** 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!

March Madness Month 2011, Jaime Goldman, Nova Southeastern University and AaL intern. Big Mouth Billy Ask(s) a Librarian, too!

And the Winners are…

In Issue 4 of the March Madness Month series, we challenged you to take our Customer Service Question 1 Quiz – to tell us which option you’d choose in the below scenario and why. It’s an important scenario, because it highlights a common underlying issue in place when users experience the dreaded “login issue”.

Problem was, the top responses were so good, we had to award four winners instead of three. How’s that for customer service excellence? We’re so proud…

Here is the original question and the 3 possible responses:

A student trying to get into a database has incorrect login information. You look up login issues for that library, but cannot resolve the issue.  You give them contact information for their library (which is currently closed). Which of the following is the best response to send next?

1.   Good luck! Thank you for using Ask a Librarian; we hope you come again.

2.   In the meantime, I can try to help you using other resources. What information were you looking for?

3.   Well, if you would have started sooner, you could have contacted your library before they closed.

So which one would you choose?  If you selected option 2, give yourself a nice pat on the shoulder.  Option 1 is professional and friendly for a “Goodbye” script, but at this point in the chat, why would you want to say Goodbye?  Option 2 is the best answer because it’s important to remember that he or she needed to access that database for a reason. Always see if you can help them another way. Option 3 is… well, let’s just say that some things are always better left unsaid.

And the Winning Responses are…

Trudy Kelly, St. Petersburg College:

“The second response would be the best and only response, as I see it. The librarian can find something to help this student until he or she can contact their library to find out why he or she cannot get into the databases. The first response leaves the student without help and he or she will probably not use Ask a Librarian again. The third response is insulting. There may be a reason the student didn’t get to this assignment before this. It isn’t up to the librarian to make the student feel worse by pointing out the lateness in the request.  Again, the student will probably not use Ask a Librarian for help again. If the student doesn’t feel that the Ask a Librarian service was worth contacting it is possible that this may be shared with his or her friends.  This gives the Ask a Librarian service negative feedback which may turn people off using this wonderful, helpful service. The second response makes the student know that the librarian is there to help them and find information for the student to use.”

Renee Patterson, Alachua County Library District & AaL Intern:

“2. In the meantime, I can try to help you using other resources. What information were you looking for?”  They could still get a start on their research, even if they can’t log in to their library.  For general research, they may be able to access Academic OneFile and other resources from the Florida Electronic Library.  Government sites might also be helpful for some research – like the NIH or LOC. They could also do some initial research on Google scholar, to start building a list of articles to pull up from their library resources once they do have access.”

Susan Smith, Hodges University:

“Was that a trick question?  It is the most customer friendly option of the three…I would often go on to point out things that were freely available to this patron, such as the Florida Electronic Library, and internet sites that are authoritative and credible, such as government sites or known sites for whatever area they were trying to research.  I have even gone so far as to run searches inside our databases to find an article to get them started.”

Jackie Spiritas, Jacksonville Public Library:

“#2 is the best response in outlined situation: “In the meantime, I can try to help you using other resources. What information were you looking for?” This response introduces the student to other resources he or she may not know about. It is also likely to result in the student using Ask A Librarian again. Finally, the student will most likely tell other people about the positive experience. Word of Mouth Marketing is one of the essential components to maintaining awareness and increasing usage of AAL.”

Want a new Ask a Librarian bag? Take the Question 2 Quiz – the deadline is this Thursday.  Remember to tell us which option you’d choose and why!!!


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.