May 2011 Exemplary Reference Awards

The Quality Assurance Workgroup is happy to award the following transcripts for the May 2011 Exemplary Reference Awards. Transcripts were awarded in three categories: Best Detailed Chat, Best Brief Chat, and Best Teaching Chat.

The three winning transcripts are at:

Brief Exemplary Chat:
Cindy Jones, Santa Rosa County
Cindy used her librarian’s expertise to guide a patron in finding the link to have a book placed on reserve with her library card. Good interaction with a patron in navigating the patron’s home library website!

Detailed Exemplary Chat:
Hal Harmon, Sarasota County Libraries
Hal did a great job explaining different funding scholarship and grant databases and funding sources to this patron. Asked great questions and kept the conversation flowing nicely.

Teaching Exemplary Chat:
Marlyn Pethe, University of Tampa
Marlyn helped a student from a different college from her own with a better search strategy on the scholarly database, JStor. Marlyn’s strategy was successful and the student was grateful!

Congratulations to our winners!

Each month we receive numerous nominations for fantastic reference. Here are the other nominees:

Brief Chat:

Yossi G,    Everglades University
Greg S,    NOVA
Susan S ,   Hodges University
Kathleen C,    Tallahassee CC
Diana M,    Santa Fe College
Dan H,     ndian River State College
James P,     Miami Dade Public Library System
Bronwyn M,    Ask a Librarian Staff
Jill B,    Lee County
Laura C ,    Lee County
Charlyn H,    Citrus County
Andrew B,    Bartow Public
Rodica B ,    Broward County
Jessica M,    Palm Harbor
Jill B,    Lee County
Angela G,     Jacksonville PL
Candice p,    Miami Dade Public
Fawn V,    West Palm Beach
Kira,    Ask a Librarian Staff
Pat B.,    Saint Petersburg College
Matt T,    University of South Florida
Anthony V.,    Edison State
Dani L,    Palm Beach County
Kristy P,    FAU
Veronica Z,    Ask a Librarian Staff

Detailed Chat:

Elaine S., Indian River State College
Ursula B, Broward County
Eric, Jacksonville Public
Amanda, DWilderness Coast
Pammy H,  Oseola
Laura C., Lee County

Teaching Chat:

Charlyn, Citrus County
Mary C, North Miami
Bronwyn, Ask a Librarian

Show your statewide colleagues that you value the customer service they provide to your patrons and students with a nomination. You can nominate yourself or your co-workers sessions in the Ask a Librarian Toolbox at: or when closing a live chat session. A huge thanks to everyone for all their hard work on Ask a Librarian – without each of you, Ask a Librarian would not be a success.

Closed Sept. 4 and 5

This is a reminder that the statewide Ask a Librarian desks will be closed on Sunday, September 4 and Monday, September 5.  (You are welcome to staff local-only hours if your library is open.)


TBLC wishes you a safe holiday weekend!


February 2011 Exemplary Reference Awards

The Quality Assurance Workgroup is happy to award the following transcripts for the February 2011 Exemplary Reference Awards. Transcripts were awarded in three categories: Best Detailed Chat, Best Brief Chat, and Best Teaching Chat.

The three winning transcripts are at:


Brief Exemplary Chat:  Andrew Beman-Cavallaro, Bartow Public Library

Andrew B. assisted a patron who was beginning a project on modern slavery as a Human Rights issue. Andrew directed the patron to useful reliable websites. The patron appreciated the quick helpful website  resources including a definition of human rights from a free but quality encyclopedia of philosophy!  

Detailed Exemplary Chat:  Alicia Ellison, Hillsborough Community College

Alicia provided great customer service and excellent resources. Alicia was willing to follow up with further information for the patron on a challenging research question.

Teaching Exemplary Chat:  Laura Baas, State Library of Florida

Laura provided excellent support to a student trying to navigate online databases and locate authoritative websites. Laura had a lot of patience and stayed in close contact with the patron, helping with the intricate navigation of scholarly databases.


Congratulations to our winners!


