Register now for our Hot Topics: Gale Resources (FEL) Webinar!

Feeling lost? Get some tips and tricks!Hot Topics: Gale (FEL) Resource Tips and Tricks in Ask a Librarian

Tues., Dec. 6, 2-3 pm ET

Have you been utilizing the Gale resource (FEL) links in the Ask a Librarian agent console?  How about some tips and tricks for navigating through the databases and making your search strategies even more efficient?
 
Julie Pepera from Gale Cengage will cover the Gale resources available to you through the Florida Electronic Library. This session has been specially designed for the Ask A Librarian group to focus on using tools in the Gale resources to streamline chat reference questions. A variety of different subject areas and assisting patrons and students from different backgrounds will be discussed. 

   Click here to register today!  

March Madness Month – Wed., March 30

** Note: If you didn’t receive this in its more attractive 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!

When Ask a Librarian Day (February 22) was over this year, we didn’t want your enthusiasm and focus to stop there – we wanted to continue the increased promotion with our second annual March Madness Month. Like last year, we used the month of March to promote awareness of Ask a Librarian through interesting tidbits, tips on customer service in virtual reference, marketing suggestions, and fun service-oriented challenges to heighten enthusiasm & interest and encourage active participation among all member libraries.

The primary aim of this month’s campaign was to encourage you who staff Ask a Librarian to think about Ask a Librarian in different ways. We wanted to bring you out of the box a bit to reenergize your support of the incredible service available to all Florida residents. We know that increased motivation means increased Word-of-Mouth Marketing (WOMM) to your own colleagues and library users, and we were thrilled to see some of those ideas put to creative use! Thinking more about the benefits of Ask a Librarian makes it so much easier for you to share those observations and experiences with others.

And we must say… you did a fantastic job. We enjoyed spotlighting your own experiences and ideas for everyone statewide to see – in your own words – not only as a real marketing success story, but also because your own words reach out to your peers in a way that germinates enthusiasm like wildfire.  

Thank you for sharing your observations and experiences with us, and please keep spreading the word! 

To view blog posts, visit the Ask a Librarian blog at http://www.askalibrarian.org/blog. To view photos of Ask a Librarian Day and March Madness Month, visit the Ask a Librarian Flickr page at http://www.flickr.org/askalibrarian.   

 

 

 

Ask a Librarian Day 2011, Alachua County Library District poster display

   

“For Ask a Librarian Day, Jenny Diaz and Sylvia Ashwell put together a display using Ask a Librarian promotional materials including posters, Ask a Librarian business cards, and lanyards. We used a three panel blue feltboard for the display.  We wanted this to be a display that people could use in that they could take the Ask a Librarian items from the display. We placed this feltboard in the main lobby at Alachua County Library District Headquarters so that patrons could see it as they walked in. Extra promotional materials were placed in the lobby on the circulation desk and throughout the main floor of the library for people to use. This display received many positive comments from patrons and staff alike.  Lesly Galiana and Jennifer Kinser in the Youth Services department also created a bulletin board and promoted the service to our younger patrons and their parents.  Many patrons were excited to learn that they could chat with a librarian online or communicate with them via text, even when the library was closed.”

 

 

Lisa Finch, Alachua County Library District

 

 

 

Hey, don’t stop now!

 

You’ve done far too incredible a job not to keep on going.

Keep sharing the following talking points with everyone you meet:

  • 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.

March Madness Month – Mon., March 28

** Note: If you didn’t receive this in its more attractive 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, Hodges University

 

And the Winners are…

 

In Issue 11 of the March Madness Month series, we challenged you to take our Customer Service Question 3 Quiz – to tell us which option you’d choose in the below scenario and why.  This scenario deals with how your active participation during your shifts is so crucial for the success of Ask a Librarian, to ensure that staff are not overwhelmed on the desk and that statewide users receive the help they need. 

To refresh your memory, here is the original question and the 3 possible responses: 

You are scheduled to cover the statewide desk. During your shift, you preview a question that you are not sure how to answer; however, no one else is picking them up. Several others are on the desk. What do you do?

1.   Continue to research the question; maybe you’ll find eventually find the answer and be able to pick them up.

2.   Just let it be – others are on the desk, so surely someone else out there could be more helpful than you at this point.

 3.   Pick up the question. Let the user know that you aren’t quite familiar with that topic, but you will definitely see what you can find.

