, Maryland AskUsNow! (to share statewide), we decided upon having five. During the March Liaison meeting, it was noted that "Erika Harris (CCBC) suggested that the subjects of most interest to the state may be things like "personal interest," "student assignment," "business research," and "legal questions" so that marketing can be pointed more towards usage." 

Each institution / institutional profile sees their own list.  If a customer comes from another BME/library than your own, the descriptive codes will be set by the customer's library (similar to how scripts and policy pages are linked).  Julie will clarify this.

John Krivak proposed that the plan of action, to include:

  1. Determine the final five codes
  2. Come up with additional codes for libraries.  Time frame:  9/19-10/17/11
  3. Team will review to eliminate overlapping codes and add definitions.  The Review Team members are:  John Krivak, Debbie Barlow, and Jessica Ambrose (Julie and Cathay).  Time frame:  9/19 - 10/17/11
  4. Final choices will be posted on the IH and in QP (profiles) by 10/31
  5. Training:  Cathay/Julie will create a viewlet with a quiz and a handout during November, to be ready by 11/30/11.  It was suggested that training include a refresher of Resolution Codes (or refer to it), have the definitions of the descriptive codes, and "how to use" these while chatting/working with customers.
  6. Official "start date" February 1, 2012
  7. Review will occur during June, 2012 Liaison Meeting

It was mentioned that we need to have a Refresher Training completed for online access.  This could be one module as part of that Refresher Training.

We broke for lunch between 12:40 and I:30

QuestionPoint's Policy Page Updates

Discussion:  New fields on Policy Pages

Policy Pages were revamped to include a field for eBook information. Policy pages can also now be linked to the World Cat Registry page for information like addresses, maps, and phone numbers. For more information, see the QuestionPoint wiki on Policy Pages. When you log in to edit your policy pages, you'll see the changes with highlighted fields.

Class/Teacher Resources on

Discussion:  How to promote AskUsNow! use in classes and help for teachers

Sue Tinanoff brought up the increase of class bombs and interest in having class information, including a handout and online information (and contact information) on  Many librarians go out during the school year to visit classes and having a handout is helpful.  Julie assured the group that the section is almost completed.

Jo John - UK's Enquire Service "Guest Chat" Idea

Recently QuestionPoint hosted a webinar about the UK's Enquire service. During this webinar, Coordinator Joanne John noted that they use QuestionPoint to host chats with individuals. Enquire has hosted author chats and chats with public officials where a seperate queue was set up specifically for this purpose as to not bog down the regular chat customers. Librarians have acted as triage folks to make sure no customer is waiting without being updated on the progress. The individual can chat or have someone chatting on behalf of them (in the room). Julie will get more details from Jo, but she would like to see this given a shot at some point this year; talk to Julie for details.

Suzy Bell mentioned that this could also be used as a new staff training idea, too, for every library's staff training whether staff is going to be a provider or not. Debbie mentioned this doesn't seem as productive as a communal chat - where people can see what people are asking and what's being said.

FY12 Planning

As part of a new LSTA application requirement, we have the opporunity to actually plan out how we'd like our FY 12 to look as far as plans, and accomplishments. Discussion: What are your priorities?  What do you want done?  What do you want investigated?

  • Amy Swackhamer:  Refresher Training
  • Descriptive Codes Project
  • Blended meeting tech (improvement)
  • Betty M.:  For librarians to explain AUN - targeting students/best practices (How to explain the difference between BrainFuse and AskUsNow!?”)
  • Revised bookmarks and handouts…?  Can Jeri C. and Debbie B. share their bookmark  and other designs for IH?
  • Promote  and handouts to schools  (like “R.E.S.P.E.C.T” handout,  chat etiquette but up to date)
  • Promote to Seniors/medical questions, health, senior centers
  • YouTube or some type of commercial
  • Feature our specialists – how AUN can provide help with a variety of topics
  • Have  faces/images and provider profiles on QP
  • Marketing – do we want to spend  $ on programs and/or materials (most seem to want highlighters; no more bookmarks!-J)
  • Invite media specialists to liaison meetings, or as providers
  • Outreach to schools; what are libraries doing to partner (Harford Co. , Baltimore Co., Chris M. has contact info for his county’s media specialists, History Day event late September early October – Debbie B. “back to school’ night with 27 schools at the Central Branch, work with Children’s and Teen Librarians to coordinate, Margie R. – their library  has a coordinator for working with schools, and Calvert does class visits 4, 6, 8 grades and History Fair in the beginning – in October and at the end – to have a live “AUN” chat at the History Fair event in October; Pratt has class visits to the library all year round; Cecil County teen librarians go to middle schools and have relationships with media specialists.
  • Is Postcard marketing worth it?   (Direct mailing)
  • Explore integration of chat reference with tutoriing – what is out there?  Is there anything available? Can also incorporate subject specialists – Julie will bring up to QP Advisory Board/List?
  • John K. – have QP create readily available free mobile apps for Smartphones (Qwidget functions this way, but is not 24/7)
  • Wondering about the customer’s true desire to chat…Jim DeArmey (Fire off a question and leave; just using it for convenience)For circulation/account questions

We ajourned the meeting at 3:15.

Notes submitted by Cathay Crosby

In Attendance @Towson

Katherine Baer, MDSLL
Margie Rhoden, Calvert
Judy Markowitz, UMCP
Jim Lynch, BCCC
Debbie Barlow, Howard
John Krivak, PGCMLS
Susan Pluhar, Pratt
Chris McGee, Allegany
Erika Hodge Harris, CCBC
Jess Ambrose, Harford CC
Kendra Frost, Harford
Sue Tinanoff, BCPL
Suzy Bell, Cecil
Jim DeArmey (final hour)
Cathay Crosby

Virtual Attendance

Betty Morganstern, AACPL
Amy Ford, St. Mary's
Amy Swackhamer, FCPL
Karen Neville, Worcester
Jeri Cain, Caroline
Abi Sogunro, Montgomery College
Liz Beere, Carroll CC
Janice Lathrop, AACC
Julie Strange

Notified Absence

Elizabeth Hulett, WashCo
Mimi Bolotin, MCPL
Laura Rice, Carroll
Sue Bonsteel, Stevenson
DNR (no liaison)

No Notification

Allegany College
Charles County
Loyola Blakefield


June 2011 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
10:30am - 3pm

Carroll Community College
1601 Washington Road, Westminster, MD  21157

We will be meeting in the instruction lab (L091) on the lower level of the library.  Come into the main entrance and walk down the left side of the great hall to a hallway about midway.  The library is at the end of that hallway and you walk into the first floor and then use the stairs to get to the lower level.  The room is to the left against the outside wall.

View Larger Map


There is a huge parking lot and people can park anywhere to enter through the main entrance.






Due to timing and location, please plan to eat lunch on campus. You may bring your own, or buy from the cafeteria. Check out their menu; weekly specials are linked at the top of the page.

June 2011 Liaison Meeting Notes

Welcome and Introductions

Thank you to Carroll Community College for hosting us this time. Thanks also to Wanda Meck, back-up liaison for CCC for making sure we were well fed and caffeinated.

This time instead of doing just intros, we also went around the room and shared what's new with our library:

  • Texting is getting rolling in AACPL.
  • MCPL is looking at options for the future of its centralized reference model
  • the new dean at UMES is examining social media and podcasts for the library
  • FCPL just opened up a new branch and they're figuring out the shifting staff
  • at Pratt, AUN is moving out of the central model and into the departments, soon to the branches
  • WashCo are currently operating out of a warehouse as they continue to rebuild their central location.
  • BCCC students answered a survey that they weren't too keen on contacting the library via text, but we're all about facebook.
  • St. Mary's is getting an AV system upgrade for video/audio conferencing
  • Calvert is circulating preloaded ebooks; they're looking foward to a new catalog interface
  • Charles County is opening a new branch in May 2012
  • PGCMLS is about to reveal a new strategic plan
  • AACC is also renovating and are moving to a temporary location (once it's built!)

Reports and Statistics

Discussion: what statistics are people reviewing? What statistics do people *wish* they had?

We discussed the difference between “statistics” and “counts of current data” and went over how to get the reports you need (decide what report you need and getting the basic data).

Julie walked through where to find reports as admins:  Go to Reports > Institution > Institution Reports >> select “monthly” in the ‘chat’ report. Look for “number of total chat sessions requested” – all sessions that came in through your library’s queue. In the ‘ask’ report – question that were referred (follow ups), either originated as an email, or a chat follow up. “Questions assigned to librarian” , “Questions claimed by librarian” “Email Partners”, etc are explained:

  • Answers sent – this is the number that shows how many answers were done by your library.
  • Direct entry=  “Add a question” feature
  • Patron form = email web form
  • Questions rejected and questions deleted are fields, too.
  • Number of patrons log on = QP automatically creates an account for each patron (Sue and Betty mentioned this)

Offline reports (Ask > Review Transcripts > Offline) were discussed. These reports give you STUFF, not numbers, and run overnight (you can get an email notification when it's available).

We broke for lunch between 11:10 and 12:50

policy pages

Discussion: how are policy pages kept up to date locally (tips and tricks)?

Ebooks were discussed as important enough to have their own heading in policy pages. Julie will let QP know. For now, they're under "Other Policies."

noted: people need to know how to do a reference interview on ebooks - what questions do you need to make sure to ask?

An observation was made that the UK's Enquire policy pages aren't as informative as they should be, sometimes links are bad, and that sometimes it still seems like UK librarians aren't picking up.

Policy pages are too hard to read through - a new interface woul dbe nice.

the follow-up process

Discussion: how do you determine what to do with a follow-up session? How do you decide to answer versus refer?

Most liaisons are doing this themselves or have a small team helping.

We discussed the three tiers of subject specialists we have access to to refer things. Next tuesday a Quality Tip will be posted (it's scheduled) addressing this.

Kendra would like more information in reports about questions "claimed," "assigned," and "referred to."

the review process

Discussion: how do you do transcript review?

Concensus was that a rubric for the review process would be helpful - a checklist liaisons can use when doing review.  Julie showed the Behaviors Packet used in training which includes: “Anatomy of a Chat Session and Best practices, including the six steps (with resolution codes explained),  Beyond Behaviors – Tips for Successful VR, and Recommendations for facilitating interpersonal communication in vr encounters

Mimi brought up the idea that there could be a form to fill out with the rubic, judging the transcript on that critera - the comments would go straight to the chatting librarian like surveys. They could also have a place, near when you're filling out a resolution code, that you could evaluate yourself on how you think you did during each shift or each question.

Quality Tip Tuesday was launched and scheduled in advance so we don't get behind ourselves again.

the survey: what questions should we ask?

Discussion: what should the survey ask today? (link to forums, must be logged in to view/add) We’ve been using the same survey since the beginning..  There is nothing on this regarding “social media”. QP allows for an outside survey (which would have to be hosted somewhere) but they don't link back to transcripts- which would interrupt the current review process.

full text transcript searching is now available!

descriptive codes: fixed and ready!

Contact Julie to add your own to use locally. We'll get to this process in the fall on the state level.

the volunteer policy

liaisons were asked to read the draft before the meeting. Everyone liked it with some changes:

  • add that volunteers must have "at least a year of experience within the last three years"
  • the two month probation time must be noted on the first half, not just the half for sponsoring libraries
  • an internal list would be created so that volunteers could get coverage from other volunteers - never asking the rest of the paid staff

People are worried that their institution would have to jump through hoops to have a volunteer. We set up the policy so that institutions wouldn't sponsor a volunteer unless they wanted to. Volunteers would be managed through AUN directly.

Notes submitted by Cathay Crosby


Wanda Meck (for Elizabeth Beere)
Catherine McGuire
Mimi Bolotin
Theresa Mastrodonato
Janice Lathrop
Laura Rice
Jessica Ambrose
Cindy Thornley
Karen Neville
Susan Pluhar
Kendra Frost
Suzy Bell
Cathay Crosby
Julie Strange
Sue Bonsteel
Jim Lynch
Amy Swackhamer
Sue Tinanoff
Debbie Barlow
John Krivak
Betty Morganstern

Notified Absence

Jeri Cain
Chris McGee
Catherine McGuire
Erika Harris
Elizabeth Beere


March 2011 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
10:30am - 3pm

Stevenson University
1525 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, MD 21153

The meeting will be held in the St. Paul Companies Pavilion on the Greenspring campus. After entering the campus make a right at the first stop sign. Follow the road to the back of campus where there is a large student lot. Spaces will be roped off at the front of the lot for those attending our meeting. Please print the parking permit linked below and leave it on your dashboard.

Directions to Campus

Campus Map, pdf (The St. Paul's Pavillion (#14 on map) is the square building with big windows at the edge of the lot.)


View Larger Map



please PRINT THIS PARKING PERMIT and place it on your dashboard when you arrive on campus.



10:30 - Welcome, Introductions and New Liaisons (15)

10:45 - brainstorming: Descriptive Codes (30)

11:15 - New Staff Training update (20)

11:35 - brainstorming: Mandatory Refresher Trainings (25)

12:00 - lunch

12:45 - How's it going? (15)

01:00 - the state of QP (15)

01:15 - Marketing (Lindsay) (30)

01:45 - Changes to customer portal ( (15)

02:00 - class visits (20)

02:20 - volunteers (20)

02:40 - the state of AskUsNow!

03:00 - planned meeting end



There is a sub shop on same floor as the meeting room and a café/grill one flight up. There are also several restaurants in the area -- we'll have printed directions to them at the meeting.

March 2011 Liaison Meeting Notes

Welcome, Introductions and New Liaisons

We have three new liaisons! Christopher McGee, new to AskUsNow! is at Allegany County will be taking over for Janice Beall. Cindy Thornly, also new to AUN is the new liaison for Charles County taking over for Alison Sherwell who was promoted to Branch manager at the Potomac Branch. Erika Harris, AUN provider for the last two years is joining us as liaison since Karen QW is the new Coordinator for Electronic Resources for all 3 CCBC campuses. Congratulations everyone and welcome aboard, new liaisons!

Update from the Department of Natural Resources library - Ann Wheeler will be on maternity leave in May (congrats, Ann!). The DNR library will remain a partner with us but since Ann is the only librarian/director and the replacement situation is unclear at this time, Julie will handle any business that comes in.

Joining us today is Joseph Eagan, Virtual Branch Coordinator at MCPL, filling in for Mimi.

Descriptive Codes

At the December meeting, since we didn't want to run late, liaisons were asked to submit their descriptive code feedback to the forums on the Inner Harbor. There wasn't a lot of activity there. Julie asked what was keeping people from participating. The consensus was that it's "another thing to check" and the "listserv works well enough" for discussion. Amy Swackhamer (FCPL) noted that the IH worked well for her with smaller group discussion (like for the UX group, etc). Julie wants to transition everything to one space - the Inner Harbor - for scheduling requests, discussion, etc - but will utilize the listserv more until the IH is better set up to handle everything all in one space.

Discussion was then held about the descriptive codes themselves. We had decided at the last meeting that a statewide list should be greated with indidivual institutions adding what they wish. Different codes were thrown around but the discussion settled on the fact that Julie and Cathay should pick the codes that will help them on a statewide level and the instiutions will pick the ones that will help them at their level.

Debbie Barlow (Howard) suggested that the liaisons might meet to come up with similar codes so that we can reduce duplication where we can.

Erika Harris (CCBC) suggested that the subjects of most interest to the state may be things like "personal interest," "student assignment," "business research," and "legal questions" so that marketing can be pointed more towards usage. Julie likes that idea and will work up the codes to serve the purpose of AskUsNow!.

Once codes have been set, tutorials and trainings will be available to help institutions add the codes to QuestionPoint. Using descriptive codes will cause a shift in policy and training since, to date, AskUsNow! providers have been instructed to "ignore descriptive codes unless otherwise specified by your liaison." We'll cross this hurdle when we get to it.

New Staff Training update

New Staff Training has been redesigned into a half day f2f class with self-paced pre-class assignments and tutorials and a post-training checklist. A huge thank you goes to Cathay who was paramount in the creation of these tutorials.

When asked which end of the day is better for getting staff out of the buildings for a traning, the group was 50/50 on am or pm. Julie will try to schedule both to see where the chips fall.

Julie asked who might be able to host a training at the end of this month  or in April? Susan volunteered Pratt, Betty will check the calendar, Harford PL could host down the road, Jeri offered Denton and CCBC has a lab of 15. Once J&C verify the completion timeline, J will schedule trainings with enough lead time for participants to complete the tutorials.

The Inner Harbor's training page will be getting an update to reflect all these fun changes.

Joseph (MCPL) noted that videos are helpful since it's hard to get people into a room together at the same time.

The training checklist was discussed - it will include on it all the tutorials and quizes that need to be completed, the 1/2 day training, as well as post-training activities. We discussed what people are doing for shadowing and practice questions and it seems that at least 2-3 practice sessions and similar shadowing / being shadowed seems like a good goal to shoot for.

In light of our new liaisons, and the fact that it's been two years since an official liaison training, John (PGCMLS) suggested we have another one. Julie will see about making half the June meeting a training and will solicit topics.

Mandatory Refresher Training

One of the things brought up through the Listening Tour last year was that at some locations, they have just enough time to do their AUN shift and then continue their physical desk shift or other work - there is no time to look at refresher materials or read the blog or do practice sessions. From this, the idea of a quartlerly refresher series came about. The idea is that for (at least) an hour a quarter (that's four hours a year), fresh material would be available on the Inner Harbor for people to pick and choose what they want to learn about. Quizes will be utilized for tracking so that we can use CEUs as an incentive.

This initative will have to be supported from the top down, once we've got our ducks in a row, otherwise it will never fly. These trainings will be kept simple, short, and pick and choose so that people are getting max benefit from them.

Janice (AACC) suggested that we might consider excempting people that provide service above a certain quality line and also that there needs to be demonstrated outcome for the time, not just for people to go over information on the site.

We discussed the possibilities of being able to remove people from service provision if they do not complete the mandatory training. That will have to be enforced at the local level.

we broke a few minutes before noon for lunch. meeting resumed at 12:45

How's it going?

To keep people from the after-lunch slump, we passed/tossed a ball around and shared what's new at our libraries.

  • MCPL lost 40% of their library staff in the last two years and are expecting an additional 15% budget reduction. Looking at new service models. Their customer base is highly educated and interested that there is no mobile app yet. ebooks are big.
  • Charles County is building a new branch.
  • Frederick County is gearing up for summer reading, which is always a big draw.
  • Harford County has a new director - Mary Hastler. Their dvd disk dispensers are reducing theft.
  • BCCC is looking at ebooks as a serious way to reach out to off-campus students.
  • Prince George's has a new website. It went live without the AUN logo, but it was back up within 24 hours.
  • CCBC is working on an assessment tool for information literacy, converting their audio/visual collection to streaming media.
  • BCPL now has mobile access to their catalog and they are trying to make improvements to their ebook support for customers.
  • Howard County Library is changing to "Howard County Library System" and they're working on a mobile app and are migrating their email into QuestionPoint.
  • Pratt is now covering AUN from all departments and looking to expand to branches. They've lost a lot of staff. Overdrive is causing problems, but training should relieve.
  • Cecil county is looking at a major rennovation for Elkton but they're in a hiring freeze. ILL is getting ready for a major shift.
  • Allegany county redid their website as well! The page listing search engines was removed because the library thought people didn't need it anymore but that was the single biggest complaint they recieved - that people didn't know how to get to the internet without that page. Focusing on patron training.
  • Stevenson's library is getting some upgrades over spring break - new tables, white boards, lights, etc. They're working on info lit as well.
  • Carroll CC has a production of RENT going on now and one of their librarians is in it!
  • Caroline County will be celebrating 50 years with events beginning in May. Debby Bennett is the new administrator. Budget seems steady.

The state of QP

Our QP contract is steady again for the third (second?) year but we need to increase our global hours. Julie is hoping to start a volunteer program that will monitor the service during the hours we need assistance and focus on doing global so that we don't have to put additional pressure on already stressed out AUN providers. We also continue to provide assistance and maintain consultative relationships with the 24/7 Reference Cooperative members and admin as well with QuestionPoint on software matters.

The install coming before ALA Annual will include full text searching. We won't know what is included in the install, or what it looks like until the release notes are sent (usually about a week before install). J or C will send when we have them.


From the pouring of applications from the internship opportunity, we have at least 10 people who are interested in volunteering for AskUsNow!. As stated before, these volunteers will monitor additional global hours during heavy times so that we can keep to our budget promises.

We've had very long discussions about volunteers in the past and we have a never-enacted volunteer policy/guidelines as put together by Debbie (Howard), Janice (AACC), Gregor (Carroll) and Joe back in 2008. With one major change, we will stick to the previous guidelines as much as possible, building on the work already done. That major change is that volunteers will be under the direction of the AUN admin (specifically the Operations Assistant). This will negate the need for volunteers to be associated directly with a partner institution and not put any additional burden on liaisons and local staff.

Once the idea is solidified, everyone will be able to weigh in on it. We have 10 people already interested and if we announce that we're accepting volunteers, i'm sure we'll get more. Summer is the timeframe goal for now.

There was a suggestion to see about offering LATI to folks or including AUN training/provision further in LATI training.

Marketing (Lindsay)

Lindsay reports that she is working on a zero-cost marketing plan for AUN. She wants to create a toolkit for use by local partners which will include customizable items, things taylored both to publics and academics. Lindsay asked the group what kinds of marketing things people are doing now that are really effective? She wants to include these in the plan / kit.

  • Debbie (Howard) wants to see something talking about the difference between AUN and Brainfuse/tutoring. We refer her to Jeri's (Caroline) bookmark as noted at the December meeting.
  • Suggestion: allowing people to link to AUN from their own FB pages or other sites. "Steal this code" kind of thing.
  • Cindy (Charles) talks about "insiders" and the people you interact with throughout your life that are easy targets for hearing about the things the lib provides.
  • Joseph (MCPL) - Advertising AUN with new lib card holders / book pickups, etc.
  • Erika (CCBC) - mentioning AUN on voicemails, hold music/messages and library closed messages
  • Sue  (Stevenson) - embedding AUN in google books along side of the "find in your library" option with Worldcat.
  • Is Aun linked in the "no results" area of your catalog?
  • Betty - AACPL's circ staff is trained in AUN, email reference and Brainfuse as resources to recco when patrons are checking out and they didn't get everything they needed

Lindsay will be asking for additional feedback via the listserv.

Changes to customer portal ( went through a change in February. thank you all for weighing in on the proposals before they went live. tabs have changed to more friendly language, social media links now in the footer of each page, and content has been streamlined.

upgrades to come: the viewport (the screen customers see when they enter into chat), the "join" page for new partners, and a tab/page for group/class visits

the viewport will be as simple as possible, modeling off of the viewport from AskUs24/7 in NY. Amy (FCPL) suggests linking to information as no one is going to read it anyway. (good point).

We discussed noting how long the wait might be - which would be an artibtrary number since we can't track it.

Class Visits

We'll be adding a note/page on the site about the need for scheduling class visits due to staffing models since we want to give everyone the most positive experience we can. We'll solicit the following information from groups/classes through a form:

  • teacher / group leader name and contact information
  • organization / school they're with
  • is there a specific assignment / topic?
  • any resources you'd like us to focus on?
  • what grade level / age group?
  • how many students?
  • what date / time? for how long?
  • do they have library cards? local library user?

Chris (Allegany) verified that a one week lead time is probably the most we can ask (his wife is a teacher).

Once the form is live, we'll send out materials for those visiting schools as well as sending things directly to them.

Amy (FCPL) suggested to include some "do's/don'ts" of how to use the service and agreed to draft a few up to start.

Discussion occurred around adding media specialists as partners - in such that we could track usage, give them their own URL and allow local follow-up. No chat provision would be required.


  • training the teachers on AUN (on how to use)
  • videos that could be sent to schools? youtube? morning announcements? "how do you use AUN?"

Julie asked about the relationships the libraries have with local schools. We'll need to leverage that.

the state of AskUsNow!

  • Funding stable through August 31, 2011. We're always thinking about sustainability and how to be funded off-grant. If anyone has any ideas, please share.
  • Stats are back up in February - 31% increase over January which was down from previous januarys. Monthly reports have additional information.
  • The Rockstar team is on hold for now but Julie would like to get the group up and running with something to show at MLA.
  • We're having a joint Maryland AskUsNow! / Delaware Ask A Librarian meetup at the bar on Wednesday night of MLA - after the preconferences, before BattleDecks. 6.30 - 7.30pm. We'll send out notices.

the meeting ended at 2.50pm.