Each month we receive numerous nominations for fantastic reference. Here are the other nominees:

Brief Chat:

Debora S, Palm Beach Atlantic
Catherine K, Valencia Community College
Greg S, Nova Southeastern University
Carla C, Miami Dade College
Susan S, Hodges University
Yossi G, Everglades University
Juan L, Ana G. Mendez University System
Christine B, Florida Gateway College
Reinee S, Goldstein FSU
Bronwyn M, Ask a Librarian
Peter, St Johns County
Mindy R, Palm Beach County
Angela G, Jacksonville PL
Anne C, Jacksonville PL
Lori L, Lee County
Jaime G, Ask a Librarian 
Tom M, Citrus County
Pammy H, Osceola County
Richard L, Nova Southeastern University
Sara G, University of Florida
Karen O, Suwannee River Public Library
Deborah M, State Library of Florida
Kira S, Ask a Librarian
Julio, Miami-Dade Public Library
Meg C, Goldstein FSU

Detailed Chat

April H, University of Florida
Sandra C, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library
Sharon R, Orange County Library System

Teaching Chat

Paula B, St. Petersburg College
Renee P, Ask a Librarian
Janet B, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library

Show your statewide colleagues that you value the customer service they provide to your patrons and students with a nomination. You can nominate yourself or your co-workers sessions in the Ask a Librarian Toolbox at: or when closing a live chat session.  A huge thanks to everyone for all their hard work on Ask a Librarian – without each of you, Ask a Librarian would not be a success.

refresher, e-books, texting, customer service webinars

Space is still available in the following Ask a Librarian workshops.  Please follow the corresponding link to reserve your spot in the webinar(s):

1.5-Hour Refresher: Ask a Librarian – 04/19/2011 10-11:30 am ET (webinar)

Hot Topics: E-Books and E-Readers Explained – 04/20/2011 1:30-3 pm ET (webinar)   

Site Coordinator Training: KnowledgeBase and Portal Page Editing – 05/02/2011 2-3 pm ET (webinar)

Texting: Ask a Librarian – 06/01/2011 10-11 am ET (webinar)  

Hot Topics: Customer Service Excellence, or How to Win an Exemplary Reference Award – 06/06/2011 1:30-3 pm ET (webinar)

March Madness Month – Fri., Mar. 25, 2011

** Note: Hey, you’re not seeing Librarlyn’s photo!  If you didn’t receive this in its more attractive email format earlier today, please email Traci at .


March Madness Month

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


WOMM Fun Facts:


AaL Day 2011, Keiser University in Jacksonville
AaL Day 2011, Keiser University in Jacksonville

If you’ve been with Ask a Librarian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard us brag about our incredible evening and weekend staff.  They are the Ask a Librarian Virtual Reference Providers, though sometimes – often on Monday mornings or before coffee – we refer to them as simply “the AaL interns”.  They are super reference busters and customer service providers extraordinaire, and their high standards ensure that your users get the help they need regardless of whether their libraries are burning the midnight oil. They staffed 325 hours on the Collaborative Desk last month alone, and they mean business!

In light of the high number of hours they staff the statewide desk, we thought it might be helpful to ask them to share a few of their favorite websites. Here’s what they shared:

Kira Smith: – In Scholar Preferences you can search for a library so that it will link to that library’s resources.  This is a big help when you can’t access a libraries databases but need to help one of their students. – A great source of instructional math and science videos with worked problems. –  More instructional videos but these pertain to very basic tech tasks like how to resize a picture or stop getting an email newsletter.

And just for fun… – Adds a piece of bacon to any website.

Bronwyn Main: – You can browse the MoMA’s collections and exhibits online without having to make the trip to New York City! A really stunning display of digital preservation and online presence. – Open. Access. Scholarly. Journals. Need I say more? – One stop shop for marketing information. This even has resources for non-profits like libraries. – Information about local, state, and national politicians, both incumbant and candidates. Project Vote Smart is not affiliated with any special interest group, political party or corporation. Their About Us page is truly inspirational from an organizational standpoint.