So which one would you choose?  Let’s preface this a bit by saying that if you’ve ever experienced a tiny moment of panic when previewing a user’s question, you’re weird. Just joking… seriously, all that really means is you’re human, like most of us on the desk. We all have areas of strength and those other (shh) areas, and that’s perfectly okay. In fact, we think it’s great. Remember that it’s not your all-consuming knowledge of every topic under the sun that makes you great at what you do. You definitely don’t want to leave someone waiting indefinitely because you’re unsure of your steps. Just pick them up and do the best you can! Use the Agent Room for reference stumpers, or the AskRef listserv. Remember that not every user needs that information pronto – always keep in mind the possibility of following-up by email so you can consult with your peers. We are all in the same exciting boat, and you are in the company of others who can help – those who participate in Ask a Librarian make up an incredible professional peer network, so you are quite literally never alone. 

And the Winning Responses are…

 
Jane DeBellis, Santa Rosa County Library System

“In the scenario given, I would select number 3.  If the question is difficult or tricky for a trained professional imagine what it seems like to the customer who had the guts to ask the question in the first place.  Oftentimes the question is not difficult as it first seems but needs to be clarified and broken apart to make it manageable both for yourself and the customer.  Only by taking the question and beginning the reference interview can you really assist the customer in meaningful manner. Option number 2 only gives AaL a bad reputation. Option number 1 allows you to learn something and perhaps hone your own skills but again does nothing to assist the customer unless you eventually pick-up the question. In option number 3 you assist the customer while at the same time learning something yourself about where information is available to help with the question in the future.”

Angela M. Falsey, Sarasota County Library System

“The answer of course is option 3. We are librarians–we are not supposed to know all the answers, but we are supposed to be able to figure out how to find the answers. Chatting with the patron will yield more detail and help you focus on what they really need–researching before picking up is a waste of time. And sometimes you know more than you think you do–maybe the patron just needs help choosing the right search terms. There’s no point in staffing the desk if you’re not going to pick up questions!”

Laura A.B. Cifelli, Lee County Library System

“I would pick up the question so the patron is served.  If the patron has been waiting, she (for the ease of answering this question, let’s assign gender) may be getting frustrated and I want her to know I’m here to help.  The reference interview is meant to clarify the question so what is typed may not exactly be what is needed.  As we work together, I may become more sure of myself or the patron may provide me with enough information that I know what direction to go in.  I can also establish a timeline.  The patron may not need the information during our session but the information I gather and the contact we make will allow me to do this question as a followup and email her later when I can do more research.  If I just let the question sit in queue, no one is served.  By tackling it, we all have a good experience.”

Congratulations to our winners!!!

We are truly proud of your incredible insight and standards for customer service. You make your library systems and us look great!

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 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!

 

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:

http://scholar.google.com/ – 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.

http://www.khanacademy.org/ – A great source of instructional math and science videos with worked problems.

 http://www.teachparentstech.org –  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…

http://bacolicio.us/ – Adds a piece of bacon to any website.

Bronwyn Main:

www.moma.org – 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.

www.openj-gate.com – Open. Access. Scholarly. Journals. Need I say more?

www.knowthis.com – One stop shop for marketing information. This even has resources for non-profits like libraries.

www.votesmart.org – 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:

www.wolframalpha.com – 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.’

www.ipl.org – 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.

www.usa.gov – 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.

www.wikipedia.org – 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:

http://flelibrary.org/ – 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.”

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ – 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: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/philosophy

http://books.google.com/ – 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: http://bit.ly/f771dv  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).

https://www.familysearch.org/ – 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.

http://www.findhow.com/ – … 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: http://www.socc.edu/library/pgs/databases/ready-reference.shtml

Jaime Goldman:

http://www.doaj.org/ – 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.

http://ufdc.ufl.edu/fdnl1 – 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<http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/flnews/>.

http://www.bjpinchbeck.com/ – BJ Pinchbeck’s Homework Helper: Great for those who do not have access to Live Homework Help, Tutor.com 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.

http://www.thesearchenginelist.com/ – 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:

http://www.wolframalpha.com/ – 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.

http://www.myalgebra.com/algebra_solver.aspx – MyAlgebra – A Free Algebra Problem Solver (another site that will solve algebra problems that you type in)

http://www.algebra.com/ – 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 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.

March Madness Month – Wed., Mar. 23

** Note: If you didn’t receive this in its more attractive 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, University of Central Florida staff
AaL Day 2011, University of Central Florida staff

Don’t you want to be one of the shining few at FLA (or your library system) with an awesome red Ask a Librarian book pack?  Sure you do. Take our latest Customer Service Quiz question below and let us know just how high your customer service standards are. Share those strong values with us, so that we can share them with your peers.