Thank you to Sue for hosting us at Stevenson University!

Thank you to Debbie for helping with the falling screen.

Thank you to Cathay for helping with the virtual portion of our meeting.


In attendance @ Stevenson

Julie Strange, AskUsNow!
Cathay Crosby, AskUsNow!
Lindsay Sarin, AskUsNow! intern
Paula Chasen, AskUsNow! intern
John Krivak, PGCMLS
Christopher McGee, Allegany County
Janice Beall, Allegany County
Kendra Frost, Harford Public
Joseph Eagan, MCPL
Susan Pluhar, Pratt/SLRC
Alison Sherwell, Charles County
Cindy Thornley, Charles County
Sue Bonsteel, Stevenson
Liz Beere, Carroll Community College
Jess Ambrose, Harford Community College
Amy Swackhamer, Frederick County
Erika Hodge Harris, CCBC
Sue Tinanoff, BCPL
Debbie Barlow, Howard County
Suzy Bell, Cecil County

Virtual Attendance

Catherine McGuire, MDSLL
Betty Morganstern, AACPL
Jim Lynch, Baltimore City CC
Abi Sogunro, Montgomery College
Janice Lathrop, AACC
Amy Ford, St. Mary's County
Jeri Cain, Caroline County

Notified Absence

Cindy Todd, UMCP
Ann Wheeler, DNR
Margie Rhoden, Calvert
Theresa Mastrodonato, UMES
Mandy Hackley, Salisbury U
Bob Baldwin, Allegany College
Gregor Becker, Carroll PL

Listserv Round up since December 2010


16 - liaison meeting notes and listserv roundup were posted to the Inner Harbor: A forum was created for the liaisons to discuss the descriptive codes they want. Everyone was asked to take a look at the usability recommendations and Intern Dennis' social media strategy and submit comments on both.

- julie sends out a note about communication while she's on vacation for the rest of the year.

- julie sends a message about a Yahoo! announcement about upcoming changes to it's product line. the fate of their social bookmarking service, Delicious, was up in the air.

17 - congratulations went out to our grant supervisor, Daria Parry, who announced she is the new Associate Director at the Harford County Public Library. DLDS Marketing Specialist, Paula Isett, will be taking over as the AskUsNow! grant supervisor.

- was shared about how to filter google search results by reading level.


4 - Worcester County announces that one of their providers is going on extended leave and there is a call for coverage help.

7 - julie sends a reminder about the action items from the liaison meeting including using the forums to decide descriptive codes, commenting on the ux reccos and Intern Dennis' social media strategy. Julie also asks if the listserv roundup is still of use.

11 - julie sends the story about descriptive codes - how they work/don't work and how we might be able to use them.

24 - Cathay sends a message about printing brainfuse sessions as we had some customer questions about it

25 - three virtual QP Users Group meetings are announced

26 - we had some weather! many messages about shift coverage with late openings/closings.

28 - Julie sent out the updated liaison duties feedback was solicited.

31 - in reference to some spanish-speaking customers coming into the service asking about the "primary objectives" of AskUsNow!, the group was reminded about what to do if you get a spanish chat and don't speak spanish:


3 - Cathay posted about the Gale Librarian Superhero contest and her nomination of Julie! (you may need to be logged into facebook to get to the link)

- AUN admin solicits information about any sessions that end themselves in order to track a glitch

- January monthly report is up shows cause for concern due to a strange drop in usage: was also posted about what we're doing to combat the drop

4 - Cathay solicits information about any shifts missed due to President's Day

8 - the notes from the qustionpoint virtual user group meeting is posted - a proposal is submitted to the AUN community on changes for the customer portal: - comments still being solicited about the usage drop and plan:

- notice about a scheduled Baltimore County class visit to the service and request for volunteers

9 - Betty posted a notice that the AACPL catalog will be down until the next morning doe upgrades. Worth noting is that customers will not be able to get his or her PIN number sent to him/her via email. this will help significantly with the number of questions asked about AACPL pins. Betty will update the policy page as such.

14 - comments are shared from the teacher of the scheduled class visit: "I just wanted to expose my students to the services that the Baltimore County Public Library offers. So many of my students are not exposed to the "Real World", thanks again for allowing my students to be part of your "Real World" of information this morning! My students were thrilled to use AskUsNow service. We could have made a commercial concerning AskUsNow! One student was getting ready to ask you another question and my non readers were reading!"

18 - Jim DeArmey (BCPL) sends a note to the list about the BCPL class bombs that have been bombarding the service lately. He's on the case to work with the teacher and make sure they understand how we're staffed.

- julie announces the now customer portal is now live (

- DLDS announces the job opening for Library Grant Coordinator

20 - Intern Lindsay polls the group about readers advisory!

22 - Quality Tip Tuesday geared towards liaisons and when to close out sessions after review:

- announcement for Kent County Library director

- information about the March liaison meeting is posted, agenda and RSVPs solicited.

23 - Cathay shares an announcement about Virtual Maryland Library Legislative Days

- Cathay shares a link for a free trial to Alexander Street's Music Online

24 - QuestionPoint downtime announced. a planned 15 minutes.

28 - a webjunction "developing online patron tutorials" webinar is shared

- reminder about liaison meeting agenda items. "send 'em if you've got 'em."

- request for any in-house created AUN documentation. NAL had received a question about non-QP documentation from LOC


1- Julie shares an email from Susan McGlamery about the top 10 quality issues of 2010 as reported to the QP Quality Team.

4- Cathay asks about spring break coverage for academic partners - and then asks if anyone has an "old lady" wig - our february monthly report is online and we're seeing normal usage again!

7 - a final meeting about the liaison meeting on the 8th is sent with agenda, reminder about the parking permits and a request to arrive on time.

Meeting Pages and Notes 2005-2010

December 2010 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
10:30am - 3pm

Maryland Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
415 Park Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21201

directions to the LBPH


View Larger Map


Please send your agenda items to Julie before December 1st.

  • the state of AUN
    • reminder about schedules, AUN holidays, library closings
    • julie's vacation- email policy
    • making sure there is a back-up liaison (that J&C know) that has IH and listserv access
  • MLA AUN/AaL meetup
  • New Staff Training
    • mandatory refresher 2 hrs per year - quizes, videos, etc., in order to maintain AUN eligability
  • marketing - what are people doing? press releases? tacking us on to discussions about HW, SATs, college visits? are people even discussing these at their libraries?
  • rockstar librarian team update and next steps
  • askusnow internships / volunteers- introductions, farewells, and next steps
  • update on usability testing
  • QP update / install
    • descriptive codes - oy
    • automatic wait msgs - dec 12th
  • Texting using Ask A Librarian from Mosio – how ‘s it going for those systems who signed up for it?

  • Tour of LBPH


There’s pay parking on the street and a pay lot directly across the street at Park and Franklin (5$ a day).


December 2010 Liaison Meeting Notes

Introductions and Welcome

Starting with our online contingent, we went around the room for introductions and welcomes. This was Cathay's first meeting back. Also joining us were Dennis Nangle and Lindsay Sarin - admin interns for AskUsNow!

The State of AskUsNow!

Cathay reminded the group about holidays and scheduling - no substitute is needed for days that AskUsNow! is closed. Also, global hours continue to take priority when finding substitutes for shifts. 

Julie reminded the group about making sure there is a back-up Liaison when the regular Liaison is out for an extended period of time. Let Julie or Cathay know so they can update the Contact information. The back-up liaison should also be on the AUN listserv and added to certain areas of QuestionPoint so that they are alerted to new activity. 

Julie will be out for two weeks of leave over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Her last day will be December 17th until January 3rd. She asked about the plausibility of setting her email to "auto delete" after a warning so that she can start 2011 fresh. Janice Beall (Allegany Co) suggested that the auto msg state that Cathay is the contact but if it's important for Julie to respond, to contact her again after January 3rd. 

MLA  AUN/AaL meetup

MLA this year is a joint conference with DLA (Delaware Library Association). On the Wednesday of the conference, AskUsNow! will be hosting a social at the hotel bar (specifics forthcoming) instead of a program or meeting. All AskUsNow! and Delaware's Ask A Librarian providers are encouraged to come. A good time will be had by all. 

Internships / Volunteers

Dennis Nangle is wrapping up as our admin intern. This past semester he worked on a Social Media Strategy for AskUsNow!. AUN has been on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other social spaces for a few years now without any real plan or point of success measure. This strategy is a jumping off point for bringing all our social media activity into alignment.

View the draft strategy and other outcomes here.

Currently, we are using HootSuite to manage everything all in once place as well as schedule our status updates on various services.

Lindsay Sarin, also a UM iSchool student who is wrapping up in May, is our incoming admin intern. She will probably be focusing on marketing, but her project for the semester has yet to be set.

We also have three chatting interns that will start in January who's primary responsibility will be to monitor AskUsNow! chatting hours.

Because of the outpouring of interest in the internship position by people who are no longer students or otherwise ineligable, the potential for a volunteer base is being considered.


There was a brief discussion about the qwidget and how many fans MCPL and AUN have on their facebook pages.

Amy Swackhamer asked if there were any Delicious modules for Drupal integration. Julie was sure there are some, but AskUsNow! is not using any of them at the present time.


Julie mentioned if you have need for marketing materials, please ask her. She has *some* highlighters and bookmarks left, as well as posters and magnets. She's hording her stash because she may not be able to buy more materials for a year or two but if you need it, she'll provide it.

Karen QW of CCBC asked about a customized button. Julie pointed her to the custom logo form on the logo page

Discussion on how various institutions are promoting AskUsNow!

In chat online:

Margie Rhoden: "we go out to all the county schools and promote AUN expecially during History Fair"

Jeri Cain said, "We promote every chance we get tying it in with our promotion of HelpNow and the difference between the two. We're working on a bookmark handout with HelpNow! instructions and definitions on one side and AskUsNow! on the other" > there was lots of interest about this bookmark. Jeri said she'd share.

Liz Beere: "we promote AUN during English 101 Library instruction."

Julie mentioned our Statistics and how we're having a low few months. email and follow-up is rising, chat is falling. Julie believes this is 100% attributed to the lack of marketing.

New Staff Training

New Staff Training is in it's final incarnation of redesign. Cathay and Julie are working on it for the beginning of 2011. (February?) The final version will look like this:

Self paced online pre-class work > 1/2 day f2f hands-on class > post class checklist (including things like "shadowed # shifts," "did # practice sessions," etc.

CEUs will continue to be offered for all pieces of training.

Also as part of training, there will now be a mandatory 1 hour per quarter (not yet set) of refresher training that AUN providers will be required to complete (for CEUs, of course). Julie is looking into what repercussions there could be for those providers who do not do at least their 4 hours yearly.

Text A Librarian

Betty M from AACPL had asked this be on the agenda. She was curious as to how things are going with those institutions who are doing it. The consensus is that there isn't a lot of marketing around it so there isn't a lot of use. Some communities aren't yet ready for this communication option so usage is low. Gregor at Carroll County says that their usage is so low, it's about $9.50 per question.

Some folks use initials to ID themselves with customers, some don't ID at all.

It seems most folks have their students / customers take out their phones during a program or instruction session and put in the information then and there - better for ease of use.

Gregor would like 24/7 texting to be a feature. Julie says you can integrated TaL with QP but only for one-interface usage, not for cooperative texting like we do with chat. That feature isn't on the horizon yet.


There was further discussion about what happens if a customer asks a question in text that requires more responses than can be handled in chat

Just like in chat, if the conversation needs to be moved to another mode, that's fine. The customer reached out to you and initiated the conversation in the way they felt comfortable - you, as the professional, should feel free to suggest the conversation move to another mode that would be more beneficial to helping the customer solve their issue.

QP Update

As of the latest install on Sunday, Dec 12th- customizable automated messages to customers are now sent at specific intervals to let them know that someone will pick up their question soon.

At a meeting with Susan McGlamery of QuestionPoint on Monday, Dec 13th, Julie heard that FULL TEXT TRANSCRIPT SEARCHING will be available in the March / April 2011 install. (YAY!)

Also, QuestionPoint backup staff is in the midst of a change and we should see an improvement in overall quality soon.

Descriptive Codes: Julie tested it and the chatting librarian will only ever see their institutions' descriptive codes (d-codes). This is not the ideal scenario but would work well enough if we had a statewide list of codes that we all used. The decision was made to have a statewide list. We will use the forums to discuss what codes we should have. (must be logged in to view/add to forums)


Cowbrowsing was brought up. Can we please have it back? How can Brainfuse offer it but QP not have it?

Julie said that QP stopped trying to make Cobrowsing work because there were other things we wanted worked on in the interface. It is possible now that we're come as far as we have that they may be able to get their 1/2 a developer back on the case. Julie will let QP know of Maryland's desires to have cobrowsing back.

Usability Testing

Thank you to Amy S., Amy F., Jess N., Jess C., Jess A., and Sarah S. for being a part of this group; we would not have gotten done as much as we did without their help. Thanks also to those who participated in the testing itself- we learned a lot from how you interacted with the site.

Recommendations have been made. Julie will combine them and send them out to the liaisons for a read before work is started changing the Inner Harbor. Check out the reccos and comment on them, please. Mostly minor tweaks. The biggest thing will be changing the landing pages for the Providers, Liaisons, and Training.

Rockstar Librarian Team

This team was formed to better recognize their peers for excellent AskUsNow! work. This team, made up of mostly providers, met yesterday and discussed how they would work. They will review sessions nominated (either by the provider themselves, or the liaison) and choose 3-5 per quarter to start with. There are Four Major categories: Personal Connection, Creative Problem Solving, Going Above and Beyond the Answer, and Process Inclusion and Education. They will work on solidifying the categories and the blurbs that describe what falls under each.

The group asked for the liaisons to decide how they wanted to nominate sessions. "Through QP" was the general sense. Julie will verify if the use of descriptive codes or the referral process for nominations.


There was discussion about the other ways to recognize the winners: a star on their MLA badge, an awards ceremony, magnet, sunglasses (a'la Elton John)

Other Discussions

Is it wrong to give a customer your work email address (or the ref desk general email) when assisting them in chat? 

No. That is up to you and your comfort level. If you do answer or follow-up with a customer outside of chat, however, we ask that you please put in a librarian only note to denote this as otherwise we will have no way of knowing that the session did indeed get followed up with

Karen QW from CCBC is concerned that she never sees customer responses coming back through QP- she does see them through her own work email.

Julie mentions possible causes: an email or transcript to a customer explicitly says not to change the subject line of the email. If a change does occur, by the customer or the customer's email program, it may not make it back into QP.

Also, if a customer comes in using an email address that is an alias, they will not be able to reply back as the QP system assumes it is a spam problem. For example: if i use (an alias) as my customer email and try to reply to a transcript sent to that address, the email actually is read as coming from (the real address) and won't go through.

Julie will look into Karen's issue specifically after the holidays.

Debbie B from Howard County mentioned Brainfuse has holiday hours during which they are closed.

Julie will change the scripts to denote there may be holiday hours in effect.

Is the law library continuing chat?

Yes. the hours may not expand from 2-4 Tues, Thurs, but Catherine is encouraging staff to log in thoughout the day as they are available to pick up- just as they have their email open all day too.

Debbie mentioned Julie's "law question" button on the site is too big. Julie said she'd make it smaller.


In attendance @ LBPH

Catherine McGuire, MDSLL
Jim Lynch, Baltimore City Community College
Tyson Fogel, LBPH
Dennis Nangle, Intern
Janice Beall, Allegany County
Lindsay Sarin, Intern
Jess Ambrose, Harford Community College
Amy Swackhamer, Frederick County
Karen Quinn-Wisniewski, CCBC
Sue Bonsteel, Stevenson U
Debbie Barlow, Howard County
Suzy Bell, Cecil County
Susan Pluhar, Pratt/SLRC
Ann Wheeler, DNR
Janice Lathrop, AACC
Sue Tinanoff, BCPL
Gregor Becker, Carroll County

In attendance virtually

Betty Morganstern, AACPL
Theresa Mastrodonato, UMES
Jeri Cain, Caroline County
Liz Beere, Carroll County Community College
John Krivak, PGCMLS
Amy Ford, St. Mary's
Mandy Hackley, Salisbury University
Mimi Bolitin, MCPL
Kendra Frost, Harford County

Notified Absence

Karen Neville, Worcester County
Alison Sherwell, Charles County
Abi/Beverly, Montgomery College
Norma Schmidt, PGCC

Listserv Round up since September 2010


13 - Julie asked people to bring any social media strategies they have for their libraries to the liaison meeting.

14 - might be useful for anyone responding to questions (particularly from school children) about the US or Maryland Constitution.

15 - Liaison meeting notes are up! ( A forum in the Inner Harbor has been set up for discussing how the virtual meeting participation went.

17 - announcement about an hour-long webinar about Mobile services for libraries presented by InfoPeople.

- Pratt Library announces their new mobile application:

- QuestionPoint install notes information including changes to policy pages

- announcement of a webinar for job seekers

21 - more on the install - selecting your queues for chat

23 - message asking people to verify their shifts on the statewide schedule

- re the creation of a star transcript team: liaisons please forward message to providers and comment on the rubrics from other services

27 - QuestionPoint will have a follow-up install on Setp 28th.


1 - AUN Maryland Hands Free Law resource list announced:

- a third install / fix will happen with QP on October 1st and October 3rd.

7 - Intern Dennis asks everyone to comment on what AUN's social media "personality" should be

13 - Julie used the list for personal research help (still haven't figured it out yet)

14 - to help with statewide librarian legal training, a form was set up to gather questions people have been asked on the desk.

20 - another QP install announcement for an install on October 24th.

- we officially welcome Cathay back as Operations Assistant.

- call for participation in the Rockstar Librarian Team

26 - has been updated with a "now with law librarians" button to encourage more legal questions be asked of our now-chatting law librarians

29 - resource list announcements for Halloween, Election Day, and the scheduled Shuttle Launch


1 - Veterans Day scheduling messages

3 - Emergency bounce announcement for QuestionPoint

7 - Julie shared "5 tips for doing things online"

12 - trouble with Julie and Cathay's meebo widgets

- getting questions about the kindle and other ebook readers

15 - A guide is issued for finding the statistics for your institution:

23 - A thanksgiving resource list is released

30 - winter holiday closings requested


3 - an issue with QP chat forms is reported and fixed.

June 2010 Liaisons Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
10:30am - 3pm

Caroline County Public Library, Central Library in Denton
100 Market Street, Denton, MD 21629


View Larger Map


Please send your agenda items to Julie before June 1st. Here's what on the list so far:

Parking & Lunch

Parking is free in the library parking lot.

Lunch options include:

  • one block from library
  • one block behind library
  • Bargain Beverage has subs and sandwiches and soups - behind the library - they fax menus to the library each day
  • Cindy's Country Store sends us menus each day
  • Snappy's (bar food) and Colosseum (Italian) do not have an online presence.
  • There is Chinese.
  • You can also drive to include McDonalds, Arby's, Burger King,

Jeri will have menus for the group and will be available to provide directions as requested.

June 2010 Liaison Meeting Notes

Welcome & Introductions

Julie thanked everyone for coming to the Eastern Shore for the meeting.

Mandy Hackley, Salsbury Univ., actually in Cardiff by the Sea, CA, Mandy is Salisbury's liaison and is now handeling all 8 hours of Salisbury's monitoring (all global hours, all nighttime or weekends which is double points for us). Mandy will be joining our meetings virtually from now on- setting the stage for others to do so as well if they are unable to attend the physical meeting.

MD State Law Library & Chat

The State Library went live on chat on June 1st and is working four hours each week; 2-4pm Tuesdays and Thursdays. They haven't made any official announcement, but we can share this with our staff and customers that law librians are available. If a law question comes in during that time while you are monitoring, take a breath and give MSLL staff a chance to pick up the chat. We can also tell our staff that are working the Info Desk at that time of day that they can recommend/show the customer AUN! and expect a Law Librarian to be monitoring. Check out the announcement for details.

This may be a temporary thing if their statistics don't show that it is worth the staff time, so we really should promote it among our staff and customers, because we want this to be a permanent thing! The hope in the future is that we can expand it to other law libraries and self-help center lawyers, get them their own queue from QP ($1k/year) and brand it as the Maryland law chat service. Please talk this up and start using it! We want it to be wildly successful!

Special Library Visibility

On Inner Harbor, there is a special libraries page that has all the information you need on it so you can link to these libraries from relevant pathfinders on your websites. Please utilize the links directly to their email webforms to help their QP stats go up.

The impetus for this page is to try to boost the use of the special libraries in the State. AACPL reports that they've already started linking to some of these libraries in their LibGuides.

300,000 Question Celebration

In just a few months, in our seventh year of service, AUN! will reach its 300,000th question. Julie is putting together celebration kits that will contain swag, posters for downloading and printing on your own, sample press releases, logos, etc. so that we can promote the service in our community. Julie brought posters to the meeting and encouraged all of us to post them throughout our community, not just in our libraries. Those who were not present at the meeting will have the posters mailed to them.

On July 15th at the North Point library of Baltimore County Public Library, we will be having a small press event to celebrate. BCPL Director Jim Fish and State Librarian Irene Padilla will be present. The event will be smaller than the 5th anniversary party we had, but you're all invited.

Julie would like a volunteer customer to pose as the 300,000th question customer at the celebration. If you have a customer that you know who has used the service and who can appear at the celebration, please contact Julie.

Julie will be presenting this at MAPLA on June 17 so our Directors will have heard about it.

Staff Support Website

The Inner Harbor site is now over 6 months old and this summer we're doing usability testing on it to make sure it's the best it can be for what you all need. A number of MD librarians, with experience testing usability, have formed a group to work on this. Members include Julie, Sarah Smith (BCPL), Tina Pickens (BCPL), Jess Nhem (Caroline County), Amy Ford (St. Mary's), Jess Chaiken (NARIC), Amy Swackhamer (FCPL), and Jessica Ambrose (Harford CC). They are still working on their timeline, but hope to have August be the “testing month” after taking June/July to get set up. They will be looking to liaisons to survey initially and to choose 1 or 2 providers to participate in the Wimba usability interview. The goal is to make Inner Harbor as useful as possible. Julie and Amy tested Wimba to see if it would work for the UX testing.

Marketing Initiatives

We are able to use Cathay's salary savings to buy magnets and other marketing items. We did magnets, instead of highlighters, because they are so much cheaper and we're hoping to reach a market we haven't totally inviltrated yet- parents, business owners, working adults, (read: non kids). We'll be getting 100,000 magnets and several thousand more highlighters.

Julie is also talking to an advertizing friend and researching how to maximize our social media presence. Julie will be making sure that AUN! MySpace and Facebook pages are up to date and that we’re doing our best at utilizing those spaces. Currently, Julie is using Twitter most regularly to update customers and promote new ideas. Julie would like to build a team of social-media-savvy volunteers who'd be willing to provide content for our pages. Julie suggested that we all become “fans” to each others library's Facebook pages.

Lori G. suggested we add an “event” on facebook for our 300,000th question.

Julie is also interested in knowing who is using flatscreen monitors, hanging in library locations, as a marketing/media tool, i.e. for “digital displays”. She is thinking about producing an info screen about AUN! that she could have ready to supply to partner libraries.

Julie referred to Inner Harbor's Marketing page, which now includes a Marketing Ideas Checklist to which we can refer for ideas on how to promote AUN! in your area. We've always relied heavily on our local partners to help spread the word on AskUsNow! but we need to step up our game. This checklist, that we will build upon with your help, will assist us in this.

How are you doing?

Well, Catherine related a sad tale about doing a stealth-law-question in the middle of a weekday and the question sad for a really long time before a librarian from another state picked it up. And the answer provided was fairly lame and none too correct.

PA did a really big promotion of the service in their schools, so that those doing global are now getting regularly hit with “class bombs”.

Howard County is moving from Horizon to Polaris. Carroll Co has recently moved to Polaris and Gregor commented that the public interface is a lot more user friendly—to the point where staff usually use the public interface for a lot of questions except account questions. HowardCo/Debbie will also be investigating options for creating a “Virtual Library”--including using QP for email reference, installing the Qwidget, etc.

Listening Tours are upcoming for St. Mary's County on June 22 and PGCMLS/PGCC on July 8, etc. BCPL, Washington, Allegheny and Carroll counties have already been visited. Notes from each meeting are posted on the Inner Harbor if you are planning a visit and are interested to know the kind of things that are discussed. You can also see the calendar and schedule a visit.