Renee Patterson: – Wolfram Alpha; A ‘computational’ search engine, this is one of my favorites when someone comes in with a math question.  Just enter the problem in WolframAlpha and voila!  The answer is given, often with steps included.  The site also goes well beyond math – with science, geographic info, country data, finance, nutrition, linguistics and more.   I find new options each time I visit – like the option to ‘compute the current value of a historical quantity of money.’ – IPL2; Part of the IPL’s collection development policy states that “The site should contribute current, accurate information about the topic. The source of the material should be trustworthy and the website should have affiliation with recognized authorities in the field.”  Searching through the IPL is a good filter to help find informative and usable sites quickly for those without access to database resources. – A one-stop shop for .gov data – what’s not to love?  Searching Medline, the Library of Congress, Census and other government information sources – all from one access point. – Wiki got such bad publicity years ago that many people miss out on a great resource.  At least in the wiki, sources are cited (or not) which isn’t the case for most general web sites.  The source citations and external links at the bottom may provide students with links to excellent primary source material they can use in their research.

Kay Ralston: – Florida Electronic Library; This site is a favorite, especially because it provides many of the same online databases to students who may be unable to access their own library’s databases, because of issues with passwords, and PINS etc. I think this is a great “stress” reliever, for students in a crunch, when that paper is due “tomorrow”. From the web site: “The Florida Electronic Library is a gateway to select Internet resources that offers access to comprehensive, accurate, and reliable information. Available resources include electronic magazines, newspapers, almanacs, encyclopedias, and books, providing information on topics such as current events, education, business, technology, and health issues.” – The Free Dictionary;  Often, a student or patron just needs a good definition, as a place to begin. The free dictionary provides more links (thesaurus, etc). Example: – Google Books ~ previews online; It’s so easy to search and locate keywords within the context of the page, and allows the user to preview portions of the text to gain information, and to see if it is a resource that would be helpful for further research. Example:  The keywords are highlighted, and there’s a search box to access more specific content within the book; and there’s a “Find in Library” link, that allows the user to locate the item in the nearest library (WorldCat, another favorite, offers Google Books Previews). – FamilySearch; The Genealogy database from the Mormon Church; search tools to help patrons who are researching records and family history; There’s lots of extra research assistance available, such as contact information, and learning resources. – … is a “How-To search engine, brings trust back into the equation by focusing on indexing only high-quality How-To’s, typically from well-known, recognized brand names or individuals. Many of these sources (often companies, government entities, or educational institutions) have other motives for providing information besides pure profits, and most have trusted, off-line brand name reputations to protect – which encourages them to focus on providing trustworthy and high-quality information.”

* bonus… a compilation of several free (mostly) Ready Reference:

Jaime Goldman: – The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has categorized, searchable links to free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals  This service covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals with the objective to cover all subjects and languages. There are now 6276 journals in the directory. Currently 2718 journals are searchable at article level. As of today 533818 articles are included in the DOAJ service. This is another great like besides the FEL when patrons cannot access their library’s research databases and online journals. – The Florida Digital Newspaper Library exists to provide access to the news and history of Florida. All of the over 1,000,000 pages of historic through current Florida newspapers in the Florida Digital Newspaper Library are openly and freely available with zoomable page images and full text. The Florida Digital Newspaper Library builds on the work done in microfilm within the Florida Newspaper Project<>. – BJ Pinchbeck’s Homework Helper: Great for those who do not have access to Live Homework Help, through their library, this page provides links and resources for a variety of both school and college topics. Includes help in Art/Music, Computer Science, English, foreign Languages, Health & P.E., Math, News, Recess, Reference, Science, Search Engines, Social Studies, and even a College Companion. – The Search Engine List:  When all else, fails, what search engine do you use?  This comprehensive list of search engines not only includes links to the numerous sites out there, but also provides a little background and description for each one.

I find that a lot of the homework help questions are for science projects or math equations.  Here are a few sites I’ve bookmarked for those special questions in math: – Wolfram|Alpha introduces a fundamentally new way to get knowledge and answers – not by searching the web, but by doing dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods. – MyAlgebra – A Free Algebra Problem Solver (another site that will solve algebra problems that you type in) – An online community of mathematicians who put together a comprehensive list of lessons and guides. Algebra, math homework solvers, lessons and free tutors online in areas that include: Pre-algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Physics. The free tutors have created solvers with work shown, written algebra lessons, all in the hope to help you solve your homework problems. There are even interactive solvers for algebra word problems as well as a community discussion/question board.

Happy Friday!

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 (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.