learning center

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.  

Training Opportunities


AskUsNow! offers three types of trainings to suit your needs:

New Staff Training to get new folks trained and available to provide service on AskUsNow!

Developing Relationships with our Customers - setting the stage

To build a good rapport with your customer, start with a welcoming atmosphere!

Customer Unresponsiveness

When customers log onto chat with a question and then seem to disappear, what is actually going on?

Like ghosts seemingly spirited away after a brief glimpse, we have customers who flit away after taking the time to sign onto chat.  There can be various reasons for why this happens:

Tone and Type

In chat, our voice can easily resound through with the conversation we have with our customers. Our friendly assistance denotes a partnership with our customers.

Search Strategies Revisited

Spring-boarding from last week's Quality Tip about information literacy, we've chosen to focus on search strategies for today's tip. We're hoping this is an opportunity for us all to review our habits. We all have some unconscious methods; the old stand-by's and reliable methods and resources that work well in most cases. But there are a few ideas that may help you improve how you search, and how you can bring your customer in on the process:

Talking about Information Literacy

Not too long ago, in the dark pre-Web and html days, libraries had a somewhat contained grasp of carefully selected sources around their desks.  These tools provided the reference librarians and staff with information from well-worn materials at their fingertips.  Finding "the answer" to questions, such as who won the World Series in 1978, the highest peak in the U.S., which refrigerator is the best on the market, or what Nikola Tesla invented were often organized in a Ready Reference collection, as well as available to check out through almanacs and encyclopedias.  Some materials floated over to the large Xerox machines as dimes were fed in and pages were copied.  Earnest librarians amazed patrons when they found reputable articles through the library's in-print journals and databases.

When you have to --- gracefully --- end your shift

Most of us are so busy with our library work that we sit down a minute or two before our shift is to begin, take a breath, bring up our favorite browser and launch chat.  Before we know it, that hour is up and we're off to our next duty.

Once in a while you might see the clock come full swing but realize the patron's question is not completely answered.  Looking at your calendar, you realize you have to be on the desk or in a meeting or worse, that your library is closing, and a sense of panic flares up.  What do you do?

Overcoming Uncertainty: "Can I answer THIS?"

Our ultimate goal is to pick up our patrons as quickly as possible while providing excellent assistance.  A genuinely welcoming greeting, given in a matter of just a few seconds, sets the tone for what can be a small but significant adventure together into the world of information. Through our need to find excellent information and solutions, we creatively tax our brains and benefit from these active, intellectual pursuits.

Answering the Tough Questions

As any virtual librarian will attest: not all questions can be answered online! As much as we wish it were the case, not everything can be found quickly and easily. 

So, what can we do?  We always want to consider options for immediately helping our customers, and we have some powerful tools right at our fingertips!

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