QP did have a couple of blips recently, but rode the storm. Software developments upcoming include a “librarian/customer typing” and customizable description codes. They will be customizable, Julie thinks, on the institutional level. The Qwidget development is progressing and will be usable soon. They are doing a pilot with libraries already using it (whose answer percentage is over 75% usage). QP knows we are sort of boycotting it until we are sure that it is working up to speed. Montgomery County is the only MD library using it and since they're using it in tandem with their own queue, it is working well for them. The Qwidget is also an out of the box iphone app if saved correctly. It will also work in Facebook (julie has the details, while she hasn't done it yet herself).

What's Important – Streamlining

Since Julie is on her own, she'd like to know what needs to be done versus what would be nice to be done.

Scheduling—Currently, if someone needs a sub they post it on the listserv, Julie makes a note in the Google calendar, if someone volunteers—noting it in the listserv—Julie makes a note of who volunteered on the calendar. The suggestion was made that the Google calendar be modifiable by all; that the person that needs the sub both puts a notice on the listserv as well as notes the need for the sub in the Google calendar; the person that can take the shift posts to the list; the person with the need says “thanks” on the list; the person that can take it modifies the Google calendar noting their coverage of the shift. We decided this would work, so Julie will send out an email to the listserv with the complete instructions and protocols and will post the password, and the instructions, on the Liaison's Inner Harbor page.

Notices and Emails from QP—Julie will forward everything—the default being “full disclosure”--but she will minimize (or delete entirely) the notes she sends along with the emails. Catherine (MSLL) said they can figure it out from there.

Training Modules—Cathay had done a bunch of pre-training and training and refresher-training modules on a software that AUN! has not been able to license. So, Julie is in the process of moving all the content to a different software.

She will be providing new-staff training in the late Summer.Suggestions were made that there be “homework” or some other form of accountability and competency-check, with a particular mentor assigned to each new provider, using a set list of practice questions.

There was some debate about how, or from where, to assign mentors--either internal or external. Julie also wanted input on whether ½ day in-person training might be preferable to a full-day training. Julie would like to standardize the training across Maryland, in terms of the prep-work before and homework/mentoring after. Julie will work up a plan and send it our for review before proceeding.

Some discussion occurred about how AUN! providers are chosen. Some libraries chose information staff who are both comfortable with technology and proven reference librarians; other libraries require all information staff to take the training and rotate through the service for a set amount of time; others do a sort of a combination on a branch by branch basis.

Guideline Revisions

The Guideline Revision team for 2010 did a fantastic job, thank you to all the members- John Krivak (PGCMLS), Beverly Lehrer (Montgomery College), Terry Darr (Loyola Blakefield), Theresa Mastrodonato (UMES), Shak Dhanesar (CCBC), and Jennifer Hurley (St. Mary's). The notes have been moved from the working area to the live Guidelines area under the Providers section.

Julie needs every one of us to read through the revised guidelines and make sure there are any major bloopers, semantic messes, typos, etc.

Julie expressed many thanks to the committee that worked on the revisions.

Who Wants to Host in December? (virtual meeting?)

Betty has volunteered Crofton for the December.

Julie wanted to know if we'd like to add more virtual meetings into the mix, or at least choose one of our quarterly meetings be virtual. The suggestion was made that the option of attending “virtually” be open for any meeting—whether it is virtual or fact-to-face. This will become increasingly important as budgets for travel get cut and people may not be able to be reimbursed. However, it will important that we make sure that everyone has the technology available to do it. There was discussion about what technology has been used, whether or not it worked, whether or not people liked it. Someone also suggested that we consider something other than second Tuesdays (maybe first or third?).

Thanks to Debbie Barlow (Howard County) for taking notes.

In Attendance

Julie Strange, MD AUN!
Catherine McGuire, MSLL
Jeri Cain, Caroline Co.
Betty Morgenstern, AACPL
Daria Parry, DLDS
Amy Ford, St. Mary's Co.
Margie Rhoden, Calvert
Norma Schmidt, PGCC
Ann Wheeler, MD Dept of Natural Resources
Karen Neville, Worcester Co.
Lori Guenthner, LBPH
Tyson Fogel, LBPH
Suzy Bell, Cecil Co
Janice Lathrop, AACC
Susan Pluhar, SLRC/Pratt
Beverly Lehrer, Montgomery College
Gregor Becker, Carrol Co.
Debbie Barlow, Howard CL
Kendra Frost, Harford CPL
Theresa Mastrodonato, UMES


Mandy Hackley, Salisbury
Karen Quinn Wisneski, CCBC

Notified Absence

Cindy Todd
Jess Ambrose
Mary Sommers
John Krivak
Liz Beere
Bob Baldwin
Elizabeth Hulett
Amy Swackhamer
Janice Beall
Sue Bonsteel
Alison Sherwell
Suzanne Carbone/Mimi Bolotin

Listserv Round up since March 2010


3- Julie forwarded information about a free Leading News Thought Leader TeleForum on "Mojo 101"

4- Karen QW from CCBC emails that Off Campus Access to CCBC Databases is unavailable until their server problem is fixed.

[March 8, 2010 - Liaison meeting in Rockville]

10- liaison meeting notes are available online at

11-  a forum was created for the liaisons to discuss the wording of two guidelines that need revision:

17- Maryland AskUsNow! turns 7.  Julie releases a "story campaign" to collect customer stories ( and announces a brief data sheet of the last seven years:

17 - Today, on Library Legislative Day and AskUsNow!'s 7th birthday - celebrate with us by contacting your elected officials.

18- Julie asks the list if anyone has access to the CTIA report as she works on the background research for the texting proposal.

19-  the AskUsNow! text message initiative is release:

22-  Liaisons are invited to schedule their Listening Tour for 2010.

22- The Crisis Training archive is announced and available online:

22- Jennifer Hurley (St. Mary's County), member of the Guideline Revision Team, asks all AskUsNow! liaisons to weigh in on some revisions in the forums;

26- Cathay sends a message about Easter scheduling.


7- the AskUsNow! Text a Librarian discount is set and the text proposal document is updated.

15-  A reminder about the AskUsNow! meeting at MLA is sent. RSVP is requested.

19- Registration is opened for the Reference Renaissance conference in Denver-

23- MCPL is without internet access.

25- ALA virtual conference is announced.

27- Cathay announces her new job.

28- Pratt is without internet today (restored April 29th)


3- Cathay asks for your summer schedules

5- Exciting QuestionPoint software update announcement! "the librarian is typing" and customizable descriptive codes:

5- forwarded message about QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference Cooperative update training

6- Julie shares some geodata awesomeness that she's playing with: for the customer and staff sides of the website

9- QuestionPoint went down with some issues. restored later that day.

12- Special Library Initative announced-

13- AskUsNow! releases a resource list for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill-

14- The Maryland Community Services Locator has a "hotlines" section that's worth checking out. We've added it to our "Chat Resources" area -

14- call for agenda items and rsvp for June 8th liaison meeting

17- final call for summer schedules

17- In an effort to broaden access to justice within our communities across the state, the Maryland State Law Library, in conjunction with Maryland's delegation to the Public Libraries and Access to Justice conference*, is designing a training series for public librarians around e-government and law. We have put together a brief 9 question survey to help us understand where the needs are so that we can better inform training. Please take a moment to fill it out and give us your thoughts:

18- Questionpoint issue announcement.

18- Today was Cathay's last day with AskUsNow!. AskUsNow! related items of all sorts should come directly to me from now on. The contact information on the Inner Harbor ( has been updated to reflect that.

20- Memorial Day global schedule requested

24- QP system maintenance announced

27- QP events at ALA-


1- Maryland Community Services Locator webinar:

4- Julie shares notes from her monthly VR coordinators meeting and the announcement of the closure of AskAway in British Columbia:

Sept 2010 Liaison meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
10:30am - 3pm

Calvert Library, Prince Frederick Branch [click here for information on virtual participation]
850 Costley Way
Prince Frederick, MD 20678
(410) 535-0291  

(click here for directions from the library website)

View Larger Map


10 - 10:30 Set up and help time for virtual meeting participants
10:30 - 11am

Welcome & Introductions

Montgomery College's new Liaison
AskUsNow!'s New Intern

11 - 11:15 State of AskUsNow!
11:15 - 11:20 Social Media Strategy
11:20 - 11:30 UX Update (Jess A, Jess C, Amy S, Amy F)
11:30 - noon Discussion: Dummy Library Cards
noon - 12:45 lunch
12:45 - 1:15 Discussion: Creating a Star Transcript Team
1:15 - 1:45

Live Law chat and Special Library activity

1:45 - 2:15

Discussion: Descriptive Codes
(Admin > Institution (not Sub Group) > Settings > Descriptive Codes)

2:15 - 2:30 Discussion: Mentoring
2:30 - 3pm Open Discussion: How's It Going


Parking & Lunch

There is ample free parking in the lot next to the library.

For lunch: Panera Bread is across the parking lot, Mama Lucia’s, Nicks of Calvert Deli (subs for 3.99), Five Guys, Salaritas, Ruby Tuesdays are down the next block, Pizza Hut (take out only) and Crystal Palace-chinese buffet. As always, feel free to bring your lunch!


If anyone would like to carpool to this meeting, please use the listserv to coordinate that- just email We’ll have a lot of people passing each other on the roads down to Calvert and it'd be nice to coordinate some gas and environment saving. Plus, it gives us all an opportunity to have more time to get to know each other.

I will be heading down early (for arrival between 9:45 and 10am) but am coming from the Laurel, Anne Arundel County area if anyone wants to travel with me and doesn’t mind the early start and late ending.

Listserv Round up since June 2010


9 - As per the discussion at the liaison meeting about getting a substitution for AskUsNow! shifts you are unable to cover, the insitution requesting the sub and the institution covering the hour are now responsible for updating the Google Substitution Calendar. Procedure can be found on the sub schedule page. Julie has the password which was also sent in this day's listserv message.

9 - Julie forwarded a message from the 24/7 Reference cooperative about adding your summer reading information and events to the policy pages.

11 - QuestionPoint install with new features coming this Sunday. Install notes at

11 - After finding a mis-represented time zone in one of the partner institutions settings, Julie asked everyone to check their timezones:

Log in to QP as an admin, click on "profile" from the "select service" drop down menu in the upper right corner and then click "institution info" under the "institution services" tab. And please make sure your timezone is listed as "(GMT -5) Eastern Time"

11 - Message asking those libraries located near Baltimore County to keep an eye out for a representative AskUsNow! customer that can attend the 300k celebration.

15 - QuestionPoint had a webinar about reports. Notes were posted to the Inner Harbor:

18 - Forwarded announcement of the SLRC UNconference

21 - The 300k celebration toolkit for marketing AskUsNow! and celebrating our 300,000 questions was sent out to liaisons, statewide marketing folks, and others.

21 - announcement of the QuestionPoint survey

23 - announcement of ALA programs of interest

23 - NEW QUALITY TIP: email addresses & follow-up

23 - announcement about staffing on July 5th

23 - report and webinar announcement about the 4th in a series of studies about Technology Resources



1 - Margie (Calvert) sent some revisions for the AskUsNow! Service Guidelines (typos)

2 - See the QP blog for the discussion at the Users Group meeting at ALA

6 - Julie sent a reminder about policy pages and including information on how to renew your library card

6 - Official announcement of the removal of the old AskUsNow! Partners Page

6 - announcement and invitation to the AUN press event celebrating 300k questions

7 - a request to add the facebook event for our 300k press event to your library's facebook pages

14 - early bird registration announced for the Reference Renaissance conference in Denver

14 - reminder to take the QP survey, asking about what we want / like / dislike / would do.

16 - 2011 Liaison Meeting Dates

23 - Congratulations to the 9 AskUsNow! providers who graduated in the 2010 class of the Maryland Library Leadership Institute!

26 - request for all links / photos for any local 300k celebrations you held

28 - Congratuations to 300,000 questions! (press event wrap up)

30 - Inner Harbor usability testing- volunteers needed



2 - announcement of July monthly report

3 - two new staff training sessions announced

4 - announcement for QP virtual users group meeting (two meetings)

4 - reminder about usability testing - volunteers needed

6 - forwarded information about an ebook seminar being held online

13 - Reference Renassaince and SLRC Unconference notes now online

13 - reminder about usability testing - volunteers needed

16 - last call for Usability testing volunteers

16 - Betty let us know the AACPL catalog would be down for maintenance Aug 17 - 19th

17 - forwarded information about free Pubmed workshops

19 - Operations Assistant Position now open! Apply now!

19 - Note about American Libraries article on NYPL and their crisis guidelines, reminder that we've got them too (and first!)

30 - one spot left for tomorrow's New Staff training

30 - note about September 6th Labor Day holiday closings


7 - still time to apply for the Operations Assistant position!

8 - forwarded message, Open University in the UK joins the 24/7 Academic cooperative. this only affects MD academic libraries who monitor global.

8 - Liaison meeting: rsvp and agenda

9 - kendra sent a message about carpooling to the liaison meeting

September 2010 Liaison Meeting Notes

Introductions + Welcome

This is the second time we've had a virtual component to our liaison meetings but the first time we had people join us en masse. And i must say it worked really well! Blended meetings are hard to manage and i thank everyone for giving it a shot and being patient with the technology! Julie will be following up with everyone to see how it went and how it can be done better next time. I think it's safe to say that having a virtual component is the new normal for AUN liaison meetings.

The State of AskUsNow!

We have an intern!

Julie Strange introduced Dennis Nangle, AUN!'s new intern. Dennis is in his last semester at UM and has been working in various capacities in libraries since the age of 16. We hope that the Internship will become a permanent opportunity for library science students. Welcome Dennis!

We have a budget!

AUN's budget passed for FY2011 and we were able to secure funding for a part-time assistant and is currently accepting applications. There is no money for Marketing for this year but with salary savings from FY2010 we were able to purchase 100,000 magnets and 5,000 highlighters.

Montgomery College's New Liaison

Beverly L. is stepping down as the Liaison for MCCC and Abi S. will be taking her place. Welcome Abi! Beverly will be staying on as an AUN provider. Thanks Beverly! We'll miss you at the meetings!

Social Media Strategy

Because of the budget situation for marketing, we will be relying on social media and WOM to carry our message. To that end, we're creating a strategy to be more purposeful in how we utilize twitter, facebook, and the like. Right now we're just doing it because we're doing it - not to any specific plan.

Julie would like to receive copies of any “social media” initiatives/plans/written goals any of our libraries happen to have in place.  Also plan to help her put together a plan or mission statement or written strategy about AUN!'s involvement with social media.

Julie has been told about “Hoot Suite” which is a social media aggregator that allows you to place a single message that is posted on each of your social media formats. AUN will be using it to manage their social media.

UX Usability Update

Amy updated the group as to the progress of the team (see the group page here). The group's timeline is to complete testing in September and make recommendations for the website in October. We're using Wimba for the one hour tests so we can do it virtually and still see where the participant is clicking around.

Dummy Library Cards

Please reread the great explanation of the use of the Dummy Cards. It is designed to help those of us that have had difficulty in the past convincing our administration or our vendors that we are actually still serving our own customers via this service. The goal of providing a dummy card number, is to help provider librarians, wherever they may be, help your customers best access your resources—that is, databases as well as library accounts.

Julie is strongly encouraging each and every institution to make a dummy library card available to the AUN! Providers on our Policies Pages. If you haven't been able to, what are the reasons?

Montgomery College only provides onsite access for non-student and are concerned about licensing considerations, as are others.

John K. brought up the issue of getting providers to actually use the number provided on our Policy Pages. Susan McGlamery has been working on better communicating the importance of referring to Policy Pages.

Cathay had developed a number of online tutorial videos (using Qarbon Viewlet Builder software*), including one on using Policy Pages, that will be available at Inner Harbor very soon. EBSCO is also developing “geo-location” for use of their databases, as is Gale. So, in the future, this may be be a non-issue for the majority of the databases to which our libraries subscribe.

* Julie says there are lots of cheaper alternatives to this software, if you are exploring video tutorials for your library

Another concern is about people coming into the [college's] weblink that are not actually students. Julie mentioned that, statistically, this is very rare. But when it does happen, it is important to remember that the provider is not sharing the dummy card number with the customer and that part of the interaction should be to guide the customer to resource available to him via his local public library, etc.

An aside...

Jeri brought up the lack of cobrowse again—why we no longer have it, why isn't it available—when services that have cobrowse are out there and available. Julie will check those other services out again and speak with QP.

How important is cobrowse?

Creating a Star Transcript Team

Julie passed around booklets that Ask Colorado and Know It Now (OH) put together by their “quality assurance” teams. These monthly reports highlight great customer service by providers (see also Oregon, AskWa of Washington State). Julie would like us to try something similar by forming a team. Group members would randomly pick a day to review for great transcripts and there would also be the opportunity for providers to self-nominate. Group Members would then report to AUN! members as determined.

Julie would like to ask for volunteers and develop a basic framework for how it would work, a rubric for nomination, and what kind of reporting would happen. One suggestion would be for liaisons to provide nominees from among their weekly-reviewed transcripts, which the Team would review. Julie would like providers to be involved on this Team. Julie will send a notice on the listserv that we can forward to our folks. Seven is about the number that sounds good for this team but Julie still is not sure about time commitment.  We are hoping to have this up and running in time to plan an event/announcement for the Stellar Librarians at MLA in the Spring (May 4-6, 2010).


Should reporting be monthly? quarterly? – Quarterly seems too long between and there may be issues with records being “washed” of provider info if we wait that long. So monthly seems more regular, if not more practical.

We like the idea of taking advantage of liaison-review of transcripts. Julie will develop a form on Inner Harbor OR she will also investigate the possibility of using the “referral to email Partner” or “referral to Partner Subscription” options within QP.

Attendees also discussed developing the “rubric”/guidelines and whether or not someone who volunteers for the committee may or may not be the best provider or the best judge of the best provider.  So a very clearly defined list of criteria that must be met for a transcript to be considered. It should be short and sweet (maybe five criteria). There may be multiple providers to create one really great transcript.

Regarding reporting: It won't be necessary for the transcripts to be scrubbed while the committee is looking at them, but this will definitely have to be done before any sort of publication. Announcements will necessarily be in the month following the month being considered.

Live Law Chat and Special Library Activity

followup on

Thank you, Worcester County, for promoting Maryland's Special Libraries via your webpage!

Thanks also to PGCMLS and AACPL who's been able to add some as well to their pages!

The Law Library has been providing online chat reference via AUN! on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2pm to 4pm for about 4 months now.

Catherine is having problems determining how much to promote it and and how to balance her coverage. She knows she can add 2 more hours during the week. One idea is for the MSLL to purchase its own queue and add providers to cover more hours. MSLL isn't really ready to market to the general public yet, but they'd like us to try to use it at our desks with/for our customers.

Julie'd like all AUN! members to promote the service to our Information Desk staff. Julie is in the process of remodeling an AUN! Logo to highlight the Law service and Catherine would like to add that logo to the MD's Peoples Law website. Currently, however, the MSLL is in the process of totally redesigning that webpage, so adding the logo will have to wait. If we have any ideas about how to promote it and/or get our staff to really take advantage of the hours currently scheduled.

MSLL may also be monitoring on times other than those published. Catherine is encouraging her five librarians to monitor at their desks or when the ref-desk is really slow, so there is a good chance they may be on if we have a needy customer that we haven't been able to help ourselves.

Ann suggested Catherine place fliers at each of the County Law Libraries. Debbie also suggested marketing to large law firms, but Catherine explained that they are really trying to reach the general public and that going to Peoples Law or chat would not be the direction actual lawyers would go. Margie asked about marketing to the County's social services agencies, but Catherine suggested that idea might be more like a “Step 2” after marketing to the Public/County libraries.

Another aside...

NRSC (non-rude serial customers) became a tangential line of conversation. Julie will be looking at the isp addresses of a repeat customer that came up in conversation.

Descriptive Codes

We now have the ability, on an institutional level, to create descriptive codes. Each of us can produce our own, but we could also use an AUN!-wide list. We want to at least have a “Law” tag. For example, Montgomery County has their own list that they use on their own queue.

Questions that arose included:

  • who has to report what? statewide – youth vs. adult, number of encounters
  • what would be other goals of having and using descriptive codes? adjusting staff, tutor referral, website redesign
  • if we do this, would we be able to look up this up via reports? yes
  • will we be able to tag the emails as well as the chat? yes
  • we can communicate among ourselves the need for providers to definitely use them, but how do we get the other/24/7 providers to use them?

Comments/Ideas included:

  • there probably aren't enough differences in what we'd all like to merit having individual lists
  • we really only need to tag law
  • we really need to be able to see the codes for the customer's library
  • ebooks & downloadables
  • does "homework" = k-12 or include college?
  • you can tag using up to four codes per transcript

We want to keep the list short and clear enough that no additional explanation/definition is needed.  Not Ambiguous!!

We will hash this out in Inner Harbor—that is, attempt to come up with 5 basic statewide and then each institution can have their own additional. Julie will check to see how the lists are viewed by the providers in chat (local then statewide then national?). If it doesn't work the way we hope, Julie will let us know right away, so we don't spin our wheels.


Julie wants to create an official mentoring program. What that means is... since her training line in the budget has gone to zero and since Cathay's videos will be available soon, any new staff training will involve more and more pre-training homework and only a half-day in-person training. Post-training follow-up will be done more with mentors. How do we want to do this? Do we want to do it on a training-by-training basis or have an ongoing group? Should mentors be from the person's library or one closeby? Should we create a mini-team to work out the details on this, or should we just work out the details here? Do other services have something similar? Could we have a new-providers discussion board on Inner Harbor that is monitored by more experienced staff. Is it possible to survey each liaison to see if they really need someone from outside their system to guide/mentor their new people? Most of us are doing it when we get a new provider. Is it possible to survey each of the new providers to see if they need the extra help? Maybe this all came up because the Law Library was really starting from scratch and needed an outside person to help hold their hands.

ulie is trying to streamline this system, codify it a bit more.

John (PGCMLS) remembered that AUN used to have a "post training checklist" that the liaison had to sign off on that included specific situations to practice with. the formal Mentoring idea fell flat, since it's already sort of being done locally. Julie will find/create the post training checklist and call it a day.

How's It Going?

  • Catherine M. with send to the listserv that Judiciary Office of Communications have created an information webpage that they put up for Constitution Day. See for the press release and to go straight to the website
  • Thanks again to everyone who've loaded the Special Libraries links on their websites! If you haven't already, take a look and see if they might be useful to add!
  • Julie is trying to reduce the number of emails she sends and to put more and more current info on Inner Harbor. How many people use RSS feeds to get new info from Inner Harbor? (one) You can use RSS feeds to keep up with different parts of the site. Julie found out about a module that she hopes to start using for the monthly reports that creates a "newsletter" that is automatically emailed.
  • Howard County is reviewing their involvement in AUN! in preparation for building and synchronizing their “virtual” services.
  • Text-A-Librarian—who has signed on? SouthernMD and Washington Co. Caroline County is bringing it up sometime soon. Carroll County is reevaluating.
  • Wimba Attendees were asked to provide Julie with feedback about their experience. (she'll also send an email)

Meeting adjorned 2:45pm


Thank you to Debbie (Howard County) for taking the notes.
Thank you also to Amy F. (St. Mary's) and Amy S. (FCPL) for being faciliators for the virtual participants!


In Attendance (in room)

  • Catherine McGuire, MSLL
  • Margie Rhoden, Calvert Library
  • Shak Dhanesar, CCBC
  • Alison Sherwell, Charles County PL
  • Dennis Nangle, AUN! Intern
  • John Krivak, PGCMLS
  • Jeri Cain, Caroline County PL
  • Theresa Mastrodonato, UMES
  • Beverly Lehrer, Montgomery College
  • Abi Sogunro, Montgomery College
  • Norma Schmidt, PGCC
  • Amy Swackhamer, FCPL
  • Susan Pluhar, SLRC/EPFL
  • Deborah Barlow, Howard County
  • Amy Ford, St. Mary's
  • Jim Lynch, BCCC
  • Julie Strange, AUN!

In Attendance (virtually)

  • Betty Morganstern, AACPL
  • Ann Wheeler, DNR Carter Library
  • Kendra Frost, Harford CPL
  • Mandy Hackley, Salisbury
  • Janice Beall, Allegany County
  • Mimi Bolotin, MCPL
  • Sue Tinanoff, BCPL
  • Jessica Ambrose, Harford Community College
  • Liz Beere, Carroll Community College
  • Janice Lathrop, AACC

Notified Absence

  • Elizabeth Hulett, Washington County
  • Tyson Fogel, LBPH
  • Bob Baldwin, Allegany College
  • Karen Neville, Worcester County
  • Sue Bonsteel, Stevenson University
  • Suzy Bell, Cecil County

March 2010 Liaisons Meeting

Where? When?