  
The Question 3 topic is extremely important because it is your active participation during your scheduled statewide shift that allows Ask a Librarian to be a successful collaborative effort. It is vital that you feel comfortable enough staffing the desk that you actively engage in chat and/or text message reference during your shift.  This is important not only for the users depending on you to help, but also for the librarians who are scheduled with you for that hour, who are depending on your active engagement throughout your scheduled shift.  Your balanced contribution is needed for true collaboration to take place. And because you represent your library system to all state staff and users, your active engagement sets an example that will reflect strongly and positively on Ask a Librarian, on your library system, and on you.
  
  
Customer Service Question 3 Quiz
 
You are scheduled to cover the statewide desk. During your shift, you preview a question that you are not sure how to answer; however, no one else is picking them up. Several others are on the desk. What do you do?
 

1.   Continue to research the question; maybe you’ll find eventually find the answer and be able to pick them up.

2.  Just let it be – others are on the desk, so surely someone else out there could be more helpful than you at this point.
  
3.  Pick up the question. Let the user know that you aren’t quite familiar with that topic, but you will definitely see what you can find.

  ~~~

  

What’s a book pack, you ask? Why, it’s a nifty red drawstring bag with a blue Ask a Librarian logo that promotes us with style and holds your book or sandwich at the same time.

Want one?  Send your response to Traci at avett@tblc.org  by 5 pm ET on Friday, March 25th.  Don’t forget to tell us which option you’d choose and why!!!!

==============================================================================
He Said, She Said: Excerpts from AaL Ambassador Challenge Participants
  
“The students, faculty and staff at Everglades University’s Boca Raton campus celebrated Ask a Librarian day with Ask a Librarian demos, snacks and giveaways. Many students were AMAZED at the service and how they can get reference help from their homes via chat, text message or email.
Our usage has increased tremendously!”
  
Yossi (Joseph) Gremillion, Everglades University, Boca Raton campus
===============================================================================

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.

 

March Madness Month, Mon. 3/21/2011

** Note: If you didn’t receive this in the much more attractive 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; Alachua County Library District Curious George

 



And the Winners are…

In Issue 6 of the March Madness Month series, we challenged you to take our Customer Service Question 2 Quiz – to tell us which option you’d choose in the below scenario and why. The scenario described highlights the uncertainty that can arise when users write things we’re not sure how to interpret, or if we’re unsure of the direction a so-far-harmless chat might be taking.

To refresh your memory, take a look at the original question and the 3 possible responses: 

 

 

 

While researching your user’s valid question, he or she has sent 2 or 3 statements that seem really off-topic or irrelevant. They’re not inappropriate, but you’re starting to wonder if they’re just wasting time. What do you do?

1. End the chat immediately… no use taking chances. If they have a real question, they will need to stick to the topic. 

2. Feel it out a bit… continue researching, but just be alert for any changes in direction.
 
3. Send the “Your IP has been captured” script to the user. Lets them know that unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated, just in case that’s where they’re headed.

 

Which one would you choose?  If you selected option 1 or 3, you’ll definitely want to work on being more flexible and patient while in chat; just like in your libraries, it’s important to avoid no-context snap judgments as much as possible. We know that some moments are easier than others – for example, when staff are posting Inappropriate IP address warnings in the Agent Room, and the next chat you pick up is a middle-school student with a childlike screen name and an unclear question, it’s probably natural to fight off a tiny bit of hypervigilance… but fight it off anyway, because you could be way off base. 

Option 2 is the best one because you want to avoid ending a chat prematurely. When in doubt, wait it out a bit. There could be any number of reasons for it. For example, given the lack of some of the visual social cues (such as a smile when a patron approaches the desk) in virtual reference, a bit of idle chit-chat might be a user’s way of making “small talk” in a virtual environment. For those no-question/no-direction users, there is a “no question” script that asks them if they’re interested in learning more about the AaL service. Be alert, but patient! Either way, if you later decide that the user has negative intentions, scripts from the “Inappropriate” folder will help you out; those other options are still there. But at least you are not misjudging someone who is coming to you for help. 

And the Winning Responses are…

Cheryl Callavini, Jacksonville Public Library:  “Number 2. Feel it out a bit… continue researching, but just be alert for any changes in direction.  There could be several reasons for a customer sending off-topic statements. They could be chatty, filling in the time while you are researching their answer, or their mind could be thinking/writing on topics all over the spectrum.  I would redirect them to the question at hand.  I’ve had a lot of experience on redirecting someone to get them back on course, with an ADD husband and daughter.”
 

Christa Fowler, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee:  “Option 2.  I try to not to make snap judgements based on only one or two responses to my questions. The patron may not have had a chance to think through their research process.  (A bit like walking into a store looking for a gift for someone, but we haven’t a clue what we’re looking for!) Sometimes I slow down, back up and avoid looking at the clock.” 

Kira Smith, Ask a Librarian Intern:  “I would select answer 2. Feel it out a bit…continue researching but just be alert for any changes in direction. One of my favorite scripts for this type of situation is, “I really want to help you get this assignment started.  Let’s get back to ….”. This way the patron can still have the question answered and feel good about using Ask A Librarian, even if a friend or sibling has done something inappropriate. It is a way to refocus the chat without alienating the patron. Sometimes patrons, especially young ones, are just testing the limits and you can set them without being overly harsh.” 

Natasha Godwin, Santa Rosa County Library System:  “At this point, it would be premature to either end the chat immediately or send the IP capture script. It is very possible that the researcher has one or more questions but is not sure how to express or phrase them. A quality reference interview will aid in determining what information the person is seeking or whether he or she is, in fact, “wasting time.””

Renee Patterson, Alachua County Library District & AaL Intern:  “Depending on the comments, I’d call them on it.  “Are you still interested in resources for <original topic>?  <Their irrelevant statement> doesn’t seem to be related.”  Usually this is where they’ll tell me their brother/sister/friend/dog grabbed the keyboard….  : ).”

 

