QuestionPoint Cooperative Update: October 2017

On behalf of Wren Spangler, OCLC · QuestionPoint Cooperative Coordinator


Dear Cooperative Librarians,


Historically, October has been one of our busiest months of the year. I thought it might be helpful to share some suggestions for providing high-quality service in the most efficient manner possible.


1) IM and Transfer: Be efficient in your communication with your colleagues!

Unlike the Cooperative contribution shifts which require a dedicated commitment to joining chat sessions, local queue monitoring can (and should!) be done while librarians are concurrently staffing a physical desk or telephone reference. That means that if a librarian monitoring a single queue is helping an in-person patron, a chat session originating from that library will roll up to the Cooperative librarians after the patron has been waiting around 60 seconds.


If the local librarian finishes assisting the in-person patron, a local librarian with Ask Administrator privileges can see that a Cooperative librarian is helping a patron from his institution. The local librarian may choose to contact the Cooperative chatting librarian via IM and request a transfer. That scenario provides many advantages: the patron does not have to wait very long to connect with a librarian, the Cooperative librarian can begin the reference conversation, and the local librarian can continue assisting the local patron.


The basic steps are as follows:


Respond to an IM from another librarian
• Click OK in the New IM Request box that pops up.
• Click the IM tab.
• Click on the session in the My Active IM Sessions list. 

Transfer an active patron session to another monitoring librarian
• Click Transfer in the patron session that you want to transfer.
• Click on the librarian who will receive the session, and send an IM message to determine their availability for a transfer (unless receiving librarian already sent an IM to you first).
• Click Transfer and then click Close. 

Note: The IM messages and the transfer request between you and the other librarian will appear in the Chat History as Librarian Notes. They will not be visible to the patron and will not appear in the emailed version of the transcript.


If you'd like to view a visual tutorial, check out this excellent video created by Jaclyn McKewan (Ask Us 24/7): IM and Transfer!


2) Patron Waiting Messages: Make efficient use of your patron's wait time!

Institution administrators can enable default messages that appear to patrons at timed intervals, or they can create their own messages. The Qwidget and the chat form can have different customized messages.


Libraries often use these messages to manage their patrons' expectations by explaining that they will be assisted by a non-local librarian, to ask their patrons to verify their email addresses, and to ask their patrons to provide more information about the research topic. By having the patron enter this additional information into the chat while the patron is waiting, it saves time so the chatting librarian can begin the conversation at a more advanced stage in the reference process.



3) Sources: Go directly to known sources instead of starting with a general internet search engine.

For some types of reference questions, it can be helpful to have some ready-reference internet resources in your mind or at least at your fingertips. For those who would like to have new acquisitions for their "mental ready-reference shelf," try these suggestions:

• Remember to consult the library's policy page. The library may have created a guide listing general resources (or databases!) that you can send the patron while you do some more in-depth searching.

• Share your sources. Think of the "Share your reference story" website as an opportunity to share your favorite internet resources with your colleagues. We can all learn from each other!  


4) Training: Learn more about QuestionPoint's features 

Librarians can be more efficient in their reference transactions if they are familiar with how to use QuestionPoint's features. Consider watching our recorded instructor-led training for a refresher.



5) Policy Pages: Help your colleagues efficiently use your policy page to access local library information! 

What Cooperative Update would be complete without including a note about policy pages? ;-)

In addition to the standard reminders about ensuring that your information and links are up-to-date, consider these suggestions:


• The chatting librarians can use a Ctrl-F (Find-in-page) search to locate information on your policy page--but only if you have added the information to your page!

• Add a "last updated" date. Libraries have added this date either in the Alerts field or at the end of the Other Policies field.

• Format your policy page with well-placed line breaks and bold or 'all caps' formatting for section headers within fields. You can use a Text to HTML website to create WYSIWYG formatting and then paste the HTML code into the policy page.


Some examples of policy pages with excellent formatting are:

Arlington Heights Memorial Library (IL)

Bath Spa University (UK--SCONUL)

Cornell University (NY)

Multnomah County Library (OR)

University of Washington


**NOTE: If you review those libraries' policy pages, you might discover that they all provide Cooperative librarians with access to their databases so the chatting librarians can help their students efficiently!



I hope these tips and suggestions are useful to you. Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or ideas to include in future Cooperative Updates. Thank you for your participation in QuestionPoint's 24/7 Reference Cooperative!


Best regards,