Tuesday, March 9, 2009
10:30am - 3pm

Rockville Library, Montgomery County Public Libraries
second floor meeting room (which runs cold so come prepared)
21 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850


View Larger Map


Please send your agenda items to Julie before March 1st. Here's what on the list so far:

  • Listening Tour : Round Two
  • AskUsNow! Guidelines Revision
  • Maryland State Law Library chat participation
  • QuestionPoint's new texting and mobile options
    • Gregor will talk about Carroll County's experiences with texting
  • Training Update
  • Staff website update

Parking & Lunch

Parking costs $1 an hour in the parking deck across the street from the library.

There are many lunch options in the area. Check out the Rockville Town Square website for listings.

March 2010 Liaison Meeting Notes


The meeting started a little past 10:30am and began with role call and an ice breaker (what's your favorite beer).

Listening Tour

At the end of 2008, Julie did a "Listening Tour" with nine libraries around Maryland. The time at each library was used however the liaisons and staff wanted to use it. It was an opportunity for providers to ask questions, share ideas, etc. We see the liaisons quarterly but rarely get to see providers so we would like to do another Listening Tour, both Cathay and Julie. It will be informal for providers to ask questions, talk, etc. We want to visit every partner library between now and the end of 2010. Each visit will take at least an hour or two, depending on the needs of the library but can be scheduled and set up however the library prefers.

A Google Calendar will be created with C&J's open days (including half and full days). Liaisons will be invited to the calendar for scheduling.

Training update

Crisis Training - An additional round of Crisis Trainings wrapped up at the end of February making a total of five since the end of 2009. The wimba archive and powerpoint will be archived online so that people can still take advantage of it as no further live trainings are planned to be scheduled at this time.

Jeri said that they are being asked for “the next level” of crisis training (such as the Black Belt librarian’s training). Julie asked: Does anyone know if he has an archive of his talk? Seems like no. Merlin offers self paced online training through Skillsoft and there is a “Dealing with Difficult People/Patrons?” training.

New Staff Training (NST)- The new staff training continues to be revamped. The current plan is to have more self-paced pre-class workshops/assignments (perhaps using Viewlet Builder (Qarbon)).

A suggestion was made to create a more formalized follow-up procedure/training for those who recently went through NST. We had a discussion about NST and training those who do not get right on the live chat schedule. One idea is to have two people rotate an hour and then one is a back up for another.

Marketing the logo on websites

We had an impromptu discussion about the AskUsNow! logo on the partner library websites. The “letter of intent” is the contract that every partner library signs before coming on with AUN as an official partner library and states, "It is understood that our institution will [...] add a standardized branded link to AskUsNow! on the library's homepage."

Having a logo predominately displayed on the website increases use. Cecil County is having trouble getting the logo on the homepage.

Account Questions / Policy Pages

Debbie talked about referrals and how simple circulation questions can often be answered using Policy Pages. Julie and Cathay are always in contact with non-maryland and QuestionPoint librarians about policy pages. They will develop and send out a “how to handle account questions” email/blog post for both AUN librarians and for the QP coop. Mimi suggested having Policy Pages more predominately displayed – perhaps while in chat. “No email” should be red or a popup so chatters will see this, and not wait until after the chat is ended.

Maryland State Law Library & Chat participation

The MDSLL will be joining AskUsNow! as a live chat partner after seven faithful years as an email follow-up subject matter expert. The starting plan is that once MDSLL librarians are trained, they will be available through live chat to pick up MD law questions or to have law questions transferred to them in live chat. The schedule of when MDSLL librarians would be monitoring will be publicized to all AskUsNow! librarians so they know when they'd have live access to a law librarian.

The potential future plan is to have MDSLL or AUN purchase a separate queue ($1,000 yearly) for a Branded Law Library chat which can be staffed by the state's law librarians and other law professionals.

This idea has been in the ether for a while but in January, Julie was one of the three Maryland delegates to an Access to Justice conference in Austin Texas. Sarah Frush from the Glen Burnie Self Help center and Cathy Ashby, Director of Garrett County Public Libraries were also representing Maryland.

There are multiple training opportunities within this access to justice arena. Catherine provides training on how to handle law questions; she travels for face to face training. She also welcomes librarians who need help on the floor while helping patrons with law questions. AUN wants to do an “Information vs. advice” training for AUN librarians (online through Wimba?).

John noted that having the law librarians on is also a boon to front desk librarians around the state - the librarians themselves would be able to log in to AskUsNow! and chat with the law librarian on behalf of their f2f customer.

It was suggested that AACPL’s providers could co-pilot with the newly trained providers from the State Law Library.


A student and employee at UMUC has approached Julie about interning with AskUsNow! on the admin side. We're looking into how to do/formalize this. The future hope is to have various interns and programs for library students as well as students of marketing and business.

Inner Harbor Staff Support site

The Staff Support site (or, AskUsNow! Inner Harbor - is coming along nicely. Here's what's still on the way:

  • hover menu buttons (for easier navigation)
  • tag (or category) clouds
  • easier navigation of the Help & Support topics
  • events/training calendar
  • prettier front page design (eventually)
  • usability testing. We hope to get the Drupalization Team back together to start UX (user experience/usability) testing in April.

Julie gave a run-down on how to use the site including how to log in to discuss in the forums and add new content (such as a blog posting). All AskUsNow! providers are invited to set up accounts in the Inner Harbor site. All Liaisons already have accounts, please contact us if you do not remember your log in information.

Help and Support is growing with links to QP documentation (Thanks Beverly for the suggestion!)

Improvements were suggested for consideration:

  • Rename "Fast Facts" as “statistics” or reports).
    • done! it's now called "Reports & Stats." thanks!
  • How do people log onto QP from here? Can we add the button to every page?
    • Currently there is a QP button on the left of the front landing page.
  • How to get “home?"
    • You can click on the "Maryland Inner Harbor" title at the top of every page to get back to the home screen but we will consider a "home" tab.
  • Perhaps have a “suggestion box” available in the community area so that liaisons will offer ideas for improvement.
  • Is there a standard for usernames?
    • We’ve been using full first and last names so far so that people are easily identifiable.

Lunch break – 12:17 to 1:15pm

AskUsNow! Guidelines Revision 2010

2010 is an AskUsNow! Guideline Revision year. Our team this year includes John Krivak (PGCMLS), Beverly Lehrer (Montgomery College), Shak Dhanasar (CCBC), Theresa Mastrodonato (UMES), Terry Darr (Loyola Blakefield School), and Jennifer Hurley (St. Mary's County Public Library). We've been revising the guidelines in a separate area on the Inner Harbor Staff Support website so that the team could learn and play around with Drupal.

The proposed order for the guidelines was floated to the group and agreed upon:

  1. Introduction (includes “Who we are, what we do” and “What these guidelines are for”)
  2. How the Service Works
    • The structure of AskUsNow! (who, where)
    • Who is responsible for what (this would be a new section listing admin, liaisons, and provider expectations)
    • How we communicate with each other (the section about the Inner Harbor and the listserv)
    • Scheduling
    • Marketing (which would, among other things, include that “connecting with customers” section from the current communications page)
  3. Guidelines for Chat Sessions (where most of the bulk will live)
    • Requirements and competencies (the section about tech requirements and being off the physical desk, and tech competencies)
    • Handling a chat (picking up, how long to wait, the software proficiencies etc)
    • Reference Policies
    • Communicating with customers (behaviors check list, best practices, the interaction proficiencies )
    • Crisis Guidelines

The Guideline Revision Team (GRT) had specific items to discuss with the whole group:

What do we name the "legalese" page?
It's currently titled "The Fine Print" and that title was agreeable to everyone present. So it sticks.

What should the "homework help" policy read?
Need to create a “homework help” policy, to include when to include resources like, have a guideline about when referral is needed. When do we answer one or two questions backed up with a resource, and when do we know when to refer the patron? There is an important difference between Policy and Guidelines, and it would be helpful to have a description. “Treat the question just as if it was an adult who walked in and asked.” – Betty. “Treat homework questions as regular questions…” Even if Tutoring services are available, there are certain kinds of questions that should not be referred to them. What is likely to go “I need to understand how to do math” and “I need to understand the concept” and “I need someone to read this and give me feedback.” If there is a patron who is asking numerous questions within the same chat, perhaps it is better to deal with this rather than just sending them over to “Librarians will strive to provide a hybrid way of answering the patron’s question.” – paraphrased from Oregon. Perhaps linking sample transcripts for modeling good answers is helpful. On the interest of time this discussion was moved to the forum (you will need to log in to the Inner Harbor to access that link).

How should the "personal opinions" section read?
It was decided that this should stick to discussing what you can and cannot do regarding legal and medical questions. The GRT will wordsmith this and run it past the whole group again.

How should the "Explicit materials" section be revised?
In the interest of time, this discussion was moved to the forum (you will need to log in to the Inner Harbor to access that link).

QuestionPoint's Qwidget Roll-up Pilot

The Qwidget is another QuestionPoint customer interface that can be embedded on any website/page. Customers using this interface come in to the librarian's interface the exact same way as usual but have the note "Qwidget" in front of their question (this is ipmortant to note because the customer won't have page pushing abilities so they'll only see the URLs you send).

The Qwidget interface has been available for a while now but AskUsNow! on the whole has been hesitant to use this interface because customers who enter through the Qwidget are never seen by all of the Maryland librarians that would be monitoring the live chat at that time and those customers are NEVER rolled up to the 24/7 cooperative or QP backup staff.

Because Qwidget roll-up has been a hot topic since it's initial release, QuestionPoint has recently started a pilot that lets the customers of certain Qwidget libraries roll up to be visible by the rest of the librarians monitoring the live global queues. Please see the announcement about this Pilot project.

This pilot is good news for us as we hope to be able to offer a 24/7 Qwidget interface but currently does not affect us at all other than those MD librarians monitoring the global queue will now have to be aware of customers coming in through these interfaces.

Additional Information about the Qwidget in Maryland

Anyone currently with AskUsNow! could set up a qwidget for their use as long as they are aware of the following issues:

  • customers using a public library qwidget would not be seen by the Maryland academic librarians monitoring at the time (and vise versa)
  • customers using any Maryland qwidget (read: any qwidget from a library not involved in the pilot) would never be seen by any 24/7 backup staff which makes the interface NOT a 24/7 one (and therefore could not be AUN branded).

Montgomery County Libraries are currently the only Maryland library using the qwidget on their website. They are able to do this because they've also purchased their own queue from QuestionPoint at the rate of $1000 a year which enables them to monitor for MCPL customers above and beyond their AUN hours. 

The Qwidget lives on the library’s page. URLs sent through the qwidget opens up a new window. Patron’s will get a transcript as per usual. You know when patrons come in through the qwidget because it will say “Qwidget” instead of “Chat Transcript” in the question’s header. Julie mentioned that in the AskUsNow! Monthly Reports, Qwidget use is being reported for MCPL.

QuestionPoint + Text a Librarian

Text A Librarian (TAL) is a service by Mosio that enables you to text with your customers (see the Text A Librarian Info - 16 page pdf for details). Recently, QuestionPoint announced that it's collaborating with TAL to integrate your TAL service (should you have one) with QuestionPoint so you can use one interface for all your e-reference. Check out Julie's QP + TAL Integration slides.

Currently Carroll County is the only MD library system with text reference. Gregor reported Carroll County’s use. They get only 23-24 questions a month. AskUsNow! is done in their centralized telephone reference department but the texting is handled by the librarians at the branches. They get questions from times that they are closed, such as on Sunday. There are customizable auto-generated messages so for instance, patron gets a generic message that says “We’ll answer when we are open…” (or something similar) when CCPL is closed.

Julie spoke with Gabe @TAL the night before the liaison meeting to discuss pricing and options. He sent her a proposal for various scenarios. See for general pricing information. There is a "new customer" discount in effect with TAL and currently QP is offering a slight reduction in their contract fees if you have a TAL subscription and integrate it with QP.

Discussion: How does this work with QuestionPoint? Can we log into QP and then only have one login? It would be great to have the systems of Maryland to all “buy in” on this, and Julie could work with TAL for the best deal.

Julie will work up an exec summary with the following information so that liaisons can discuss with their libraries more knowledgeably:

  • what it looks like (TAL and TAL+QP)
  • how much it costs (various scenarios)
  • how it works (TAL and TAL+QP)
  • reports

Please check out one of TAL's scheduled demos at (Thanks Jeri for the link).


Thank you to Cathay for taking the meeting notes.

Meeting adjourned: 3:00pm 

In attendance

Amy Ford, St. Mary's County
Amy Swackhamer, Frederick County
Alison Sherwell, Charles County
Betty Morgenstern, AACPL
Beverly Lehrer, Montgomery College
Catherine McQuire, MDSLL
Deborah Barlow, Howard County
Gregor Becker, Carroll County
Karen Quinn-Wisnieski, CCBC
Janice Beall, Allegany County
Jeri Cain, Caroline County
Jessica Ambrose, Harford County Community College
Jim DeArmey, BCPL (filling in for Sue T.)
John Krivak, Prince Georges County
Kendra Frost, Harford County
Margie Rhoden, Calvert County
Mimi Bolotin, MCPL
Susan Pluhar, SLRC/Pratt
Suzy Bell, Cecil County
Theresa Mastronado, UMES
Tyson Fogel, MDLBPH
Julie Strange, AUN
Cathay Crosby, AUN

Notified Absence

Elizabeth Hulett, Washington County
Janice Lathrop, AACC
Karen Neville, Worcester County
Susan Bonsteel, Stevenson University

Listserv Round up since December 09


11 - AskUsNow! proudly announces the new Staff Support website - the AskUsNow! Inner Harbor! Please update your bookmarks from to Feedback is being accepted via form

14 - A plea for additional global hours in 2010 is put out on the list. A certain number of global hours determines our QuestionPoint pricing. Over the next few weeks a record number of hours are added. Thank you everyone!

14 - The findings of Beverly Lehrer's September staffing survey released.


4 - Two New Staff Trainings are announced for February at the North Point branch of BCPL. Messages later in February about the rescheduling of these trainings due to snow closures.

7 - Julie sends an email out regarding handling local account questions.

I sometimes hear that local account or PIN questions are among the least favorite of our AskUsNow! providers. I agree! It's a rare scenario when a customer logs in and is picked up by one of their own librarians who would have access to their library account information.

Is there anything we can do?

Depending on the question, you may be able to help the customer right there in chat. If it's a catalog or account access problem, there may be useful information in the POLICY PAGES that would let you know of a default PIN or the way to navigate the self service in the catalog.

However, there are times when the library's system either isn't self service OR the question really just needs a local person with account access. Although you might not have access to a persons specific account information, you CAN make sure that the customer has provided an email address and you can let them know that we will forward their request on to their local library for answering. Other options include providing a phone number for the local library, in the case of a time-sensitive request. On our about page ( and our welcome login screen (the screen customers see when using the regular chat interface until the librarian pushes that first URL, addresses this issue and states that the customer "may be chatting with a librarian who is not from your local library, or even from Maryland and therefore would not have access to your personal library card records."

This statement, while alerting customers that we might not have access to their specific records, does not preclude us from providing after-chat or email assistance. We have an extensive referral system with almost every county in the state and we're able to make sure that customers get the assistance they need.

While providing a phone number to a customer is another option, we want to make sure that we're "moving the question, not the customer." They've already made the effort to contact us about their issue, it's our job to make sure the answer, or path to the answer, gets to them, versus making the customer go to other places for the answer.

Until the point at which all Maryland library catalogs have a robust self-help service systems or all Maryland librarians have access to all Maryland customer accounts, we will continue to have to refer, rather than answer on the spot, the local account questions.

8 - A call for volunteers for the Guideline Revision Team is put out on the listserv. 

13 - Save the date for the Reference Rennaisance Conference in Denver - August 8-10th

13 - MidWinter Tech Trends webinar is announced. Later, a message promoted the archive.

14 -  A Resource list for the Haiti Earthquake was released for librarians and customers: Additional messages of gratitude followed. This list turned out to be the most linked / retweeted / shared resource list so far in AUN history.

19 - Free leadership webinars from the Texas State Library are announced:

19 - The 2010 Maryland Library Leadership Institute is announced

19 - A call for papers for ASSIST is announced.

20 - A message was sent about the customer interface - they can now hear an audible "ding" when the librarian responds. Apparently not new news, but new to Julie.

21 - A list of library-related conferences is sent out:

21 - QuestionPoint announces collaboration with Text A Librarian:

22 - QuestionPoint virtual user group meetings are announced for February

26 - The Handheld Librarian conference is announced:

26 - A free online WebJunction-sponsored technology conference is announced:

27 - An MLA Legislative Panel Training on Advocacy is announced:


5 - A Blizzard resource list was put together and marketed to librarians and customers for the impending snowpocolypse:

9 + 10 - A flurry of messages to the list about library closures due to the snow.

12 - A message is sent asking for assistance with Maryland Librarian's ALA Emerging Leader project

December 2009 Liaison Meeting

Where? When?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
10:30am - 3pm
West County Branch, AACPL
1325 Annapolis Road, Odenton 21113

View Larger Map


10:00 – 10:30am Arrival. We will be in the meeting room on the left as you walk into the front of the building.

10:30am Start

  • How’s it going?
  • Policy pages and schedule update: Cathay
    • more global hours for 2010
  • Beverly Lehrer’s liaison survey

12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch Break.

  • 2010 Marketing Initiatives
    • Linking, expanding networks, internal marketing, Ikea idea
  • Maryland AskUsNow! Inner Harbor,
  • It’s Guideline & Policy revision time!

Parking & Lunch

Parking is ample, free, and non-restricted. Lunch options include:

  • People can eat in the meeting room or at the picnic table outside. There are also some benches out front and around the side.
  • 5 minutes: Mexican restaurant - Pachanga’s - is on Rt 170 – take a right out of the library driveway, then another right and it’s on your left.
  • About a mile away is a shopping center on Rt 175 which includes Hunan Rose - Chinese, 5 Guys Burgers, Three Brothers and Subway. (West County staff calls it the Superfresh Shopping Center.) Take a right out of the library, cross the train tracks and it’s on your right.
  • About 10 minutes away is Waugh Chapel Shopping Center with Atlanta Bread Company & Chipotle. If anyone is interested I’ll get directions from staff when at the branch.

December 2009 Liaison Meeting Notes


The meeting started at 10:30am and began with role call and an ice breaker (what's your favorite winter tradition?).

AskUsNow! Update

Customer Service Training - Cathay and Julie did two of these at Pratt in August and October. Thanks, again, to Pratt for being willing to preview this training. Feedback from these trainings was very positive. Susan Pluhar (Pratt) mentioned that the trainings were helpful, especially for newer providers. We’re planning to do it online – via Wimba in the new year. And probably a self-paced training can be worked up as well. If anyone would like to have this training at their libraries, we can schedule now. There is interest in Montgomery County for scheduling one. More details about the training.

Crisis Training was offered four times in the last two months and they went very well. A Huge thank you to Jeri Cain and Jennifer Blunt. An archived version will be created in January (hopefully) to make it available for future use.

New Staff Training: We're going to try to schedule one in the 2nd week of January – but perhaps the last week of January or beginning of February (when academic libraries are back). There are a few who are signed up.

AskUsNow! University will continue to provide more opportunities for free learning (and CEUs) and will be a focus for us in 2010.

The Special Library Linking Project is not yet completed. Started in June, this idea would give our Special Library  / Referral Partners higher visibility among our customers in the state. A wiki was set up to hold all the information. Julie will finish creating the email webforms (with the help of the special library partners) by the end of January for release to the rest of the state for use.

QuestionPoint issues – After a QuestionPoint Advisory Board meeting in November, Julie wrote about the big issues plaguing QuestionPoint in September and October. The issues seem to be solved as QuestionPoint completes the migration to their new back-end database (made mandatory by OCLC). We did have a blip of problems earlier this week and late last, but it was mild. September 28th daily counts are quadrupled and still not fixed.

How’s it going?

  • Margie mentioned that their numbers have gone up in Calvert County. This is due to them bringing students into the library in October and November and marketed AUN during this time.
  • Qwidget usage continues to climb in Montgomery County.
  • BCPL’s electronic resources (catalog, databases outside of Sailor, patron accounts) are off-line until sometime this Thursday because of their switch to Polaris. Sue will update the Policy Pages soon after they are online to make sure all the information is correct. John Krivak mentioned that they had migrated to Polaris within the last year and it’s doing well. He said they found reserves doubled (at least). Amy B. mentioned they are migrating to new ILS next year.
  • Suzy Bell (CCPL) is having trouble keeping staff. Perhaps the circulation manager can help – he is eager, provides reference back up and would like to be trained on AskUsNow!.
  • Can anyone provide AskUsNow! or do they have to be degreed librarians? If they are trained to handle reference questions in your institution and are given AskUsNow! training, they can provide AskUsNow! service. Enthusiasm and great customer service ethic always a plus.
  • Julie asked: “Is there anything you need from AUN that will help you provide your service?” Highlighters! They will be coming very soon. Julie's been hording them after the lost memo incident but they will be sent out before the end of January. Contact Julie if you need them before this.
  • A "Power QP User” training will be developed to bring in advanced techniques. This will be a self-paced training. Julie will solicit help from liaisons and providers to develop this training. (Policy Pages should be included in this.)
  • Sue T. mentioned that BCPL is thinking about incorporating the qwidget, so that questions could be targeted toward the branches. BCPL would have to purchase a queue (about $1000 a year).
  • If you have a referred question, do you always have to “claim” it? Yes, use the claim button if it is there. Otherwise you might have mulitple people working on the same question at the same time.
  • Do you have to put in a librarian’s note to cross reference if there are more than one question? Yes, please do. Sorry, there's no way to do this in bulk.
  • If you add a customer's email or change it, please always close the original question so that the two transcripts are cross referenced.
  • If you need to respond to a customer, do you have to respond within QP? It’s preferred, but if you don’t, put in a librarian’s note on the transcript what you replied and that you replied, just to keep that up to date in case we need to know what happened with something in the future.
  • How do you find the “kind words” (customer comments) on the surveys? Go into QP, survey reports, scroll down to “view comments” and you can define the date, click “search.” Or contact Julie (she received a comments file recently for Maryland). Our Twitter feed has comments, too, but they are not specific to library systems.
  • Monthly reports will start being promoted to the AUN community.

Policy Pages – Cathay

Please check your Policy Pages regularly and make sure the information listed is up to date and correct. Also let your providers know about these policy pages - they may have good suggestions about things that should be listed in these pages and need to know about them for helping customers.

If you have problems coding URLs into live links, ask for help. If the url is you would need to code it as: <a href=""></a>. Where the part in red is the website url and the part in yellow is the text that would show up on the page.

More global hours needed!

In order to bring the 2010 budget down to where it needed to be, Julie promised additional global hours to QuestionPoint and the 24/7 Cooperative in order to bring the QuestionPoint contract down in price.

Julie will send out and email with specific details. Our preference is a slow Maryland Hour and a needed coop hour (as per the QP wiki) but any hours will be wonderful. John K., Susan P. and Kendra F. mentioned interest (John will take Monday, 12-1 beginning first week of January; Susan P. will take a Saturday hour beginning the first week of January; Kendra will also move one existing hour to global). (edited 12/16-CC)

The group broke for lunch at 11:50am.

Liaison Survey

After the September Liaison meeting, Beverly of Montgomery College surveyed the liaisons on how they staff and enforce AskUsNow! The summary of findings will be emailed out to the group.

How do you enforce staff coverage? How do you know your providers are online, covering when they are supposed to be covering? Some liaisons log on live to see if people are monitoring, others use transcripts to see if any questions were picked up (and therefore the person was monitoring) and others trust that their staff are online.

Marketing Initiatives for 2010

See the 2010 Marketing Initatives Plan for details and the presentation.

