Introducing Threaded History!

Attention, texters!!
We are thrilled to announce a new threading feature in Ask a Librarian Texting which displays the most recent text interactions with a user’s phone number! Recent interactions between Ask a Librarian staff and the user are color-coded and even appear in the preview, and make it super-easy for you to determine the flow of help. We are certain that this will help all of us in better determining the needs of Ask a Librarian users in their moments of need to provide the excellent reference help and customer service they know and love.

Login to the Librarian Toolbox now to view the demo!

New AaL Demo: Creating Scripts & Bookmarks

Attention, staff!

  • Would you like to create your own scripts and bookmarks for your personal use inside the Agent Console?
  • Did you learn the steps during an Ask a Librarian workshop, but just can’t quite remember what to do?

As you grow with Ask a Librarian, no doubt you will find yourself retyping certain phrases, sentences, questions, or specific wordings time and time again.  Maybe there is just a word or two in an existing script that is otherwise brilliant (:]), and it would save you both time and energy to have your preferences already in place.  When you create your own scripts and URL bookmarks, you won’t lose the statewide ones found in the Account Default folders; those scripts and URLs will still be there.  Instead, what you will see is an additional folder with your name on it, right above the Account Default folder – and this folder will contain your private creations.  

To help with this, we’ve created a new demo to show you how to create your own scripts and bookmarks!  Just log into the Ask a Librarian Toolbox, click on the Practice/Training link on the left, and then click on Scripts and Bookmarks Demo in the Training Demo Videos section.  (Need help? Email me at

Well-written scripts offer a ton of benefits in virtual reference, especially with consistency in customer service and with saving time.  Customer-service-oriented scripts are especially vital in virtual reference because we don’t have some of the personal and social cues (gestures, inflection, tone of voice) that support in-person transactions.  Just like thoughtful greeting/welcome and closing messages in phone calls to your library establishes a basis for professionalism and courtesy, well-written scripts communicate in no uncertain terms that the user is welcomed rather than tolerated, and can even act as a “customer service” buffer in cases where you and the user have different communication styles.  

Enjoy your weekend!

Online Workshops

Site Coordinator Training: KnowledgeBase and Portal Page Editing11/30/20103:00 – 3:30 ETOn-Line
Hot Topics: Ask a Librarian Statistics12/01/20101:30 – 3:00 ETOn-Line
Online Resources Inside the Agent Console: Ask a Librarian Workshop12/08/20102:00 – 3:30 ETOn-Line
Ask a Librarian: Texting12/15/201010:00 – 11:00 ETOn-Line
Ask a Librarian E-mail Workshop01/14/201110:00 – 11:00 ETOn-Line
Ask a Librarian 1.5-Hour Refresher Training01/19/20112:00 – 3:30 ETOn-Line

To register, please click on the desired workshop link above, or visit

Announcement – Goodbye, ScreenSharing!

Because ScreenSharing – which we pay extra for – is so rarely utilized, and because page-pushing in the current InstantService software is so effective, ScreenSharing will be discontinued this Friday, October 1, 2010.   For us, this is great news, because not only does this move actively address one of the few software concerns you’ve had (and one of the more colorful in your staff surveys!), but it also allows everyone to focus on our exciting new texting service to be debuted to Ask a Librarian users on October 25.   We are excited to be moving forward in our journey to reach all Ask a Librarian users most effectively, and in their moments of need.

TGIF Tips – 9/3/2010, Issue 26

Ask a Librarian sees a lot of action in September. Whether users are settling into their homework or just setting into routines, it’s a fun month to field questions from a dynamic and diverse group, our awesome Florida residents. It can get a little hectic in there, though, if the patrons start rolling in faster than you can help them, so we wanted to give you a few tips on keeping cool when things start to get busy. 

1)  Remember that staff only see queues they are logged in for. You can only see those patrons for the desk(s) you’re logged into.  Staff who logged into Collaborative will not be able to see any patrons that are entering or waiting in the Academic queue.  Staff who logged into the Academic Desk will not be able to see any patrons in the Collaborative Desk queue.  [This is also how Local Desk works in the first place – why you only receive your own patrons when logged into your Local Desk.]  They will not know there are waiters unless you tell them. Which leads us to…

2)  Send a shout-out to the Agent Room.  You know, it’s that large white area on the lower-left. Some days it’s stark, white, silent. Other days, it’s chock-full of questions, answers, resource discussions, in-library analogies, chocolate hoarding tips. Lots of – er, colorful commentary. Use this space whenever you need help, because everyone signed into the software can view it. Just make sure you check the Alert box (above the “Send” button) which puts the text in red. Tell everyone at once that “Desk X needs help now – is anyone available?” Some may respond in private rather than on the agent room board, but you will get responses. Use the private instant-messaging as well, which you can do just by double-clicking on someone’s name, to ask directly for help.

3) Use the AskRef email listserv.  Sending an email to gets everyone involved and lets everyone participate in the solution. It’s also important because Ask a Librarian staff is not always available  hop on the desk, so this ensures that the waiting customers are more likely to get help from staff who see the emergency help needed message. The Help Desk email address is also important (since it goes to 4 of us),

4)  Know how to transfer a chat to someone else.  If you haven’t needed this before (or it’s been awhile), remember it’s always better to know how to use something before you actually need it. To transfer a chat:

 1.  Find an individual person who can accept the user.  You can contact other staff separately through private messaging or you can use the Agent Room to send a group chat message, such as “I have to leave – can anyone take over this chat?”  Remember that whoever you transfer to needs to be set to “Available” so the software will allow the transfer.   

2.   Tactfully inform the user that you aretransferring the chat to another librarian who will help them.

3.   With the chat still open, click on “Transfer”, located above the Customer Details pane in the Agent Console (next to “Dismiss” and “End”). 

4.   On the resulting pop-up, click the “Agent” tab to view the list of available staff.

5.  Select the individual you will be transferring the patron to and click “Transfer”.  The librarian you are transferring to will see a pop-up requesting permission for the transfer. 

Once he or she accepts (clicks Yes), the chat display/transcript area will show the following message: “Librarian X has entered the session.”  Both librarians are now in the chat, similar to a three-way phone call.   

6.  Click on “Leave” to exit the chat.


Introducing our new Spanish interface!!

We are excited to introduce Ask a Librarian’s new Spanish interface!

The page provides an interface for Spanish speakers to have questions answered in their native language by you!   The site offers users direct contact via email to their local library.  The portal also provides access to valuable information such as the About Us (Sobre Nosotros) and FAQ (Buscar Respuestas) sections, the “What are people asking now?” scrolling text, LSTA information, and other page components in the Spanish language.

If you have staff available to answer questions from your Spanish-speaking users and would like a Spanish interface for your library system, please contact us today.

Ask a Librarian would like to thank the following individuals for their unending assistance and patience in the translations for the new Spanish portal:

  • Tatiana Alvarez, St. Petersburg Public Library
  • Sandra Lopez, Hialeah Public Library
  • Maria Palacio, Lee County Public Library System
  • Jorge Perez, St. Petersburg College