Descriptive Codes

Effective Friday, 7/1/16, AskUsNow! Admins discontinued collecting and reporting Descriptive Code data at the statewide level.  Chat providers do not need to add in the Descriptive Codes, whether they are the statewide descriptive codes or the generic QuestionPoint codes.  Library partners have the option to add back in the codes for local reporting purposes.  

We are taking this immediate step to focus our efforts on Statistical Sampling as the data collection model that will be most uniformed and aligned to the federal guidelines that all Maryland libraries have to follow starting in July 2016.

What are Descriptive Codes?

A descriptive code is a subject-specific tag we assign a chat session. It allows QuestionPoint and AskUsNow! to monitor usage and track trends in subject matter.

How do they work?

Much like resolution codes, descriptive codes are added to a chat session at its conclusion. They can also be added to a session by a liaison at a later time. This video (recorded using a previous interface) shows how to add a descriptive code post-chat.

Each library can adjust their descriptive codes to meet their own needs. When chatting, you will only see the descriptive codes available from the customer's library. While marking a chat session, scan the entire list of descriptive codes to find the most accurate ones. You may add up to four descriptive codes per chat.

To ensure that Maryland customers follow a cohesive statewide list, we surveyed the liaisons and came up with a statewide list of codes. Local libraries may then add any additional codes.

What's on our statewide list and when do I apply what code?

In July 2015, our current AskUsNow! Administration developed a list of 15 codes that were revised and updated from provider and liaison feedback:

1.  Business & Career Development

Questions about business and career research, including how to start or further development a business or nonprofit; finding job and volunteer opportunities; and building cover letters, job applications, and resumes.

2.  Catalog

Questions about finding library materials and using the library catalog.

3.  Databases & Research Tools

Questions about finding and using library databases, how-to and subject guides, and citing sources. 

4.  Directional

Questions about hours, locations, and who to contact at the library.

5.  eBooks & eMagazines

Questions about eBook and eMagazine services, including questions about accessing and troubleshooting these services.

6.  Genealogy

Questions related to genealogy, including requests for obituaries and death notices.

7.  Holds

Questions about requesting holds and hold statuses that are not related to interlibrary loan (ILL).

8.  ILL

Questions about requesting holds and hold statuses that are from outside of the customer’s library system.These questions may refer to Marina, OCLC WorldCat, or services beyond the USMAI.

9.  Law

Questions specifically about legal research, law information, or referrals to law services.

10.  Library Card Account

Questions related to a customer’s library account (i.e. Circulation), which includes PIN and library card help; checking out, returning, or renewing library materials, and fines and fees.

11.  Personal Interest

Questions that are not for academic or professional research, or student assignments.

12.  Programs, Events, & Services

Questions about library programs, events, and services, including information about donations, loaning equipment, meeting rooms, purchasing suggestions, volunteering, and Summer Reading Programs.

13.  Reader's Advisory

Questions about suggestions on what to read, watch, or listen to; or seeking to identify a title from the customers’ clues provided during the chat.

14.  STEM

Student questions about science, technology, engineering, and math assignments and projects.

15.  Student Assignment

Questions from K-12 and college students about their projects, homework, or other school-related assignments.  Also use this code for referrals to tutoring services.

Why should I use descriptive codes?

Descriptive codes will help us track the content, category, or subject matter for which our Maryland AskUsNow! customers are inquiring. This information allows us to understand customer needs, redirect marketing efforts, and submit better usage reports.

How can I (as a liaison) add more descriptive codes for my local institution?

You do not have to add additional codes for your local institution if you don't want to.  We do encourage you to use the statewide codes in your local reporting. If you want to use additional codes locally, view the 1 minute video that explains how to add codes for use in QP.

Do I have to use descriptive codes?

Yes. Every Maryland AskUsNow! chat provider must set 1-4 descriptive codes for all Maryland AskUsNow! customers they handle.  Global chat sessions do not receive descriptive codes, and the codes do not match AskUsNow!'s descriptive codes.

Where's the video showing me how to add descriptive codes in chat?

Right here!  (This video is a classic from Cathay Keough.  The QuestionPoint Interface/Look has been updated, but the tutorial thoroughly explains how to use descriptive codes.  The quiz at the end of the video is optional.)


Quiz_August2015StatewideDescriptiveCodes.docx27.79 KB
Quiz&Answers_August2015StatewideDescriptiveCodes.docx31.25 KB