  • How do we harness the tools we have to engage people in a creative and fun way?
  • Internal marketing will be ramped up in 2010. Sometimes AUN is provided in a centralized place in one branch; the branches need to know and be reminded, again and again, too.
  • AACPL has circ people involved – they incorporate AUN into new staff training. The managers/supervisors seem to support it more, too.
  • All the library websites are doing well as far as having AUN there, but some need updating and correcting (no exclamation mark, incorrect branding). More places mentioned, more places patrons can see it, the less clicks it take for someone to get help. Julie will follow up with each system as needed. Amy S. would like a footer size logo for FCPL’s site.
  • Director’s cut – “you make a video for us” as a video contest (an idea from New Jersey’s QandANJ and Florida's Ask-A-Librarians services). “Tell us your story” is a kind of start of this. Prizes are tough…but we can be creative.
  • Other Ideas: Highlighters around the world – always reach AUN where-ever you are! Take a photo of yourself and your AskUsNow! highlighter on your summer vacation!
  • Our goals is to Tell Everyone! Julie will not be happy until we have too much business and have to authenticate users. :-)
  • The Fun Theory ( Will people do something like throw trash in the can or take the stairs if it is more fun? Would you use AUN if….? What would make it more fun?
  • How about using interns? Bringing this into the LIS grad schools, like with the UMCP?

Welcome to the Inner Harbor! replaces as our new staff support website  and we're very proud to unleash it. This is a draft –it is a site in progress. You can read about our progress.

We are going to be doing a usability testing and will continue working on the design but it is functional and ready to roll now. We invite you to use it and offer feedback.

The Partners Page is still available and will be for months (no end date) until we make sure we've moved or archived everything.

We need your feedback – informal is fine. Use the site starting now. Offer it to your providers. Liaisons will be sent their logins before the end of the year (next week). You will be able to upload content, make a blog, etc. Your logins will probably your first name and last initial. Question: Can a login be the same as the AUN ID? We'll see if we can do that.

Suggested: Add to schedule page - the Wiki links from QuestionPoint, AUN’s busy hours and holidays.

It's Guideline and Policy revision time!

John K, Theresa M, Beverly L, Shak D, and Julie S. volunteered to update the guidelines. Thank you!

The group will start work in the new year. Providers are and will be formally invited to participate in the guideline revision.

We brainstormed things that should be in the guidelines (a lot already are):

  • What are the duties of the liaisons?
  • Who can provide service?
  • Where can service be provided?
  • How does the schedule work? What happens to the last 15 mins on a Friday before closing?
  • How often should you provide to keep up your skills?
  • Customer service and reference interview standards
  • do we answer homework questions?
  • how much time should i take to answer this?
  • what do we do about disruptive behavior and problem customers?
  • crisis guidelines
  • follow-up procedures - both in chat and after chat
  • referring to local and non-local people
  • resolution codes. what do we do if there's no email?
  • if you've been waiting for 8 minutes without a response from the customer...

What's the difference between things that go into "guidelines" and things that are listed as "how to's" or "help"? guidelines are critera and basic assumptions.

Other Business

We regret that we forgot to add an agenda item during the meeting. On December 1st, Worcester County Public library wrapped up a successful year-long celebration of their 50th anniversary.

Maryland AskUsNow! provider Alice Paterra drove her Smart Car in the 2008 Berlin Holiday Parade to help kick off the library's Anniversary celebrations. Click on the image for a larger size.

Happy 50th Anniversary! Worcester County Library 1959 - 2009
Visit the Worcester County Library - Berlin Branch or login 24/7 @


Thank you to Cathay for taking the meeting minutes.

 The meeting adjourned at 2:40. 

In attendance

Julie Strange, AskUsNow!
Cathay Crosby, AskUsNow!
Bob Baldwin, Allegany College
Sue Tinanoff, BCPL
Margie Rhoden, Calvert CPL
Jeri Cain, Caroline County PL
Gregor Becker, Carroll County PL
Shak Dhanesar, CCBC
Suzanne Bell, Cecil County PL
Alison Sherwell, Charles County Public
Ann Wheeler, DNR
Amy Swackhamer, FCPL
Kendra Frost, HCPL
Jessica Ambrose, HCC
Beverly Lehrer, Montgomery College
Mimi Bolotin, MCPL
John Krivak, PGMLS
Norma Schmidt, Prince George's Community College
Susan Pluhar, SLRC
Amy Ford, St. Mary's CPL
Theresa Mastrodonato, UMES

Notified Absence

Liz Beere, Carroll Community College
Susan Bonsteel, Stevenson University
Mary Rice, Charles County Public Law Library
Cindy Todd, UMCP
Janice Beall, Allegany County PL
Janice Lathrop, Anne Arundel Community College
Elizabeth Hulett, Washington County

Listserv Round up since September 09


Throughout the month there were many messages on the list regarding the QuestionPoint technical issues that were later solved in October.

3 - As a follow-up to the Sept 1st Liaison meeting, Beverly Lehrer sent around an AUN staffing survey to all liaisons. Questions included:

  1. Does your library have a formal policy for staffing AskUsNow? If yes, what does it require?
  2. Are all librarians required to provide service? If yes, is this requirement included in their job description? If no, how are staff selected? What technical or public service skills do you feel are important?
  3. Do you staff AskUsNow from one location? Or from multiple branches? What factors influenced this decision?
  4. How many hours a week (on average) does each librarian provide chat reference service?

11 - We welcome back UMES to active AskUsNow! service! Librarians from UMES are Theresa Mastrodonato (liaison), Anne Driscoll, Ann Reed, and Joseph Bree.


8 - A QuestionPoint reporting glitch was reported regarding 9/28 daily report data. This data is quadrupled. Monthly data is correct.

9 - Julie continued to collect highlighter number requests from liaisons around the state.

21 - Silly Hat Day was created and observed around the state. See pictures on flickr.


18 - We wrapped up the first round of Crisis Training with success thanks to Jennifer Blunt and Jeri Cain of Caroline County. 

24 - AskUsNow! released a Thanksgiving resource list as a way to help librarian answer timely questions as well as a way to promote AUN with a little preemptive reference.

30 - After the passing of Victor D'Altorio, QuestionPoint scheduler, it was announced that Deborah Kaufman had taken over that role. Scheduling procedures remain the same.

June 2009 Liaison meeting

Where: Perryville Branch, Cecil County Library, Perryville, MD (off of I-95N)

When: 10:30 - 3pm, lunch break & library tour around noon

Directions are on their website or you can view the map.

Perryville is a new library so onsite parking is ample.

Please bring your lunch as there are not many options within walking distance from the building.


AskUsNow! Visioning

2009.06.02Agenda.pdf82.62 KB
2009.06.02Roundup.pdf51.09 KB
2009.06.02_stories.pdf169.4 KB
2009.06.02_Minutes.pdf167.09 KB
NYPL_PolicyPage.pdf697.77 KB

September 2009 Liaison Meeting

Date: Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Time: 10:30 - 3pm, lunch break & library tour around noon

Place: Finksburg Branch, Carroll County

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Finksburg Branch, Carroll County
2265 Old Westminster Pike, Finksburg, MD 21048


From 795: Take Route 140 west toward Westminster. Stay on Route 140 for approximately 5 miles. Make a left turn at Green Mill Rd then a right onto Old Westminster Pike the library will be .2 miles on your left.

Time: the meeting runs 10:30 - 3pm.
Please arrive between 10 and 10:30. We will break for lunch around noon and have a tour of the new library after lunch.

September 2009 Meeting Minutes

Thanks to Gregor and the Carroll County Public Library for hosting us in their beautiful 7 month old green Finksburg branch.

AskUsNow! Update

Customer Service Refresher Training

The Customer Service Training is a two hour training; the first hour focusing on the interpersonal + reference skills, the second hour focusing on the software tools available for creating paths for customers instead of walls (resources, follow‐up, etc). Both Julie and Cathay do this training. It is worth 2 CEU contact hours.

The trial run of the Customer Service training was @Pratt on 8/25 (Monday). We have another scheduled there for October 7th which will be archived for online access. Starting immediately you can schedule this face to face or online (via Wimba) training for staff. Contact Julie to schedule.

We’d like to have this be a f2f and virtual training but we’re unsure how to structure one activity for the virtual environment and Debbie Barlow brought up that Wimba has issues with Ubuntu. Betty added that it could be a bandwidth issue, and suggested to plan trainings in the mornings.

With a show of hands, most liaisons present were interested in scheduling the Customer Service training for their staff.

Crisis Refresher Training

This training is a result of the Crisis Guidelines made available last year. A completely online (via Wimba) training, Jennifer Blunt and Jeri Cain of Caroline County will discuss how to recognize and deal with a crisis situation and how to manage your reactions to stressful situations. Jeri will post availability of the training soon. This training runs 90 minutes to 2 hours long and is eligible for CEUs.

Staff Support Website

Our currently staff support site ( continues to be under development. You can see the progress at It will eventually live at We are using Drupal to develop it. The team consists of Julie, Cathay, Betty, Amy Ford (St. Mary’s), Jess Chaiken (NARIC), Tina Pickens (BCPL), Sarah Smith (BCPL), Jessica Nhem (Caroline County) and Cindy Bowen (NAL); they all have been working tremendously hard with this project.

We’re waiting for the “test” site to move over where it will finally live ( as well as for the front page design to be done and all of the content to be uploaded.

Other than the new CMS and design, the site will continue to offer the same information is always has to help liaisons and providers to their best. One major addition to the site is the “Community” area that will be a locked down area (password required to read and add content) that will be a safe space for the AskUsNow! community to share with each other.

Bob Baldwin asked if the website would replace the listserv. Julie said that while it may in the future, she’s going to let it happen organically instead of forcing people to adapt to a new site and a new way of doing things all at once.

Budget 2010

As of meeting day (9/1/2009) we enter into our 7th grant and remain funded through August 31, 2010. Our marketing line took the biggest hit for the coming year and we will have to get very creative this year, relying on our partner libraries to get the word out. Plans are in the works. Additionally, we received a reduction in our contract to QuestionPoint by promising to add an additional 5‐6 hours of global coverage in the January 2010 – December 2010 timeframe. Debbie and Kendra offered to potentially change their evening local hours to global. We will discuss this more at or before our December meeting.

For 2010 we have enough money to make our television commercial but it was recently found that television commercials are not an allowable expense for federal funds. We are looking into ways around this.

With the extra money left over from the FY09 grant, 27,500 additional highlighters were ordered.

Donations now accepted

As prompted by a couple of customers, AskUsNow! is now able to receive donations! All donations be made out to “BCPL – AskUsNow!” and sent to:

Baltimore County Public Library – Administration
320 York Road
Towson, MD 21204

Julie is hopeful that donations will come in and that she can add a “donate” button or “text2donate” feature to the website soon in the future.

Discussion: Limited Resource Allocation

With the limited number of marketing materials available for FY09 and FY10, Julie attempted a resource allocation formula that took into consideration previous amounts given as well as numbers given by the liaisons and county marketing people on how many highlighters and/or memo pads they would want in a year assuming they could have as many as they wanted. It soon became apparent a different calculation was needed.

The group discussed that for public libraries, a # based on % of county population was probably a good bet. Academic and special libraries will continue to estimate #’s based on # of BI classes, orientations, events, etc and get #’s to Julie soonest.

For future reference (when there is $ to be spent again) we will consider more age‐specific items like stickers or tattoos for children and other items for adults.


We broke for lunch at 12.
Darrell @Carroll County gave us a wonderful tour of the new green Finksburg Library.


Discussion: How are you staffing?

Beverly Lehrer introduced this topic on the listserv but since we were all in person we wanted to get a feel for where we all were on this. We wanted to know if the staffing of AskUsNow! at your institutions was an implied informal, formal, or other policy.

Stevenson ‐ seemed like in the beginning most people were not interested, so staff was chosen by those who wanted to

Pratt – all IS staff is trained and required to participate

BCPL – IS was the only department involved at first, but when AUN went Statewide, administration decided that two branches needed to participate (the least busiest ones). Problem with the model is that often when someone was trained, the staff person often moved to another branch location. The limitation is that the staff member cannot do this while at the desk, so time must be given to staff off the desk.

Carroll County PL: Limited to five staff in the whole system. CCPL just started texting last week, too, but those staff are not AUN providers.

Allegany College: They provide two days a week email reference and chose the least busy campus (Pennsylvania campus), and required it as part of the job.

Q: Who has it in job description? About a third raised their hands. It is required as part of their jobs.

AACPL: The library that has the most staff (and happens to be the busiest) covers this. It is up to the manager of the branches to determine which positions can participate. Two out of three do. They also have QP email (staff who don’t do chat). Works out well, Betty mentioned.

Q: Does anyone cover their shifts from home? Carroll County, Cathay, but it seems like no one else.

Howard County: It’s good that it is part of LATI, and they have at least one person at every location, and more at their busier locations. Although they’ve had people promoted or changes to staffing, it has worked out.

Q: Any children’s librarians? John has a couple and has noticed that these librarians are very good with the younger patrons online. There are a few systems who use children’s librarians.

Beverly will email the listserv to get more information.

Presentation + Discussion: Text Reference

In the recent months, people have been approaching Julie asking what AskUsNow! is doing with texting. Right now, nothing. Julie was conflicted over whether AskUsNow! should help facilitate the addition of texting within the individual partner libraries or if AskUsNow! should offer a collaborative text option. Check out the presentation (pdf) for more details. No decision was made but Julie will continue to figure things out with your help. Any ideas, comments, or questions are welcome.

Schedule Analysis

A long time coming, Julie passed around the schedule analysis, reporting happily that we’re on target with how many librarians we have staffing versus how many customers are coming in on average at any given moment. See Appendix A and B for additional information.

Comcast Issue

The question about Comcast, and the bounced emails came up. As of 8/22/09, Comcast has been blocking emails coming from QuestionPoint. This means that no customers with a email account has been getting transcripts or email follow‐up if it was done through QP. QP is aware of the problem but we do not know more. There was some discussion about how to work with QP and/or Comcast. One work around is that all customer communication can happen outside of QP as customers are still getting email, just not from QuestionPoint. Cathay will send the liaisons the bounced emails from their customers so they can be followed up with.


Thank you to Cathay for taking the notes.

In Attendance

Amy Ford – St. Mary’s Co.
Amy Swackhamer‐ Frederick Co.
Betty Morganstern, Anne Arundel Co.
Beverly Lehrer‐ Montgomery College
Bob Baldwin – Allegany College
Catherine McGuire – MD State Law Library
Cathay Crosby – AskUsNow!
Debbie Barlow‐ Howard Co.
Gregor Becker ‐ Carroll Co.
Janice Beall – Allegany Co.
Janice Lathrop – Anne Arundel CC
Jeri Cain‐ Caroline Co.
Jim Lynch – Baltimore City CC
John Krivak‐ Prince Georges Co.
Julie Strange ‐ AskUsNow!
Karen Quinn‐Wisniewski ‐ CCBC
Kendra Frost ‐ Harford Co.
Liz Beere ‐ Carroll Community College
Mallika Pichumani – Montgomery County PL
Margie Rhoden ‐ Calvert Co.
Sue Bonsteel- Stevenson University
Sue Tinanoff‐ Baltimore County Public Library
Susan Pluhar – Pratt/SLRC

Notified Absence

Alison Sherwell – Charles Co.
Ann Wheeler – DNR
Cindy Todd ‐ UMCP
Elizabeth Hulett – Washington Co.
Jessica Ambrose – Harford CC
Karen Neville, Worcester Co.
Mimi Bolotin – Montgomery Co.
Norma Schmidt, Prince George’s CC
Suzy Bell‐ Cecil Co.
Theresa Mastrodonato – UMES

Jess Chaiken – NARIC
Karl Schneider ‐ NAL
Mandy Hackley, Salisbury University
Mary Rice – Charles County Law Library
Mindy Mallette – Wicomico Co.
Rebecca Rienzi – Pathfinders for Autism
Terry Darr – Loyola Blakefield School
Tyson Fogel, MD LBPH

September 2008 Liaison Meeting

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
10:30am -3:00pm
Urbana Regional Library, Frederick County Public Libraries Frederick, MD

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
10:30am -3:00pm: Arrival between 10 and 10.30am. Meeting starts at 10.30. A break for lunch on your own is included, to start at about 12pm.

Urbana Regional Library Frederick County Public Libraries
9020 Amelung Street Frederick, MD 21704

Directions: see the agenda below

Parking: There is plenty of free parking in back of the Urbana Regional Library. Some parking is also available in front of the library along Amelung Street.


2008.09.16_Agenda.doc549.5 KB
2008.9.16_RoundupsinceJune.pdf135.6 KB
MeetingGroundRules.pdf202.62 KB
2008.09.16_Minutes.pdf181.65 KB
CrisisCallsGuidelines.doc314 bytes

December 2008 Liaison Meeting

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
10:30am - 3pm
Lexington Park Branch (Meeting Room B)
St. Mary's County Library Lexington Park, MD (southern Maryland)


2008.12.02_agenda.pdf242.89 KB
2008.12.02_roundup.pdf49.01 KB
2008.12.02_montco_qwidget.pdf12.97 KB
businessprocessimprovement.pdf28.45 KB
2008 12 02_AUNMeetingnotes.pdf41.79 KB

June 2008 Liaison Meeting

When: Tuesday, June 3, 2008
10:30 - 3:00 p.m. Arrival between 10:00 - 10:30. Meeting starts at 10:30. A break for lunch on your own is included, to start at about 12:00.

Where: Southeast Anchor Library Enoch Pratt Free Library
3601 Eastern Avenue Baltimore, MD 21224
Located in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore City
Phone: 410-396-1580

Directions: See the agenda below.

Parking: Metered lot on Fleet Street between Conkling St. and Eaton St.


Agenda_Jun_3_2008.pdf189.84 KB
RoundUpMDASKUSNOW_SinceMar4_2008.doc93.5 KB
2008.06.03_LiaisonMtgNotes.pdf176.75 KB

March 2008 Liaisons Meeting


When: Tuesday, March 4, 2008, 10:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Arrival between 10:00 - 10:30. Meeting starts at 10:30. A break for lunch on your own is included, to start at about 12:00.

Where: Maryland State Law Library
Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Bldg.
361 Rowe Blvd. Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: 410-260-1430

Directions: See the agenda below, and parking directions at:


Agenda_Mar_4_2008.doc108 KB
RoundUpMDASKUSNOW_SinceDec4_2008.doc94 KB
BasicLawReference_McGuire.pps322 KB
Liaison_Meeting_Notes_March_4_2008.doc103.5 KB

December 2007 Liaisons Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007
10:30am - 3pm

Germantown Branch, Montgomery County Public Libraries
19840 Century Boulevard Germantown, MD 20874
Phone: 240-777-0110


  1. Introductions and welcome [10 min.]
  2. Time for questions regarding Sept. 18 Liaison Meeting Notes
  3. Plans for the 5-year anniversary celebration on March 19, 2008 at AACPL West County [15 min.]
  4. Transcript review [30 min.]
  5. Clarification needed for AskUsNow! Policies & Guidelines: Where do we staff chat in the building? [15 min.]
  6. Volunteer policy recommendation from the ad-hoc committee [20 min.]
  7. Who should be on the MDASKUSNOW e-mail list and who can be? [10 min.]
  8. Clarification needed for AskUsNow! Policies & Guidelines: Follow-up policy [20 min.]
    • Limits for repeat customer with same question?
    • Role of AskUsNow! once referral has been made to an outside agency?
  9. Free time for questions and ideas [30 min.]
  10. Updates about QuestionPoint and other important updates since September [30 min.]

December 2007 Liaison Meeting Notes

1. Introductions

The group introduced themselves and decided to discuss if the new meeting time (10:30 - 3:00) works for everyone once everyone gets home.


2. Questions about September 18th’s Liaison Meeting

We don’t follow Roberts Rules of Order for our meetings, and while there is no need to be so formal, we want to make sure people get the chance to discuss anything from the previous meetings. Mary Somers pointed out that her affiliation should be noted in the attendance list as Harford Community College.  No other changes were offered and no discussions resulted.  September 18th’s minutes can be found on the AskUsNow! Partners Page.


3. Plans for the 5 year Anniversary Celebration

Joe went over the confirmed details from the minutes of the initial planning meeting of the 5 year Celebration Team. The team met November 8th at the Crofton Branch in Anne Arundel County. The minutes from this meeting can be found on the Partners Page.

The floor was opened to other ideas. Suzanne Carbone suggested that regional events may be better to promote local county council support. While the Celebration Planning Team is in charge of one main celebration, they are not opposed to the idea of regional celebrations.

Joanna Macaulay suggested that a kit be created for local celebrations- directions on how to and physical kit with materials needed (posters, etc).

Daria noted that we need to add Paula Isett on the Guest List task.

We discussed the AskUsNow! Poster that Julie had floated the idea for earlier. Clarifications were made that there would only be one poster, displayed only during the time of the event (2 hours). It was decided that Liaisons will go back to their current providers and get an “opt-in” response from these people regarding whatever name they wish to be recognized as on the poster (ie- real name, librarian screen name, first name, last initial, etc)

Julie will send out a reminder on the listserv to the liaisons to get this feedback from their providers and to respond to Julie before the holidays.


4. Transcript Review

While new staff training consists of transcript review, we don’t really have a set way of all getting together to look at transcripts. Using an idea taken from a fellow service, we thought the Liaisons meetings would be perfect for this.

Kendra Frost said she has started doing this with her own librarians and thinks it s a good idea to do it at this higher level so we can all learn and discuss.

At 11.35am, the group took 10 minutes to go over the transcripts that Julie had provided. For future meetings, the hope is that liaisons will bring session transcripts (stripped of identifying information) for the group to look at.  These may be personal transcripts, ones they ran into, or if one of their librarians would like feedback on a particular session.

The group looked at three sessions and discussed them. For the next meeting, the hope is to come up with a tip or reminder that can be shared with the whole service.


5. Clarification Needed for AskUsNow! Policies and Guidelines: Where do we staff chat?

Joe and Julie noticed that although it was agreed upon by the initial group of Project Liaisons in 2002, that nowhere in our Policies and Guidelines does it state where the chat service is to be provided.  At that time it was determined that the chat service would not be staffed at a public desk, but only off-desk.  Those in attendance at this meeting felt that this procedure was well understood, but also agreed that it would make sense to include this important guideline in our stated service policies.

Through discussion, the project liaisons offered these points relevant to the policy:

  1. AskUsNow! chat provision is the first priority of the person assigned to the shift.  The AskUsNow! chat provider may also work on e-mail/follow-up questions during the shift, however the chat service is their first priority.
  2. The machine used by the provider must meet the minimum criteria required by AskUsNow! and the vendor (QuestionPoint).
  3. AskUsNow! chat is not provided at the public service desk where the public asks questions face-to-face. These locations for chat service provision are acceptable:
    1. An office
    2. Telephone reference model
    3. At a public service deskif the library is not open to the public (before or after hours).
    4. At home or at another site outside of the library building (if the partner library’s policies allow for it).

The discussion points noted above will be shared by Joe on the MDASKUSNOW listserv to be approved for inclusion in our Policies and Guidelines.

During this discussion, the following other thoughts were also brought forward:

  • There was a recommendation that we look again at the chat service usage and see if we can tweak the schedule to match rates of usage more closely.  Joe noted that this is done incrementally when new libraries join or when libraries request changes to their individual schedules, but we haven’t done a thorough update to the schedule for at least 2 years.  He also expressed that usage continues to be strong during evenings and weekends when we could use more Maryland staff.  Julie is working on putting together documentation that shows the usage trends and will share this in a future message on the MDASKUSNOW listserv.
  • It was asked if/how we should clarify emergency situations in our guidelines.  The example shared regarded the situation of an irate customer at the in-person public service desk who needed the attention of a supervisor (who at that moment was providing AskUsNow! chat).  Joe noted that during training class he lets the new providers know that if they need to leave their computer for an emergency during a shift (for instance, for an emergency restroom break) that they should log off and log back on once they are back at their machine. This way other librarians won’t transfer calls to the librarian while they are not physically present.  It is hoped that these kinds of emergencies are rare.  Joe and Julie will look at our Guidelines/Policies and suggest if there is a location where this kind of explanation would be helpful, although Joe did note that he felt that the chat provider should have the flexibility to practice their own professional judgment when these situations arise.  As always, if a librarian misses a substantial portion of their shift they should notify Julie (who handles AskUsNow! scheduling).
  • One planned agenda topic at our March 2008 meeting is to set in motion the annual revision of our AskUsNow! Policies and Guidelines.

6. Volunteer Policy

On behalf of the Ad-Hoc committee (Debbie Barlow, Gregor Becker, Janice Lathrop, and Joe Thompson), Joe presented to the liaisons a draft policy that the ad-hoc committee had created. Feedback offered at today’s meeting will be incorporated by the ad hoc committee and presented again to the liaisons either at the next meeting or via the listserv.

