** Note: If you didn’t receive this in email format earlier today, please email Traci at avett@tblc.org


March Madness Month

A month of surprising facts, informative highlights, and fun activities… all for the chance to brag about our incredible services!

AaL Day 2011, Alachua County Library District, Hello Jenny!WOMM Tip: Increasing Ask a Librarian visibility on your library’s website.

Every Ask a Librarian link, logo, and other graphic can net your library some serious numbers when they’re optimized to meet the needs of your users. Remember: Ask a Librarian is a service that helps your users directly, so it’s not just another resource – it’s a living, breathing virtual reference tool that serves to meet the needs of your users when they need help the most. And unless your staff or webpages let them know that virtual reference through Ask a Librarian is a direct-assistance option for them, they might not realize the extent to which Ask a Librarian could help them in an unexpected (or expected) situation.

Here’s what we mean. Say your library’s webpage boasts a nice collection of databases, and Ask a Librarian is included alphabetically in an ordered list. All of your resources are surely incredible ones – collections for history, or audiobooks, or consumer resources. And listing Ask a Librarian here is great, because it is telling them AaL is a resource that can help, but will they know that Ask a Librarian provides direct assistance until midnight 5 days a week, and until 5 pm the other two? Maybe they’re not having any luck whatsoever finding that history article or appliance ratings; would they intuit that another resource up or down that list exists to help them with exactly those searches? How about including a separate, perhaps larger or more-customized logo in your sidebar, or help pages, or contact pages, to reinforce the component of immediacy that makes Ask a Librarian services such a standout resource for them?

Aside from adding a link in other frames or pages, you might also think about changing or enlarging your current Ask a Librarian logo, or even placing different logo graphics on different pages to better match that page’s function or design. You’ll find several logos available for immediate use right on our website, or we can work with you if you have a different design or color scheme in mind. We also have a terrific collection of widgets, viewable here and here, that allow your library’s users to chat without leaving your website. Consider adding a logo or widget to your library’s database pages or catalog pages as well. Libraries that have done this experienced marked increase in Ask a Librarian usage (and their library’s statistics), all while ensuring that their high-traffic areas always have help visible and accessible for users & visitors.

It pays to market Ask a Librarian – for your library’s statistics, for diversity of services offered, and for the end user that makes it all so vital. As those who regularly staff the Ask a Librarian desks know, we get an awful lot of patrons that enter AaL with a subject like “please I need help!!”. They enter with a question, and leave with an answer (or peace of mind). And those happy users are your customers!

Want a new Ask a Librarian bag? Enter these MMM Challenges – the deadline is this Friday!!!


He Said, She Said: Excerpts from AaL Ambassador Challenge Participants

 “I printed out the AaL promotional flyers and bookmarks and created displays on both display tables that we have located at strategic spots: near the library’s auditorium where numerous community events take place and near the public elevators where patrons can browse while waiting. All of the Reference Librarians wore the large Ask a Librarian buttons while on the public Reference, Circulation, and Information Desks that day. Jeanne Taylor, a very “socially connected” Youth Services Librarian, sat in on the afternoon chat session and then went on Twitter with wonderful promotional tweets about the Ask a Librarian service. […] We are very grateful to Jeanne for serving as such an informative and enthusiastic ambassador. Jeanne said she learned a lot and she was eager to spread the word to promote this valuable service. […] She has already enthusiastically spread the word among fellow staff in the library. As the Youth Services staff engage in daily patron encounters, they will have accurate information to provide to parents, teachers, and students of all ages that will enable them to utilize this wonderful service for their study assignments and other informational needs.”

– Fawn Van Allen, West Palm Beach Public Library


When speaking to users, please keep in mind these important talking points:

  • If you ever need help when you’re not in our library, visit www.askalibrarian.org (or find the link on our library’s website).
  • Ask a Librarian is a website where you can go to get your questions answered by a real librarian.
  • Ask a Librarian is open for live chat and texting until midnight ET Sunday through Thursday, and until 5 p.m. ET Friday and Saturday.
  • You can use Ask a Librarian for free.
  • If Ask a Librarian isn’t open for chat or texting, you can always email your question, and your library’s staff will get back to you within 24 hours.