Feedback regarding the policy as offered in draft form included:

  • How do we handle the situation of the volunteer being out sick? (within item #4)
  • Can the volunteer fill in on the normal schedule? (within item #4)
  • Need to note the requirements for being a provider of AskUsNow!  Some language should be the same as in the policy that is to be confirmed regarding where we staff chat. (within item #6)
  • Need an allowance for former AskUsNow! providers (such as retirees)  to act as volunteers.

Some other issues that were brought up include:

How do we deal with graduate students if we are to offer Field Study opportunities again in the future? Is AskUsNow! a training opportunity? Should we have the volunteer standards that are being developed apply across the board (which might deter field study participation). How is this different from training grad students on a f2f desk? Can there be a set up where this might work and with the customer understanding what’s going on (specifically, that the person helping them is not on staff and that service quality may be different)?

If there are minimum standards for volunteers for the provision of service should there be more clarified minimum standards for providers as well? If providers don’t meet these minimum standards should they be released?


7. Who Should Be on the AskUsNow Listserv?

It is the project liaison’s listserv.  All Liaisons are required to be on the e-mail list but the list is open to any staff from the partner institutions who want to be on it. Some administrators are on the list, as well as liaison back-ups and “captains” from each branch library where the service is offered.  This is fine.  Every provider from an institution may be added to the list if requested by the project liaison.  However, don’t assume that all of your providers are on the list unless you have arranged for it.

If you would like to be added to the list, if you’d like to change the email you’re subscribed under, or if you would like to add another staff member to the list, please let Julie know at


8. Clarification Needed for AskUsNow Policies and Guidelines: Follow-up Policy


a. Repeat Customers

The group discussed how to deal with customers or questions that are repeatedly in follow-up. It was decided that a policy shouldn’t be created to deal with it, but that individual liaisons should use their best professional judgment on a case by case basis just as you would a repeat customer on the phone or face to face.


If you’ve already followed-up with the question / customer once, and there are (for example) 3 more of the same question from the same person waiting, it may be appropriate to close out the duplicate questions. Don’t answer every one. Catherine McGuire brought up the point that it may be useful to look at the customer’s previous sessions / emails / answers. There may, in fact, be something we missed (i.e. an unaddressed request) the first few times. Or there may not be. Use your judgment.


b. What is the Role of AskUsNow! once a question has been referred to an outside agency.

There was a situation where a customer came to the service asking for obscure statistics from the 1920s.

In an effort to acquire the resources being sought be a customer on chat, a librarian contacted an out-of-state library by phone.  That library informed our AskUsNow! provider that the customer had already contacted them directly and had been provided all resources possible without the customer actually visiting the library.  At this point, AskUsNow! has no further responsibility to the customer.  The customer would need to work through the owning agency or use their own library’s interlibrary loan service to acquire the material.


Once AskUsNow! has referred a customer to an outside agency, we’ve done what we can. Joe gave the example of a customer asking how to renew their driver’s license.  We refer them to the MVA.  At this point the relationship is then between the MVA and the person who asked the question.  AskUsNow! has no further responsibility regarding the question.


9. Free Time for Questions

a. Julie proposed face to face site visits

“My job is to help you do your job better.” To that effect, Julie proposed a “listening tour” that would make her available for face to face meetings with liaisons and providers at a time, place, and arrangement that is most convenient and beneficial for you. This is an opportunity for liaisons and providers to ask questions - anything including troubleshooting, service mission, or higher virtual reference vision questions - Anything. The goal is to make sure the wonderful folks who are on the front lines feel connected to the project and comfortable with their part in it.


Julie will send a message to the list letting people know of this opportunity. If you would like to set up a meeting with Julie, please contact her directly: or 410-887-6124


b. Refresher Training

Refresher training WILL happen Spring of 2008. Marcia Dysart, Sue Bonsteel, and Kendra Frost volunteered to get together via phone call with Joe to discuss what should be dealt with at refresher training.


c. Catherine McGuire gave kudos to Marcia Dysart for the article in the city paper

You can read the article here:


d. Things are in follow-up that can’t be followed up on

Suzanne Carbone brought up that there are a lot of things in follow-up that can’t be followed up on because there is no customer email. Why are these things in there and what can be done about this?

Julie mentioned that sometimes things end up in follow-up because the chatting librarian wants the local library to be aware of something - maybe a problem customer or a question trend. In these cases we recommend that the librarian use the “librarian only note” feature.  These FYI-type of referrals may not need to be followed-up on. Most of the questions that end up in shared follow-up without an email and not for FYI reasons are coming from outside Maryland.  If an e-mail address was provided by the customer during the transaction the “change e-mail” process should be used.

Julie has already notified Susan McGlamery at QuestionPoint about this topic and is waiting to hear back. The message to Susan:


Date: Wed 12/5/2007, 12:11pm

Subject: Sending Questions to Follow-up with No Email

Hi Susan!

Yesterday, at our local supervisors meeting, it was brought up that we see a lot of sessions in follow-up that can not be followed up on because there is no email address. Most of these cases are with non-MD chatting librarians.

I'd like to suggest a Quality Tip or a message to the QP-L list (which I'm happy to do) regarding sending things to follow-up. We understand that there may be a case where you want the local library to be aware of the session, so it is sent to follow-up (though none is needed) as an FYI- in those cases, we'd like to see greater use of Librarian notes so we're aware of why something got sent where it did.

Most of the time, however, we can’t see a reason for an FYI referral, but there is no way to follow-up with the customer as there is no email.

Thank you!


Joe also noted (when an e-mail address has been provided by the customer) that he strongly favors giving our local supervisors the opportunity to decide whether follow-up is needed for a particular session or not.  If the chatting librarian is unsure whether a transcript should be sent to follow-up, he would rather see the chatting librarian err on the side of making the referral than to have the customer not receive the information that they needed.  If the local supervisor (our project liaison) feels that no follow-up is needed to a question that came from their customer, that’s fine.  It can be closed.


e. Villa Julie is getting a lot of customers that aren’t Villa Julie customers.

Sue Bonsteel mentioned that Villa Julie gets a lot of customers coming in from their queue but that aren’t actually VJ customers. There have been cases where a question will be referred out of Shared Follow-up to VJ and then back to Shared Follow-up because it isn’t a VJ customer.

It was discussed that librarian notes will be used to alert folks as to why things are being referred where they are. Those doing follow-up (especially shared follow-up) should be cognizant of looking for librarian notes that may help them figure out a session.

Julie will verify if there is somewhere the VJ virtual category link is linked somewhere it shouldn’t be and will look at the referring URLs for VJ sessions to see if they can prevent this problem in the first place.


f. Busiest times on the service?

Suzanne Carbone brought up that she would like to see a breakdown of our busiest times in order to advise the scheduling and make sure we’ve got people on when we need them. Others agreed. Julie had already started to do this to figure out how and when to add more global hours to the schedule (based on pressure from the 24/7 cooperative to do so as part of our contract) and will share this information to the group.


10. Updates about QuestionPoint and other important items since September

Joe took some time to review the Round-Up of listserv messages since September.


If anyone needs to see any of the original messages as posted on the listserv, they should contact Joe or Julie directly.


In attendance:

Betty Morganstern - Anne Arundel Co
BeverlyLehrer- Montgomery Co. College
Catherine McGuire – MD State Law Library
Daria Parry- DLDS
Derek Buker- Frederick Co.
Elizabeth Hulett - Washington Co.
Gregor Becker - Carroll Co.
Janice Beall – Allegany Co.
Janice Lathrop – AACC
Joan Stahl - UMCP
Joanna Macaulay - St. Mary’s Co.
Joe Thompson - Maryland AskUsNow!
John Krivak- Prince Georges Co.
Julie Strange - Maryland AskUsNow!
Kendra Frost - Harford Co.
Liz Beere - Carroll Community College
Marcia Dysart – Pratt / SLRC
Margie Rhoden - Calvert Co.
Mary Somers – Harford Community College
Roxane Gnau- Baltimore Co.
SueBonsteel- Villa Julie College
Suzanne Carbone- Montgomery Co.

Notified Absences:

Alison Sherwell – Charles Co.
Debbie Barlow – Howard Co.
Jeri Cain – Caroline Co.
Terry Darr – Loyola Blakefield
Norma Schmidt – Prince Georges CC

Listserv Round up since September 2007

Usage Statistics

  • July, August, September, October and November 2007 have all been the busiest of these months on record!  This applies both to chat questions submitted to the service and for combined chat/e-mail statistics. 

Grant Updates

  • FY 2008 Grant Award Received:  Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) has received the Notice of Grant Award from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), Division of Library Development and Services (DLDS).  This new award of $211,514 funds Maryland AskUsNow! from September 2007 - August 2008.  MSDE’s revenue source is Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds provided through the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  This is the sixth grant award funding Maryland AskUsNow!
  • Final Report for FY 2007:  The final report for the grant that funded AskUsNow! from September 2006 - August 2007 was submitted on November 30 to MSDE/DLDS by Project Coordinator Joe Thompson.
  • Anecdotes/Stories:  Many thanks to those of you who provided stories to include in the final report grant narrative.  All that were received were included.  At any point, please write to Joe if you have an AskUsNow! story that might be a great addition to the FY2008 grant final report next year.


  • New Staff Training Series:  Three full-day classes are currently scheduled (all with open seats):
    • Thursday, Dec. 6 at West County, AACPL
    • Thursday, Dec. 13 at McKeldin Library, UMCP
    • Friday, Dec. 14 at Blackwell Library, Salisbury University (contact Julie at

To register staff to attend on Dec. 6 or 13, please contact Joe at:

New sessions will be scheduled as needed.  Project Liaisons are invited to attend any New Staff Training session.

  • Recruitment Training Series for Non-Partner Libraries:  A description has been submitted to the Division of Library Development and Services (DLDS) for approval. These classes will offer a cursory review of the technology and best practices that we apply to provide Maryland AskUsNow!  The intent is to energize interest in participation at libraries that currently are not partners.  We hope to have the date/location arrangements made by the end of 2007, with the classes to occur in January - March 2007.

    We will be actively recruiting new partner libraries in the winter and spring of 2008.  If you know a colleague at a Maryland library who may want to know more about Maryland AskUsNow!, please ask them to take a look at

  • Refresher Training Series:These half-day sessions will provide both a review of the existing service and cover new material.  They are being scheduled to occur in March - June 2008.  Please contact Joe if you would like to provide input regarding the topics that will be covered.

    Please contact Joe or Julie if you would be interested in having a review session arranged with the providers at your library before the next Refresher Training Series begins.

  • Math for librarians:  Would there be interest from our providers in attending a short (60 minute?) online training session on “Math for librarians” if offered?  A librarian at the Business, Science, and Technology Department of SLRC has developed this program and agreed to offer this session online to AskUsNow! providers if there is interest.  Merlin’s access to WebJunction Live Space would likely be used if arrangements are made.
  • Shared training calendar for Maryland libraries:  Is everyone aware of the Maryland libraries shared training calendar?  See and find training opportunities in your area.

Revision of

  • As first discussed at the June 5th Project Liaison Meeting, work on a redesign of the main page us underway.  This will include an updated page appearance and new navigation.  The goal is to have a mock-up of the page ready for review by the Project Liaisons by Dec. 31.  A 5-year anniversary logo is also planned to be integrated into the new page around the time of the March 2008 celebration.
  • There are no plans to create virtual categories for non-partner Maryland libraries at this time.  If a realistic method for maintaining “unsupervised” QuestionPoint accounts of this type can be developed in the future, then the idea may be reconsidered.  The links to non-partner libraries on the menus of the page will continue to link to the generic academic or generic public queue.

[Only those listserv messages with ongoing significance are included here]

Sep. 20: On the right side of your My QuestionPoint screen, you will now see a link to “Cooperative Resources.”  Of note within these resources is access to the database known as CREDO Library (formerly Xreferplus), a searchable collection of topical encyclopedias.  Also included within the Databases is the Ready Reference for Virtual Librarians wiki.  These are the primary resources relied upon by QuestionPoint backup librarians.


Sep. 22: Reminder to always cite your source and provide the answer (if a specific answer is possible) to satisfy the question.


Sep. 24: Verify that the e-mail service on campus or at your library system is not blocking messages from, nor coding these as spam.  This is the address where AskUsNow! transcripts and follow-up replies originate.  We want to make sure that our customers are receiving these messages!


Sep. 30:  Highlighter keychain order shipped.  Please let Joe know if you didn’t receive the amount indicated in the message.  A reserve supply of highlighters is available from Julie.  There are 100 highlighters per bag.


Oct. 4: Please be careful, especially when referring a question in follow-up, to not refer a question to the incorrect partner library.  We have some partners with similar-appearing names, especially where there is both a community college and a county public library system.


Oct. 4:  Liaison Meeting notes from the Sept. 18 meetingare now available on the Meetings page of the Partners site


Oct. 5:  If you experienceJumping Flash Chat, try refreshing your Flash Chat by using the F5 key.  Other suggestions were offered if refreshing doesn’t work.


Oct. 5: QuestionPoint now supports Java version 6.


Oct. 10:  Susan McGlamery of QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference is now posting a Tuesday Tip each week on the QuestionPoint blog that is geared to help the cooperative’s librarians.  The QP blog can be found at


Oct. 14:  Please let Joe know at if you will not be able to attend an AskUsNow! Liaison Meeting and no one from your library is able to attend in your place.


Oct. 15:  A recording of the Oct. 22 QuestionPoint webinar on reports is available at  (However, you are always welcome to contact Julie or Joe if you have questions about QuestionPoint reports).


Oct. 15: Recommendations for using the AskUsNow! Posters, Door signs, and School flyers were shared.


Oct. 17:  QP Quality Tip: Don’t forget to use the Policy Page when helping a customer from another library.


Oct. 17:  Make sure to log off properly at the end of your chat shift, otherwise the system will continue to register you as available.  End any active chat sessions, then select "Logout" at the top right hand corner of the Flash Chat window.


Oct. 18:  If you represent an academic library, please let Julie know when your library will be closed for winter break and spring break.  Your library will not be held accountable for these hours that occur while your library is on break, however Julie will need to verify that we have enough staff scheduled to meet expected demand.


Oct. 21:  Please be careful not to misdirect followup questions to the incorrect partner library.  Also, remember that in most cases the customer who is waiting the longest in the queue is the first who should be picked up.  First come, first served.


Oct. 22:QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference is requiring that we increase our scheduled“Global” contribution on the 24/7 Reference Cooperative queues up to 50 hours per week.  Please contact Julie if you have an hour normally scheduled for Maryland that you feel could be made a Global hour instead.  This increase in Global hours would put us in line with what other states of similar population are offering.


Oct. 25:  QP Quality Tip:  Always use a Resolution Code at the end of a chat session.


Oct. 29:  Information about QuestionPoint’s “Chat2” and the new link from the page (New: Access AskUsNow! Try our Next Generation Chat!) was shared.  The includes information about how your library can provide customer access to Chat2 from your web site.


Oct. 29:  QuestionPoint is developing something they are calling (for now) the “Qwidget.”  This will give customers the opportunity to connect to a librarian in a similar fashion to the way that they would use a Meebo widget.  The new tool is expected to be available in a January or February 2008 install.


Nov. 4:  Two upcoming online QuestionPoint training opportunities will be offered (Dec. 11 and Dec. 12).  See


Nov. 5:  Directions on how to address a chat session quality issue were offered.


Nov. 7:  Please contact Julie anytime your providers receive inappropriate chat sessions or experience problems such as “class bombs,” when a whole class enters the service at once.  Often we can contact schools to address problems of these kinds if we are made aware of it.


Nov. 15:  QuestionPoint has updated their procedures for deterring spam that originates from question submission forms.  See


Nov. 15AskUsNow! schedule has been updated: Please contact Julie to make changes if needed.


Nov. 17:  Does your county government web site have a link to AskUsNow!?  If so, please let Joe know so that this can be mentioned in next year’s final grant report.  Ideas on how to have a link to AskUsNow! placed on the county government web site were also suggested.


Nov. 17:  The QuestionPoint webinar on how to promote your virtual reference serviceis available as a recording on the QuestionPoint blog:


Nov. 17:  Please encourage your Maryland AskUsNow! providers to apply for the Maryland Library Leadership Institute.  AskUsNow! providers have been well represented in the 2005 and 2007 institutes.  See  Application materials are due by Feb. 15.


Nov. 19:Information relating to the Nov. 13 C.L.I.C.K.S. training in Easton is available on the Maryland AskUsNow! staff blog at  This training addressed methods for keeping children and teens safer while using the Internet.


Nov. 21:  QP Quality Tips:  Recommendations on how to tackle tough questions were shared.  The second tip was a reminder to use the menu available at the top of a library’s Policy Page.  This menu allows you to navigate to another partner library’s Policy Page.


Nov. 28:  Upcoming online programs through OPAL from now through spring 2008 will offer “casual conversations” with some of the leading innovators in library service.  See  Participation in these programs is free.


Nov. 29:  Recommendations on how to handle customer requests for “primary resources” were shared.  “Primary resources” may not need to take the form of old print documents in an archive.  There are actually a lot of resources that an online chat librarian can offer.


Nov. 29:  QP Quality Tip:  Ideas regarding the Reference Interview (or "Question Clarification" or the "Question Conversation") were shared.

June 2007 Liaison Meeting

Where and When

Tuesday, June 5, 2007
12:30-4:00 p.m.

Jarrettsville Library, Harford County Public Library
3722 Norrisville Road Jarrettsville, MD 21084
Phone: 410-692-7887

[New building, opened May 2006.]


  1. Introductions
  2. Visit by Susan McGlamery of QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference
  3. Computers in Libraries Conference reports and upcoming events at ALA Annual (Julie…)
  4. Who attends New Staff training (Joe)
  5. Refresher Training:  Now planned for late summer/fall (Joe)
  6. QuestionPoint chat accessibility update / Clarification of AskUsNow! Phase 2 status (Joe)
  7. : Proposal to develop the page and recruit new partners (Julie/Joe)
  8. Clarification of Shared Followup process (Julie/Joe)
  9. Review of March meeting notes and Roundup of other updates

Items for discussion

June 2007 Liaison Meeting Notes

1. Introductions

This liaison meeting was a little different as liaisons could bring other providers if they wanted (and are welcome to normally, as well). The group sang Happy Birthday to Gregor as June 5th was his birthday and his wife had dropped off a lovely carrot cake in his honor. Happy Birthday Gregor!


2. Susan McGlamery from the 24/7 Reference Cooperative

The 24/7 Reference Cooperative started in 2000 with 3 libraries in California- Santa Monica, Buena Park, Los Angeles Public. Maryland was the first statewide service who joined. There are over 1200 libraries in the coop today. There were 35,000 questions (chat sessions requested?) last year.  In 2004, Maryland accounted for 1/4th of the entire cooperative’s business.

  • 92 public libraries from England and UK are joining the cooperative Winter 2008.
  • 12,000+ librarian QuestionPoint log ins currently providing in 26 different languages.
  • “Chat 2” is designed to be accessible through screen readers as well as hand held devices.
  • “Report Simplification Project” is in place to make reporting better.
  • Also working on access to the library network (Global Reference Network) through Profiling not only institutions but also individual librarians who can opt-in to answer questions.

Closing Questions

  • Don’t reject questions to clear your queue as it “reactivates” questions for customer libraries.
  • Close your own customer’s questions under whatever time frame you want.
  • If you have questions active from other libraries (cooperatively), let Susan McGlamery or Wren Spangler know that that library needs to close their questions.

Question List Icons:

  • Envelope with green arrow up = your customers
  • Envelope with orange / red arrow up = another institution’s customer

Please send things to Quality Control that you feel need attention. They keep track by institution and individual so records can be made. Sending Non Maryland librarian sessions to quality control:

  • From within Ask Reports: click the “send to quality control” button
  • From the Active Question Lists: “Refer to” > “Subject Matter Expert” > “Quality Control”

Messages sent via the “Send Message to Librarian” button will probably not make it to the librarian since (Susan will double check) as a session will only show up in 2 places at once. Shared Follow-up (which Maryland has) counts as one place.

Things end up in “Pending” when you’ve “referred it” to another library AND when you use “request clarification” versus “send answer.”



  • QP still has an on-going contract with eGain (the original co-browse / chatting software of 24/7) to keep tweaking it to make it work. eGain contract runs out September 2007.
  • EBSCO doesn’t work with co-browsing.
  • Susan has made a note of issues with co-browsing. (i.e. simpler interface, more intuitive language)

Integrated IM

  • Taking IM out of Flash Chat and into My QuestionPoint (or otherwise chaning the set up of librarian to librarian IM is a “Definite project” for QuestionPoint. The hope is that this change will help clarify how to proceed on the customer to librarian IM interface which is currently in “Investigatory Discovery Process.”

Chat 2 is more IM-like in that it is lighter, frameless, and supposedly faster because it is lighter.

“Deferred Merger Requirements” – the huge list of 500 things that were in the old software that aren’t in the current software. (“Previous session” in old software let you know what other sessions that email / name / ip had previously that day).

The Chat Monitoring Tool is available to everyone from the My QuestionPoint page near the “Launch Chat” link. The “chat sessions in progress” (at bottom of page) allows you to see a snapshot of what sessions are currently going on at that moment complete with question and what librarian is chatting.

Susan McGlamery welcomes email at


3. Computers in Libraries update

Please see the document of Julie’s CIL notes:


Other things of interest that came out of CIL:

Maryland 23 Things is Maryland’s version of the Charlotte / Mecklenburg 23 Things project to get staff up to speed with Web 2.0.-:


4. Who Attends New Staff Training

We encourage providers and liaisons to attend new staff training even if they aren’t new staff. Mornings focus on software, afternoons focus on chatting and interpersonal communication and follow-up.


Everyone who is going to e providing the service needs to attend full staff training. Exceptions have been made to accommodate people who haven’t been able to attend new staff trainings (like night owl staffers who have full time day jobs and can’t take off) but these are very rare.


For those who aren’t “new” but who haven’t provided in a while can (and should) attend new staff training.


5. Refresher Trainings

The Refresher Training Series has been moved for the Fall. Those interested in helping to develop topics for these refreshers are to contact Joe at


6 a. QuestionPoint Chat Accessibility Update

Maryland AskUsNow! is still partners with InfoEyes and have been working with / putting pressure on QuestionPoint to get an accessible patron chat screen for years.


Jeff Penka shared some slides with the InfoEyes group last week. Find his slides at:


As of the install this past Sunday, the “Chat 2” interface is ready to try out and use. Joe and Julie will test it out in the next week or so and let people know what they think.


“Chat 2” offers user preferences including font face, size, and color preferences and sound preferences. Prefs can be saved per session but not per customer.


Also, there are no longer two similar “exit” and “send” buttons next to each other. This will help in lessening the confusion and oops-factor for customers.


As well as being accessible for screen readers, “Chat 2” is optimized for use on handheld devices such as cell phones and PDAs.


b. Status of Phase II Planning (VoIP)        

Originally, Phase II Planning committee was looking into VoIP as an option for those customers using screen readers. As it turns out, VoIP isn’t always the best option and as of last Sunday, QP has an accessable customer chat interface.


As it currently stands, we might be halfway through the planning process for Phase II. . How would it be branded (AskUsNow! + Voice!), how it would be marketed, linked, and trained… etc…


Has accessibility been taken off as a motivator since Chat 2 was developed?

John Krivak- still a good idea to do this.

Kendra Frost- even with good connections there were a lot of problems with hearing each other and at different rates, etc.

Debbie Barlow- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Who’s doing this? What do they use?

Bob Baldwin- bandwidth issues in academic environments.

Joan Stahl- is the technology a good fit with the service we’re trying to provide? In what venues is it being used? Are there company held desks doing VoIP? Is customer service rejecting it as a solution?

Suzie Bell- her daughter says they’d call the person they want to talk to and wouldn’t use VoIP.


Official Status of Phase II has been put on temporary hold. The website will be maintained and no progress to date will be lost.


7. Proposal to develop the page and recruit new partners

Our numbers are dropping. Joe and Julie theorize it is because since January, customers have had 4-5 things to do before getting to even ask their question in the question form. While the usage drop may be accounted to numbers being more accurately counted now (versus the old 24/7 system), the amount of new members adding per year, as well as the standard novelty drop, we’d like to make these changes to see how it effects usage. (We think it will effect it positively).


Element 1: List all Maryland libraries / systems in the drop down menus of

Approved with Changes

  • Add “may” or “often to “Selecting your Maryland library helps us to identify policies and databases available to you.”
  • Take away the “not sure” button and add back the “other” link to the general queues at the bottom of each list
  • Instead of “click to choose,” drop down menus will read “enter here”


Element 2: Libraries to link directly into their virtual category

Approved. Please get this done within 2 weeks.

  • Each library’s virtual category can now be found in the Contact section of the Partners Page
  • AskUsNow! should be linked off of sub pages (thanks John!), not just the library home page. Do you have a teen page? A Children’s page? Does it have an AskUsNow! logo / link?


Element 3: page redesign


  • All liaisons will have the opportunity to see and critique the final redesign before it goes live. This approval is for the go-ahead on the redesign, not the redesign itself as it isn’t done.


Element 4: New virtual categories for those current non-partner libraries

No approval decision made, but there was interest in pursuing the possibilities and issues.

  • What is the incentive for sub members to become full members is their students are getting help without them giving anything?
  • Can email follow-up go directly into their existing email reference account?


Agenda Topics skipped due to time:

8. Clarification of Shared Follow-up

9. Review of March Meeting Notes and Roundup of Other Updates


Please contact Julie ( with any questions, concerns, or ideas.


In attendance:

Amy Kraft – Harford County
Betty Morganstern - Anne Arundel Co.
Beverly Lehrer - Montgomery College
Bob Baldwin - Allegany Co.
Derek Buker - Frederick County
Debbie Barlow – Howard County
Deborah Margolis - Enoch Pratt
Edie White – Harford County
Erin Kelly – Enoch Pratt
Gregor Becker - Carroll Co.
Irene Greene – Harford County
Janice Beall - Allegany County
Janice Lathrop - AACC
Jim Lynch - BCCC
Joan Stahl - University of MD
Joanna Macaulay - St. Mary’s Co.
Joe Thompson - Maryland AskUsNow!
John Krivak - Prince George’s Co.
Julie Strange - Maryland AskUsNow!
Kendra Frost - Harford Co.
Liz Beere - Carroll Community College
Margie Rhoden - Calvert Co.
Mary Somers – Harford County
Nancy Smith- Harford County
Sandy Phillips- Carroll County
Sandy Marinaro – Villa Julie College
Sue Tinanoff - Baltimore Co
Suzanne Bell - Cecil County

Listserv Round up since March 2007


  • There are currently no New Staff Training classes scheduled.  Please contact Joe at if you expect to have staff at your library in need of training before the end of the summer.
  • The scheduling for this year’s Maryland AskUsNow! “Refresher Training” series (for staff already providing the service) has been backed up to late summer/fall.  These classes will likely run 3-4 hours each.  Staff would have the option to attend any one.  We will be working on the content in the coming months.  We are unlikely to include every one of these topics, but so far the following areas have been recommended for inclusion by the AskUsNow! Liaisons:
    1. Overview of QP Flash Chat
    2. Cobrowsing
    3. IMing
    4. Transfers
    5. Troubleshooting tips- set up, how to fix a jumping screen, etc.
    6. Follow-up Procedures
    7. Schedules for following up by specific libraries
    8. Voice Over IP (VOIP)
    9. How much is enough when answering, when to refer, when to follow up?
    10. How do we handle not being able to get into databases?
    11. What databases are available to us?
    12. Reference Behaviors
    13. Business reference training
    14. Reference Interview / Query Clarification
    15. Evaluating Websites
    16. Difficult questions (such as math, science, business, etc.)
    17. Non-verbal communication via computer mediated communication (CMC)
    18. Chatting with children and teens (Deborah Margolis has already presented at EPFL on this subject and offered to share her notes and resources)

Marketing and Publicity Updates

  • The same radio spot that aired in January again aired the week of April 22 in Central Maryland on station MIX 106.5.
  • In planning: A radio spot to be developed in-house.  We will be looking at having this air in the Hagerstown and Salisbury markets around the time classes return in the fall.
  • Ideas being currently considered for development:  Generic AskUsNow! business cards for staff; Posters; Notebook/binder dividers; Sodoku note pads.
  • The Division of Library Development and Services (DLDS) is producing Maryland AskUsNow! carry-bags that will be distributed at many conferences and events in the coming year.
  • A small supply of orange highlighter keychains is still available from Julie ( / 410-887-6124).  Bookmarks are also available if you have used up your own local supply.
  • Remember the idea of producing a limited number of AskUsNow! t-shirts for staff?  We’re still getting pricing quotes from time to time, so this may still happen!

Events of Interest at the ALA Annual 2007 Conference in Washington, D.C.

  • Saturday, June 23, 1:30-3:30, Panel Discussion: Best Practices in Virtual Reference (OCLC sponsored event) at Renaissance Mayflower, Chinese Room
  • Saturday, June 23, 4:00-5:30, RUSA MARS Virtual Reference Discussion Group
  • Monday, June 25, 10:30-12:30, See It, Hear It, Touch It: How do learning and communication styles affect virtual reference services? (Speaker/panelists: Eileen Abels, Marie Radford, Lynn Westbrook; Facilitator: Joe Thompson) at Hyatt, Constitution Room
  • Monday, June 25, 3:30-5:00, QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference User Group Meeting at Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, Room LJ119

[Only those listserv messages with ongoing significance are included here]


Mar. 8: Samples of all the February positive survey comments we receive.


Mar. 12: A new press release became available to promote the 4-year anniversary of Maryland AskUsNow! on March 17, 2007. 


Mar. 14: Clarification of Resolution Codes

Mar. 15: Search Engines.Article covering alternatives to Google was shared:


Mar. 20: Effort to increase Global contribution to the 24/7 Reference Cooperative:  If there is an hour on the schedule you are already providing for Maryland that you think you could potentially provide weekly as “Global” on the 24/7 Reference (Academic or Public) Queue, please contact Julie.  She will confirm whether or not the hour you offer works in our favor to make official or not.


Mar. 23: Don’t use “Descriptive Codes” at the end of chat sessions.


Mar. 27:  Spanish language scripts added to statewide Shared Scripts.


Mar. 27:  Meeting Notes resulting from the March 16 and20 Supplemental Telephone Liaison Meetings are available


Mar. 29:  Changes expected in April 1 QuestionPoint install.


Apr. 2: Samples of all the March positive survey comments we receive


Apr. 4: A new statewide Shared Script has been added to address the situation of the librarian’s shift ending soon.


Apr. 9: Revised AskUsNow! Policy and Service Guidelines available


Apr. 9: Where is the link on your library’s web site to Maryland AskUsNow!?  Using the official branded logo, on the home page, above the fold is the ideal.


Apr. 13: More explanation from QuestionPoint on Resolution Codes (use them at the end of chat) and Descriptive Codes (don’t use them at the end of chat).


Apr. 24:  The Maryland AskUsNow! page on MySpace can be found at:


Apr. 30:  When making a Transfer in chat, make sure the receiving librarian has replied and accepted it before you complete the transfer.


May 6:  AskUsNow! providers and supervisors may be interested in attending the Collaborative Virtual Reference Symposium in Denver this summer as a staff development opportunity:


May 11, May 21, May 24:  Clarification about the Shared Followup process.


May 16:  Handouts from the Maryland AskUsNow! Providers Meeting at the MLA Conferenceare available


May 18New online dictionary of note:


May 25: Reminder to Liaisons to change the status of your library’s customer’s questions in the Question Lists to “Closed” once reviewed (preferably within 2 weeks).


May 25:  Results of the spring AskUsNow! Providers Surveyare available


May 29:  Schedule revised


May 31:  Summer scheduling:  Contact Julie instead of the listserv if you would have looked for substitute coverage from another AskUsNow! partner library.  Due to lower usage in the summer, she may give approval to have it not covered.  (Global hours must always be covered however!)


May 31: Features of the latest QuestionPoint install can be found at:

September 2007 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007
12:30 - 4pm

Caroline County Public Library, Central Library in Denton
100 Market Street, Denton, MD 21629



  1. Introductions and welcome to visitors Cathay Crosby (of the Internet Public Library) and Beth Cackowski (of [25 min.]
  2. Proposal to change time of future AskUsNow! Liaison Meetings [10 min.]
  3. Marketing update & planning for 5-year anniversary on/around 3/17/2008 [10 min.]
  4. Maryland AskUsNow! Staff Blog and new Flickr photo page [5 min.]
  5. Confirmation of Shared Followup process & Review changing an e-mail [20 min.]
  6. The listserv: When to reply to all or only to the sender [5 min.]
  7. Seeking approval for one small policy/welcome screen change [5 min.]
  8. How’s it going? (open discussion!) [30 min.]
  9. Handling requests to volunteer as an AskUsNow! provider [10 min.] 
  10. ALA Annual and Collaborative VR Symposium reports [15 min.]
  11. revisions [25 min.]
2007_promotion_kto12.pdf311.78 KB

September 2007 Liaison Meeting Notes

1. Introductions & Guest Welcome

This liaison meeting we were pleased to have with us Beth Cackowski, the Project Coordinator of QandANJ, and our own Cathay Crosby, Assistant Director of User Services for the Internet Public Library (formerly with Cecil County Public Library).

Cathay showed us a run down of the back-end of IPL, which uses QRC, just as AskUsNow! had in the beginning to do email follow-up. Cathay mentioned the IPL just received an IMLS grant to help improve the educational aspect of the IPL.

The IPL’s users include the world-wide public, public librarians, faculty, and researchers. They receive about 50-75 questions a day. Cathay showed us the “practice” realm of QRC where their students can get their feet wet before answering “real” questions. Since MLIS students and other volunteers staff IPL, they’ve recently begun a program where students can get internship credits for work with IPL through Drexel.

They are continually struggling with how you translate the physical library to an online library in terms of resources, services, etc. They are self sustaining by charging their member institutions a yearly participation fee.

Next, Beth Cackowski, Project Coordinator of QandANJ showed us their fantastic MTV commercial (found here: and spoke a little about their barcode and geolocation authentication.

When they first started, they noticed that a lot of their customers were finding their service online, but weren’t actually New Jersey residents so they introduced library barcode authentication where a customer would have to enter their NJ library barcode before being able to enter the service. Now, if you are coming to their site from a NJ-recognized IP address, you will be automatically authenticated into the service. If you are not automatically recognized, you will have the opportunity to enter your NJ library barcode to get access to the service.


2. Proposal to Change Time of Future AskUsNow! Liaison Meetings

Joe and Julie proposed a time change for future Liaison meetings; noting that we not only wanted to shift traveling time so everyone wouldn’t be caught in so much traffic, but also to give more time to cover important topics and time to create community and network with their fellow liaisons over lunch.

It was suggested that we try the next meeting to start at 10:30am and wrap up at 3pm, giving everyone about an hour for lunch. Some people will be coming a long way no matter where the meetings are held, so this time change was approved for a trial for the next (December) meeting. We will revisit the topic then.


3. Marketing Update and Planning for 5-year Anniversary

Joe and Julie gave each liaison an AskUsNow! bag filled with our new posters (6 per library branch), a “we’re always open online” door sign” (1 per branch), and a flier geared towards teachers that tells them about the service.

Ideas were floated on where these posters could be used. Aside from in the libraries, “anywhere there’s WiFi” and “the chamber of commerce” were suggested as places to put the posters. Wherever you put them, get them out there- in and out of the library walls- and ask for more if you need them.

A new radio spot developed by the Library Video Network (folks at BCPL) (listen to it here: is airing on WWEG “The Eagle” from Hagerstown from September to November. We also plan to contract with a station in the Salisbury area in the coming months. The radio spot is available to download, listen, and share with your local radio stations. We also have the spot on CD. Contact Julie if you would like a copy.

On Saturday, September 15th, twenty-six AskUsNow! Liaisons and providers from several of our partner libraries volunteered for the Maryland Public Television pledge drive. We wore AskUsNow! t-shirts paid for by Montgomery County Public Library (thank you!) and answered the phones, taking pledges from 6:45pm until 11pm. Everyone did an excellent job and had a lot of fun. Joe and Julie even got an on-air interview with some of the talent. Since everyone had so much fun, we will likely make this a once or twice yearly event so keep your eyes peeled for future announcements. You can see pictures of the event on our new Flickr page:

The 5th anniversary of AskUsNow! is coming up March 17th, 2008. We have formed a group to start brainstorming ideas. The 5 year Celebration Team includes: Betty Morganstern, someone from Caroline County, Gregor Becker, Julie Strange, and Joe Thompson. If you are interested in getting involved with this, please contact Julie at


4. AskUsNow! Staff Blog

We have had a staff blog (available at since ALA Annual in June. Most everyone already knows about it (from what we understand) but we wanted to clear up that this is a place for community, and for opinions – we WILL NOT post any “Need To Know” information on the blog that isn’t sent on the list or posted somewhere else. While we’d like folks to participate in the blog, if you never looked at it, you wouldn’t be missing crucial information. Any questions on the blog, or to be added as a contributor, please email


5. Confirmation of Shared Follow-up Process & Review changing an email

We confirmed the process regarding Shared Follow-up (as outlined here:; libaries on the schedule for shared follow-up will either answer, or refer questions to an appropriate library rather than waiting until the customer’s home library claims the question out of Shared Follow-up.

Also, we went over how to change a customer’s email in QuestionPoint. You can find a 2-sided color print out on how to do it here:

Please share this with your providers who do email follow-up.


6. The Listserv: When to reply to all, or only to the sender

We all suffer from information overload (and if you don’t, please share your secret). In an effort to keep our inboxes filled with only the things we need to know, it was asked of everyone to be conscious of situations that require a reply to the full AskUsNow! list versus a reply directly to the sender of the original message. We do not want to stifle discussion on the list, but we would like to keep the extraneous messages to a minimum.

For example:

Message 1 (to list): Library needs coverage Friday

Message 2 (to list): Second Library will cover you on Friday

Message 3: Thank you!

Message 4: You’re welcome.


It was agreed that while we like the “thank you” confirmation, the thank you’s and you’re welcome’s don’t need to be sent to everyone on the list- those can be sent directly to the person who’s hour you are covering.

To help, Julie and Joe will try to be cognizant to make it clear when a reply to only to them, as individuals is needed and not to the entire list. For example when Julie asks if you need any more AUN materials a message directly to her is best.


7. Seeking approval for one small policy / welcome screen change

Borrowing an idea from New Zealand’s service, we proposed to change our Policy of Mutual Respect to include a note about “deliberately wasting the time and effort of librarian.” The proposal was approved by all in attendance. The policy now reads:

We treat our customers with respect and expect the same in return. If you use abusive language or deliberately waste librarian effort in a way that denies service to others, we will end the session.

  • We protect the privacy of your question. However, people who make threats or use offensive language forfeit their privacy.
  • Threats are taken seriously. If you tell us that you plan to do something illegal, you can expect there to be serious consequences.
  • We contact schools and Internet providers to report violations.

Julie will be sending a message to the list regarding this change with some examples of what kinds of sessions constitute “wasting librarian effort.”


8. How’s it Going?

This time is available to see how you’re doing, what questions you have, and to share triumphs or successes. This time Dummy library cards were brought up. Dummy library cards are only used to authenticate and not all libraries provide a dummy library card on their library’s policy page in QP. If your library has not provided a dummy card but can get approval to do so, please add it in the “library card” section of your QP Policy Page. Please let Julie know if you need assistance doing this.

Also remember that SAILOR ( is available to all Maryland libraries and any dummy card from a Maryland public library will give access to it.

We want to know how it’s going. If you have an issue, concern, or success you’d like to share, please don’t wait for the next liaison meeting; email the listserv ( or contact Joe or Julie directly.


9. Handling Requests to Volunteer as an AskUsNow! Provider

Over time, Joe and Julie have received a handful of volunteer requests from people who are practicing librarians at non-partner libraries who want to get involved with the project. We’ve so far handled things on a case-by-case basis, but we wanted to see if there were some guidelines we could get set in place for the future.

A brief discussion led to an ad-hoc committee who will discuss these issues and make recommendations to the group next meeting. Janice Lathrop, Debbie Barlow, and Gregor Becker volunteered for the ad-hoc committee to discuss these issues. If you want to be a part of the committee or have ideas to contribute, please let Julie know.

The meeting adjourned at 4pm. The next meeting will be held on December 4, 2007 at the Germantown Branch of Montgomery County Public Libraries from 10:30am to 3pm.


In attendance:

Betty Morganstern - Anne Arundel Co.
Catherine McGuire – MD State Law Library
Debbie Barlow – Howard County
Deborah Margolis – MD State Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped
Gregor Becker - Carroll Co.
Janice Lathrop - AACC
Joanna Macaulay - St. Mary’s Co.
Joe Thompson - Maryland AskUsNow!
Julie Strange - Maryland AskUsNow!
Kendra Frost - Harford Co.
Liz Beere - Carroll Community College
Marcia Dysart – Pratt / SLRC
Margie Rhoden - Calvert Co.
Mary Somers – Harford County
Sue Tinanoff - Baltimore Co
Suzanne Bell - Cecil County


Beth Cackowski - QandANJ
Cathay Crosby – Internet Public Library (formerly of Cecil Co)
Paula Isett – MSDE

2007.09.18_Minutes.doc92 KB

Listserv Round up since June 2007

Usage Statistics

  • July and August 2007 were both the busiest of these months on record!  This applies to chat questions submitted to the service and for combined chat/e-mail statistics.


  • New Staff Training Series:  Three full-day classes are currently scheduled (two with open seats):
    • Wednesday, Sept. 26 at Bel Air, HCPL (Registration Full)
    • Tuesday, Oct. 2 at PGCMLS Central Services Facility at Largo-Kettering (Registration Open)
    • Thursday, Dec. 6 at the West County Branch, AACPL (Registration Open)

To register staff to attend, please contact Joe at:

  • Refresher Training Series:These half-day sessions will provide both a review of the existing service and cover new material.  They will likely not occur until as early as spring 2008.  Note: Please contact Joe or Julie if you would be interested in having a review session arranged with your providers.
  • Recruitment Training Series for Non-Partner Libraries:  These classes are projected to offer a cursory review of the technology and best practices that we apply to providing Maryland AskUsNow!  The intent is to attract information providers from current non-partner libraries to participate and share interest with their library’s administration to join as an AskUsNow! Partner Library.  These sessions will likely occur in winter or spring 2008.
  • Administrative Features of QuestionPoint:  Two telephone training sessions took place in July. If you were unable to take part in these or would like a review of the Administrative features of QuestionPoint, please contact Joe.

Did you know?

  • The next American Library Association Midwinter Meeting will be held in Philadelphia, PA from January 11-16, 2008, with most events, discussion groups, and meetings of interest held on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  It’s a great opportunity to connect with others in the profession (even if you only go for one day)!  This is your last opportunity to attend an ALA Midwinter or Annual in our region for a few years. See:

[Only those listserv messages with ongoing significance are included here]

Jun. 6:Notes from the June 5 Liaison Meeting are available at:


Jun. 7:Please check your contact information at and contact Julie if corrections are needed.


Jun. 8: QuestionPoint were shared problems regarding the use of Sun Java Runtime Environment 1.6 and cobrowsing.  Sun Java Runtime Environment 1.5 only is considered compatible.  For more information, see:


Jun. 11:Some new AskUsNow! logo styles became available on our Marketing page at:  Please contact Julie if you need an AskUsNow! logo created for your library of a particular size or alignment.


Jun. 12: All staff should have Screen Names that include a first name (even if a pseudonym).  The screen name should no longer use initials in place of a name.  Contact Julie if you would like help updating your provider’s screen names.


Jun. 14: An extremely important computer setting for providing QuestionPoint’s Flash Chat.  You may want to check for this every time you have a shift on AskUsNow!


In Internet Explorer:

Tools >

Internet Options >

Temporary Internet Files, [Settings...] button >

Check for newer versions of stored pages >

* Every visit to the page


Jun. 19:A statewide shared script has been added for when helping customers globally on the 24/7 Reference queue.  We are also recommending that each Maryland librarian create their own personal scripted welcome message that includes their first name.  To add your own personal script:


Log in to My QuestionPoint

Go to the ASK module

Click Settings > My Scripts

Once you've typed in your script, click "Add" to save it. You can edit or delete it at any point.


Jun. 26: New Maryland AskUsNow! Staff Blognow available at:


Jul. 5: Bookmarksare available from Julie if you need them!


Jul. 9: Surveysfor e-mail/followup service are now turned on.  Surveys for most, but not all, libraries for chat sessions had previously been turned on.  Now surveys for chat sessions are turned on for all Maryland AskUsNow! libraries.


Jul. 9:Tips on how to find Fiscal Year usage statistics for your library in QuestionPoint.


Jul. 11:If your library is planning on using a QP question form for your library’s e-mail/webform service, Joe would be interested to know.


Jul. 16: Marketing update.


Jul. 16: New Maryland AskUsNow! radio spot is available to listen, download, and share with your local radio stations:


Jul. 18:Discussion took place via telephone meeting to confirm Shared Followup procedures.  On Aug. 6 Julie sent a message to the listserv to offer clarification on the decisions made.


Jul. 23: Help pages for QP Admin features have been created resulting from telephone trainings.


Jul. 23:Screenshots, instructions, and the schedule for handling Shared Followup are available


Jul. 26:  Spam in chat?  If you are 100% sure that a New chat is indeed computer-generated spam, you are to pick it up, add a note of “SPAM,” and close the call with a resolution code of Lost Call.


Jul. 27:Please add PIN information to your library’s Policy Page if this information is not already there.


Aug. 1:Many of us wondered about the QPADMINISTRATORS-L@OCLC.ORG listserv.  Apparently this is a little-used QuestionPoint listserv, so most of us didn’t even realize that we were on it.  Joe shared directions on Aug. 5 regarding how to unsubscribe to this listserv if you feel that you need to be removed.


Aug. 6:Joe forwarded a message that was widely released on other listservs from Bill Pardue regarding the “Slam the Boards” initiative on Sept. 10.  The event may continue and be repeated again.


Aug. 8: Reminder from Julie and Joe to make sure customer has what they need before we end the session.  Tina Pickens of BCPL also suggested use of a personal script asking, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?"


Aug. 8: AskUsNow! business cards are available to staff at partner libraries who do not have their own business cards.  These cards have blank space to include personal information.  Contact Julie to have some

sent to you.


Aug. 13:A new version of the promotional flyer is available to distribute to K-12 schools.


Aug. 20: Loyola Blakefield School joins as an AskUsNow! partner library!  This brings our total membership to 34 partners.  Loyola Blakefield is currently our only middle/high school partner.


Aug. 21: Reminder on not to copy and paste large chunks of text into chat.  When copy and pasting smaller chunks of text, remember to put into quotes and reference where on the page the text was found.


Aug. 31:  Review of how to change a customer’s e-mail for followup purposes.


Sep. 5:  AskUsNow! radio spot to be heard on WWEG 106.9 The Eagle out of Hagerstown over Sept. - Nov. 2007


Sep. 7:  Online program about accessible online book resources will be on 9/20/07 at 2:00 p.m.  Our Julie is one of the presenters!


Sep. 12:  AskUsNow! chat schedule has been updated.  Please contact Julie if corrections are needed.


Sep. 13:  An interesting new citing resource was shared:


Sep. 13:  Link to QP’s Chat 2 now available from the page.


Sep. 15:  Please send good stories to Joe for the next AskUsNow! grant report!


Sep. 16:  Please nominate your colleagues for the next MarylandLibrary Association awards!


Sep. 16: Gary Priceto speak at UMCP libraries on Nov. 14.


Sep. 17: Eliminating Barriers to Service with Lightweight chat, webinaron Sept. 19 at 12:00 noon.  Joe and Julie are 2 of the 4 speakers.


March 2007 Liaison Meeting

When and Where

Tuesday, March 6, 2007
12:30pm - 4pm

Rockville Library, Montgomery County Public Libraries
21 Maryland Ave. Rockville, MD 20850


  1. Introductions
  2. Admin/Administrator Reports in QuestionPoint (Joe/Julie)
  3. Proposed revision of AskUsNow! Policy and Service Guidelines (Julie and ad hoc committee)
  4. Training: “New Staff,” “Refresher,” and idea for bringing in new partners (Joe)
  5. eVisioning Conference and ALA Midwinter Meetings Reports
  6. Volunteer Team proposal for weekend coverage (Julie)
  7. Spanish coverage (Julie)
  8. Visit by search and resource expert Gary Price of ResourceShelf, DocuTicker, and
  9. Review of December 5th meeting notes and Roundup of other updates

Documents for Discussion

Documents distributed at meeting

Administration Reports Documentation (.pdf)

"What You Can Do" from eVisioning conference (.pdf)

Additional Documents

Ask Reports Documentation (.pdf)

Email Reference and Chat Follow-up Guidelines (.doc)

Listserv Round up since December 2006


  • We expect the next New Staff Training classes to be offered in April. Locations are being arranged and will be announced by mid-March. Contact Joe at if you expect to have staff attend a class in this series.
  • This year’s Maryland AskUsNow! Refresher Training series for staff already providing the service is currently expected to be offered over May-July.  These will likely be 3-4 hour classes. We will be working on the content over March and April.  So far, the following topics have been recommended by the AskUsNow! Liaisons:


  • Overview of QP Flash Chat
  • Cobrowsing
  • IMing
  • Transfers
  • Troubleshooting tips- set up, how to fix a jumping screen, etc.
  • Follow-up Procedures
  • Schedules for following up by specific libraries
  • Voice Over IP (VOIP)


  • How much is enough when answering, when to refer, when to follow up?
  • How do we handle not being able to get into databases?
  • What databases are available to us?


  • Reference Behaviors
  • Reference Interview / Query Clarification
  • Evaluating Websites
  • When dealing with difficult questions, such as math, science, business, etc.
  • Online business reference training
  • Non-verbal communication via computer mediated communication (CMC)
  • Chatting with children and teens
    • Deborah Margolis has already presented at EPFL on this subject and offered to share her notes and resources


Interim Grant Report Submitted

  • The Interim LSTA Report for the current AskUsNow! grant (Sep. 2006 - Aug. 2007) was submitted to the Maryland State Division of Library Development and Services (DLDS) on March 1, 2007.


Marketing and Publicity Updates

  • A supply of a few boxes of orange highlighter keychains is still available.  If you would like a portion sent to your library, please contact Joe or Julie.
  • A new radio spot aired on Central Maryland radio station MIX 106.5 the week of January 7-13, 2007.  It promoted AskUsNow! as a resource for college and K-12 students returning to class from winter break. January 2007 proved to be our January of highest usage on record with 4556 chats. We may consider using radio for publicity again later this year.
  • March 17, 2007 will mark the 4-year anniversary of Maryland AskUsNow!’s launch.  Would it be useful to recognize this date with the public?  Would libraries be able to use a press release?  Other ideas?


First Maryland AskUsNow! Providers Meeting at the Maryland Library Association Conference

On Thursday, May 3 at 8:00 a.m. we will be holding our first AskUsNow! providers meeting during the Maryland Library Association Annual Conference in Ocean City, MD.  This will be an opportunity for the librarians who provide the service to meet and find out the latest news about the project.  Coffee will be served!


Upcoming QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference User Group Meetings In and Near Maryland

  • Friday, March 30, 3:30-5:00 during the ACRL Conference in Baltimore City
  • Tuesday, April 10, at the Library of Congress sponsored by OCLC’s Capcon & Fedlink
  • Monday, June 25, 4:00-5:30 during the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.


Revised Policies for the 24/7 Reference Cooperative (for librarians providing “Global” service)

  • 24/7 Reference: New policy on Screen Names

  • 24/7 Reference: New policy on Patron Privacy

  • 24/7 Reference: New policies on Rude Patrons



  • The standard Maryland AskUsNow chat monitoring schedule has most recently been updated as of January 29.  Please contact Julie if the schedule does not accurately reflect the hours that your library provides.
  • Spring Break and Winter Break at the colleges: The project liaison from each of our academic partners should alert Julie as early as possible regarding what days they will miss covering their regular AskUsNow! shift due to Spring Breaks and Winter Breaks. Julie will compile these missed hours and only request substitute coverage for the most significant.


MDASKUSNOW E-mail Listserv

  • It is a responsibility of the AskUsNow! Project Liaison from each partner library to be a member of the listserv.  In addition, librarians who provide AskUsNow! are also welcome to join the list.  Contact Julie at to be added.
  • The MDASKUSNOW list is very active.  If you haven’t received any messages from the list for 3-4 days, then something is keeping you from seeing the messages. Check to verify that the spam blocking tools of your e-mail service isn’t keeping you from receiving these listserv messages.
  • If your e-mail address has changed, contact Julie so that she can remove your old address and add your new address.


Headset Distribution Complete

Internet Headsets (with microphone) have been distributed to our AskUsNow! Partner Libraries.  These should be used to participate in online meetings (for example, those held in the Maryland Libraries OPAL Room, OPAL programs (, listening to podcasts, etc. The headsets will also be used as planning for a Voice over IP facet of the AskUsNow! service develops.

[Only those listserv messages with ongoing relevance are included here]


Dec. 7 / Dec. 13: The question was asked about the process that project liaisons use to do their transcript review.  Some are looking in Question Lists > Active and others are generating Ask > Reports. Many are using survey responses to easily find customer compliments and complaints.


Dec. 11: The AskUsNow! Partners web site has been updated so that all pages should now have the left-side navigation.


Dec. 12: A new staff page has been created on our Partners web site, Resources.  This page lists recommended web sites for AskUsNow! providers.


Dec. 15: Joan Stahl shared a great example of a question where using the QuestionPoint Global Knowledgebase (KB) proved helpful to answering an otherwise hard-to-find answer.  The Global KB can be searched at: You can also find the Knowledgebase under “Quick Links” on your My QuestionPoint screen.


Dec. 18:The College of Southern Maryland will be covering a portion of their hours by monitoring AskUsNow! on Sunday mornings.  Julie and the CSM librarians are suggesting that the formation of an AskUsNow! “Sunday Team” be considered. This topic will be discussed at the March 6 Liaison Meeting.


Dec. 19: A new resource has been created to help librarians interpret commonly used chat abbreviations and emoticons


Dec. 22: For new recommended online resources, see RUSA’s Best Free Web Resources of 2006:


Dec. 22: Clarification on using the Lost Call Resolution Code.  Use it only in rare instances where the customer has not provided an e-mail address and absolutely no communication happened during the chat.  No follow-up is possible.


Dec. 22:Julie shared a set of recent feedback from customers about AskUsNow! – overwhelmingly positive!


Dec. 29: The ad hoc committee charged with revising the customer-entry page recommends that libraries now change the virtual category link (the long URL) on their library’s web pages instead to


Jan. 3: Julie shared her new process for completing the daily session review.  A following message clarified that project liaisons may “close” questions provided by other librarians to their customers as soon as they have reviewed them.


Jan. 6:If librarians experience a jumping chat screen, it may be caused by a partially loaded Flash 9 update.


Jan. 16: Reminder to project liaisons to keep their library’s Policy Page updated, as well as a recommendation to add information about: 1) whether your library has a subscription to an online tutor; 2) whether your library has wireless access; 3) downloadable media access/help information (ebooks, audiobooks, video)


Jan. 24: Deborah Margolis shared resources for chatting with children and young adults.


Jan. 26: Cathay Crosby (Cecil Co. PL Project Liaison) will be the new coordinator of the Internet Public Library!


Jan. 29:Clarification on what satisfies as a minimum response from us on an e-mail follow-up. There should always be some “content” to the reply in the form of web resources etc., not only an invitation to return.  There were several listserv replies to this discussion.


Jan. 29:Julie shared a set of recent feedback from AskUsNow! customers.


Jan. 31: Instead of making the reports themselves easier to use and understand, QuestionPoint staff has made available a 22-minute tutorial that describes the assortment of reports available in QP:


Jan. 31:Notes are now available resulting from the QuestionPoint Users Group Meeting held in Seattle during ALA Midwinter.  See the QuestionPoint blog:


Jan. 31: Call for more members of the AskUsNow! Guidelines Revision Ad Hoc Committee.  Please contact Julie if interested.


Feb. 6: QuestionPoint documentation has been updated regarding the recommended settings for the librarian’s computer.  See:


Feb. 20: AskUsNow! is doing a quick survey of staff to find out how they use the Partners staff support web site:


Feb. 20: Notice of Reinvented Reference 3 Preconference at ALA Annual in Washington, D.C. on June 22.


Feb. 22: Upcoming Palinet workshopson best practices for providing virtual reference:


Feb. 26:A draft of new AskUsNow! E-mail/Follow-up Guidelines were made available. Please provide feedback to Julie.


Feb. 27: If you experience technical difficulties with QuestionPoint that you can’t resolve, please contact Julie.  If she can’t resolve the problem either, she may recommend contacting QuestionPoint support at

March 2007 Liaison Meeting Notes

1. Introductions

Joe and Julie welcomed everyone to the new Rockville Library in Montgomery County. This meeting’s ice breaker question was “what is the most interesting / strange thing you see on your commute to work?”


As per a suggestion from last liaison meeting, table tents were provided for liaisons with their county, school, or library name.


2. Admin/Administration Reports in QuestionPoint

Until now, the AUN recommendation for running reports was to run an ASK report. However, recently Joe and Julie have discovered that the numbers found in ASK reports are not static and may be unreliable. AUN is now recommending that Reports in the Administration Module be used. QuestionPoint is aware of the current limitations on Admin Reports and according to Joan Stahl, they have advised her that they are working to improve things.


An Admin Report will give you the following information:

  • how many questions your customers asked
  • how many sessions your librarians picked up


Documentation has been created for running Admin Reports and can be found on the Partners Page

An additional help document was created in November to help understand the ASK report’s matrix.

A question was raised on whether “answers sent” in the monthly admin report for follow-up meant how many answers (messages?) were sent from your librarians or to your customers. Julie will be following up with QuestionPoint to determine this and will post the answer to the listserv.


3. Proposed Revision of AskUsNow! Policies & Service Guidelines

An ad-hoc committee formed at the December 5, 2006 liaison meeting revised the Policies and Service Guidelines. The committee is chaired by Julie Strange (AUN) and includes Liam Kennedy (College of Southern Maryland), Margie Rhoden (Calvert County), and Debbie Barlow (Howard County).

On behalf of the committee, Julie presented on the revisions. Debbie and Liam were not present.


While things have been added and formatting changed, no previous policy was deleted or changed more than perhaps some wordsmithing.


Liaisons are asked to please read over the document and post comments / concerns / ideas to the listserv or email Julie directly ( A vote/consensus will be taken to make this document our official guidelines before the next liaison meeting in June 2007.


The revised guidelines are posted on the Partners Page.


Policy and service guidelines- take a look at, discuss- the committee would like a vote to be taken- consensus- before the next liaison meeting.


4. Training: New Staff, Refresher, and idea for bringing in new Partners

New Staff Training

We expect the next New Staff Training classes to be offered in April. Locations are being arranged and will be announced by the end of March. Contact Joe at if you expect to have staff attend a class in this series.


Refresher Training

This year’s Maryland AskUsNow! Refresher Training series for staff already providing the service is currently expected to be offered over May-July.  These will likely be 3-4 hour classes. We will be working on the content over March and April.  So far, the following topics have been recommended by the AskUsNow! Liaisons:



  • Overview of QP Flash Chat
  • Cobrowsing
  • IMing
  • Transfers
  • Troubleshooting tips- set up, how to fix a jumping screen, etc.
  • Follow-up Procedures
  • Schedules for following up by specific libraries
  • Voice Over IP (VOIP)


  • How much is enough when answering, when to refer, when to follow up?
  • How do we handle not being able to get into databases?
  • What databases are available to us?


  • Reference Behaviors
  • Reference Interview / Query Clarification
  • Evaluating Websites
  • When dealing with difficult questions, such as math, science, business, etc.
  • Online business reference training
  • Non-verbal communication via computer mediated communication (CMC)
  • Chatting with children and teens
  • Deborah Margolis has already presented at EPFL on this subject and offered to share her notes and resources


It was noted that since we are expecting to expand coverage to businesses, there should be a focus on how to deal with the new kinds of questions that we will be getting.


Non-Partner Play Day

In an effort to bring in more partner libraries, AUN would like to have a “play day” or “training” to get currently non-participating libraries to join in the fun with AskUsNow! This idea originated from Vince Mariner of AskHere PA.


This “play day” would give libraries and librarians a chance to see what AskUsNow! is all about and ask questions.


Everyone present seemed to like the idea and it was noted that along with a Play Day, AUN should be meeting face to face with library directors as well.


5. eVisioning Conference and ALA Midwinter Meeting Reports

eVisioning: The Future of Maryland Libraries

n early January, Julie joined 125 other stakeholders from around the State of Maryland representing public libraries; academic libraries; public and independent school libraries (K-12); special libraries; library educators and students; trustees, library boards, friends, and customers; special needs libraries; professional organization leaders; and the Maryland State Department of Education to create and own an optimistic future and 5 year plan for Maryland libraries.


Along with the “What You Can Do” document compiled from the eVisioning main presenter, Andrew Zolli’s, wrap up which is posted on the Partners Page. Here are some brief points from Julie’s notes:

  • you need to have the people in place that will initiate change. Hire the attitude, train the skill. On the same note we need to be weeding our own collections of staff and get rid of the dead weight. You’re only as good as your weakest link.
  • you need to be flexible enough to not only anticipate change, but actually reposition yourself to accept it.
  • bring your customers in on the conversation. you are, after all, in existence for THEM! Let teens paint their own teen space, talk to constituents and see what THEY want. then LISTEN and ACT.we may not be able to keep up with content, but we can give ppl a PROCESS.
  • libraries are businesses. think like one. hire marketing people.
  • find out what causes your customers pain. fix it.
  • institutionalize innovation
  • make things easier. there is no reason why things need to be hard.
  • give up a little control.

American Library Association, Midwinter Meeting

Joe and Julie had the privilege of attending the Midwinter meeting of ALA in Seattle in January. If anyone is interested in photos, ALA has a group photo pool on Flickr (some of Julie’s photos of the Seattle Public Library are included):


As a result of a meeting at ALA, Julie is now part of a group/committee to look into the possibility for collaborative IM. Julie is a part of the software team exploring what might be out there already. Currently, some libraries are providing IM reference, but only through a commercial IM tool, and not collaboratively. Hopefully, this group will be able to make some solid recommendations by ALA Annual for all those interested in providing a collaborative IM service.


Julie is now also a member of the ALA RUSA RSS Collaborative Reference Services committee, acting as liaison to the ALA RUSA MARS Virtual Reference committee of which Joe is chair. For more information on any of these divisions / committees, please check out


--- --- Break and Tour of Library --- ---


6. Presentation by Gary Price of ResourceShelf, DocuTicker, and

Gary’s presentation (and all the links of the cool stuff he showed us) can be found here:


A Cool Thing of Note:

You can get 2 hours of free access to Encarta by searching your topic plus the word “Encarta” in MSN’s Live Search. For example:



do a search for
Maryland and Encarta

Click on an Encarta result:

And Voila! you have 2 hours free access to most of the Encarta Suite online!


Additional Topics

Due to lack of time, the following topics were not discussed at this meeting:


1. Proposal of Volunteer Team for AskUsNow! Weekend Coverage

Currently, AskUsNow! is covering very limited hours during the weekend. Julie would like to propose a volunteer team be put together (joining Liam Kennedy and Jennifer Butler from the College of Southern Maryland who provide service on alternate Sundays) to beef up our weekend coverage.


Due to funding constraints, any person or library willing to provide AUN on a weekend would be doing so as a volunteer. The goal is to have enough people participating in weekend coverage on a rotating schedule that people would cover once every so many weeks.


Please use the AUN listserv for discussion of this topic.


2. More Spanish Coverage Needed

Currently, AUN is down from 5 to 1 Spanish hours for the collaborative. Anyone able to provide Spanish coverage is asked to contact Julie immediately.


Think of your currently non-AUN providing staff as well! If you have someone who can speak Spanish, is able to provide reference at your library and can attend an AUN New Staff training- can be added to the schedule.


3. Email Follow-up Guidelines

Guidelines have been created for email reference and follow-up. These guidelines are posted on the Partners Page and need to be looked at and voted on before becoming official documentation.


Please use the AUN listserv for discussion of this topic.


4. AskUsNow! MySpace Page

AskUsNow! has a MySpace Page that is growing in popularity! If you or your library has a MySpace

page- friend us!


5. New 24/7 Reference Policies

24/7 Reference as added new policies on Librarian Screen Names, Patron Privacy, and Rude Patrons.

Additional information on these additions can be found on the 24/7 Reference / QP blog:

Screen names:


Patron Privacy:


Rude Patrons:


6. Review of December 5th meeting notes, Roundup, and other updates

The previous meeting’s notes and Roundup are posted on the Partners Page.


In attendance:

Alison Sherwell - Charles Co.
Betty Morganstern - Anne Arundel Co.
Beverly Lehrer - Montgomery College
Bob Baldwin - Allegany Co.
Catherine McGuire - Maryland State Law Library
Daria Perry - DLDS
Derek Buker - Frederick County
Elizabeth Hulett - Washington County
Gregor Becker - Carroll Co.
Janice Beall - Allegany County
Janice Lathrop - AACC
Jim Lynch - BCCC
Joan Stahl - University of MD
Joanna Macaulay - St. Mary’s Co.
Joe Thompson - Maryland AskUsNow!
John Krivak - Prince George’s Co.
Julie Strange - Maryland AskUsNow!
Kathryn Kalmanson - Salisbury University
Kendra Frost - Harford Co.
Liz Beere - Carroll Community College
Lucinda Taber – Cecil County
Marcia Dysart - EPFL/SLRC
Margie Rhoden - Calvert Co.
Norma Schmidt - Prince George’s Community College
Sue Tinanoff - Baltimore Co
Suzanne Bell - Cecil County
Suzanne Carbone - Montgomery County

December 2006 Liaison Meeting

Tuesday December 5, 2006
12:30pm - 4pm

Calvert Library, Prince Frederick
850 Costley Way
Prince Frederick, MD 20678

[new building, opened November 2006.]


  1. Introductions
  2. Revisions to page (ad-hoc committee: S. Tinanoff, J. Stahl)
  3. Guidelines for explicit song lyrics when filtered (ad-hoc committee: D. Margolis)
  4. Need for general revisions to AskUsNow! Policy & Service Guidelines
  5. The local Maryland AskUsNow! Knowledgebase (J. Stahl)
  6. AskUsNow! on MySpace:
  7. Ideas for a refresher/update training series in spring 2007
  8. How we can help students understand importance of citing sources (J. Stahl)
  9. MarylandAskUsNow! Phase 2: Planning Voice over IP update
  10. Implementing the Liaison mentoring program for new partner libraries
  11. Review of September 12th meeting notes and other updates

Documents for discussion

June 2006 Liaison Meeting

Tuesday, June 6, 2006
12:30pm - 4pm

Frederick County Public Libraries
C. Burr Artz Public Library [main branch]
110 East Patrick Street
Frederick, MD 21701


  1. Introductions
  2. Option on how to use QuestionPoint for your library’s e-mail reference
  3. What training resources should we now create locally? (ex. Instructions for ending a call)
  4. Recommendation to revise page: public/college entry points
  5. Voice Over IP implementation (getting back in gear!) & OPAL
  6. Feedback from teen VR focus group in Caroline County
  7. Is there a need for guideline on followup service (frequency or time commitment)?
  8. Review of March 7th meeting notes and other updates

Documents resulting from meeting

Documents for review:

September 2006 Liaison Meeting

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
12:30-4:00 p.m.

Carroll Community College
1601 Washington Road (Maryland Rt. 32)
Westminster, MD 21157
Room M 157-159
Phone: 410-386-8000 or 888-221-9748

[note on 7/26/2010- when adding these archived doc, September 2006 docs are missing. search continues]

Documents resulting from meeting

  • September 12, 2006 Meeting Notes (.doc)
  • Enoch Pratt's staff pre-review session questionnaire (.doc)
  • Feedback for Paulette Hasier of OCLC Capcon regarding QuestionPoint (.txt)

Documents for discussion

  • Agenda (.doc)
  • AskUsNow! Roundup: Updates since June 6, 2006 (.doc)
  • Position Announcement: Maryland AskUsNow! Operations Supervisor (.pdf)
  • Mockup of home page with menus instead of zip code authenticator
  • For AskUsNow! staff: Frequently Asked Questions
  • 24/7 Reference Best Practices (.pdf)
  • Maryland AskUsNow! Phase 2: Planning Voice over IP and OPAL online rooms
  • Libraries and Social Networking Sites

March 2006 Liaison Meeting

Tuesday, March 7, 2006
12:30pm - 4pm

Anne Arundel County Public Library West County Area Library
Meeting Room A
1325 Annapolis Road Odenton, MD 21113 410-222-6277


  1. Introductions
  2. QuestionPoint Followup and Supervisor’s Settings
  3. Are we ready for Flash Chat? March 18 final preparations
  4. Clarifications within AskUsNow! Guidelines
  5. Status of Spanish service, question of promotion
  6. Review of December 6th meeting notes and other updates

Documents resulting from meeting

Documents for review

December 2005 Liaison Meeting

Tuesday, December 6, 2005
12:30-4:00 p.m.

Howard County Library, Miller Branch
9421 Frederick Road Ellicott City, MD 21042


  1. Introductions and welcome to new liaisons
  2. Review of September 13th meeting notes and Roundup/Announcements
  3. Phase 2 Planning Team progress report / Voice Over IP
  4. Plan for new academic library partnerships
  5. QuestionPoint "Flash Chat" transition / training
  6. Clarifications within AskUsNow! Guidelines
  7. Status of Spanish service, question of promotion Pencils, pencils, pencils

Documents resulting from meeting

Documents for review

September 2005 Liaison Meeting

Tuesday, September 13, 2005
12:30-3:00 p.m.

This meeting will be held as a videoconference on the Sailor Video Network. Please see site locations below.


  1. Introductions and welcome to new liaisons, guests
  2. Report on July’s Collaborative Virtual Reference Symposium in Denver (Cindy Hackett, Joe Thompson)
  3. Summary report on “Staffing Levels” discussion (Betty Morganstern)
  4. Co-branding buttons (Joe Thompson)
  5. Inappropriate calls: When to end, when to continue (Follow-up to discussion at June 7 meeting)
  6. QuestionPoint transition updates (Joe)
  7. InfoEyes service model update (Mollyne Honor, Joe)
  8. Voice Over IP and screen readable chat: “Maryland AskUsNow! Phase II” (Deborah Margolis, Mollyne, Joe)
  9. Next refresher training series: Input needed

Documents resulting from meeting

Documents for review

Project Liaisons have the option to attend at any one of these 5 site locations:

Main Site
Enoch Pratt Free Library / State Library Resource Center Central Library
400 Cathedral Street Baltimore, MD 21201
[Parking lot on northwest corner of Franklin St. at Park Ave. has a $6.00 flat fee. This meeting will be held in the Poe Room on the library's 2nd floor. No staff escort or security code is needed to access this area.]

Remote Site #1
Washington County Free Library: Central Library
100 South Potomac Street Hagerstown, MD 21740

Remote Site #2
Southern Maryland Regional Library Association
[Located attached to the Charlotte Hall Library of St. Mary's County Memorial Library]
37600 New Market Road Charlotte Hall, MD 20622

Remote Site #3
Caroline County Public Library: Central Library
100 Market Street Denton, MD 21629

Remote Site #4
Eastern Shore Regional Library [Located below the Wicomico Public Library in Salisbury]
122 South Division Street Salisbury, MD 21801

December 2017 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Perryville Branch, Cecil County Public Library

500 Coudon Blvd.
Perryville, MD 21903


Larger Map


Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


There is free on-site parking.

Lunch​:  Johnny's Sushi



Minutes_December2017_AUNLiaisonMeeting.pdf337.77 KB

June 2018 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Montgomery College Library

20200 Observation Drive

Humanities Building (HS 110)

Germantown, MD 20876

Campus Map


Attending online?  We will most likely be using Google Hangouts. 

UPDATE on 6/8/18:  The Google Hangout invite was sent to staff attending online.  




Beverages and light refreshments will be served.



There is free on-site parking.





Minutes_June2018_AUNLiaisonMeeting.pdf149.36 KB

September 2017 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH)

415 Park Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21201


Larger Map


Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


There are parking garages available in the vicinity. Paid street parking is available on Park Avenue. 

Please consider booking a parking space using one of the following services:



September_2017_Minutes.pdf566.82 KB

June 2017 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Baltimore County Public Library, Owings Mills Branch, Room 307B

10302 Grand Central Avenue
Owings Mills, Maryland 21117

Larger Map


Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


Free parking is available at two garages which are located on either side of the library building.



June_2017_Notes_Final.pdf255.61 KB

March 2017 Liaison Meeting

Where & When

Thursday, March 9, 2017

10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Charlotte Hall Library (SMRLA), St. Mary's County Library, 37600 New Market Rd, Charlotte Hall, MD 20622

View Larger Map



Beverages and light refreshments will be served.


Parking at the Charlotte Hall Library is free.


Nearby options include: 



March_2017_Notes.pdf330.33 KB