~~~

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.

March Madness Month – Friday, March 18

** 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 Florida Keys CC, Melody and Eric
WOMM FUN FACT:

As you’ve heard us brag about time and again, Ask a Librarian is open 84 hours every week. Nice, isn’t it?  That 84-per-week figure comes from Ask a Librarian’s normal business hours of Sunday-Thursday, 10 am to midnight, and Friday-Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm ET. 

That’s impressive, sure. But things get even more exciting as you reconsider those numbers in further detail. For example, let’s take, say, 1 to 2 pm – this is counted as one Ask a Librarian business hour, or one hour we’re “open”. However, there are multiple libraries that hour… 3 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and even 5 on Wednesdays, just on the Collaborative Desk alone. And during the week, not only is the Collaborative Desk open and staffed by multiple libraries – between 10-4 there is also the Academic Desk. 

Are you with me so far?  This means that, just from 1-2 pm on Wednesdays alone, there are at least 9 libraries staffing the live desk (chat and text messaging) on average. That is not counting any of the numerous librarians who login to cover their own local desks – we’re still just talking about one hour, one day, statewide. That means at least 9 librarians are ready and able to help during just one hour of the total 84. The report in the email for this issue (if you didn’t receive it this morning, let me know!) shows the total number of hours staffed for Academic and Collaborative in black, just for the current week. Local hours are per-system and not included there. (The red hours are those needing help; hint, hint.) So while we are open that impressive 84 hours per week, there were 384 librarians ready and willing to help your library users on the statewide desks this week alone. One week. How about 2 weeks?  A month?  Last year there were 17,097 shifts on the state-wide schedule – not including “unassigned/help needed” shifts, not including local hours. 17,097!  You have to admit, that kind of system-level cooperation is a pretty neat thing.

  

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

  “We promoted Ask a Librarian by highlighting Ask a Librarian bookmarks and stickers.  The staff was shown how Ask a Librarian works from the “back side”.  All staff donned AAL lanyards for the event. [My Ambassador learned] how the questions are answered, and the focus on consistency.”  
 
– Marie Miller, The Art Institute of Tampa

~~~~

  When speaking to users, remember 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.

 

 

 

March Madness Month – Wed., March 16

** 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!



We love to hear from our librarians, anything from questions or comments to marketing ideas and “stories from the desk”.  Sometimes, we get stories from you that just give us goosebumps, they’re so good. Like this one, from Peter at St. John’s County Library.  Peter and his AaL Ambassador, Linda, teamed up for an incredible show of enthusiasm and promotion. If this isn’t an excellent and thoroughly unique example of Word-of-Mouth Marketing at its best, we don’t know what is.  

Check this out.

To see a photo of this, please visit our Flickr page!  

“Our AAL Ambassador, Linda Sorenson was able to put together a nice display at the front entrance of our Southeast Branch with the help of the promo items available through TBLC.  Peter and Linda both wore their AAL t-shirts and Linda sat in on a one hour desk.  Linda also went all out and had her face painted with question marks — she is one of the more highly visible staff members on the front lines and she was especially outstanding on AAL Day.  The library was also represented at the Marble Slab Creamery in St. Augustine where Linda helped scoop ice cream (again wearing her AAL t-shirt) and handed out lanyards to interested ice cream customers.”

 

Peter Washkevich, St. John’s County Public Library System

 

Awesome, isn’t it?  Yeah, we thought so, too. We hope they enjoy the Ask a Librarian book packs that are on their way to them right now. Oh, and Linda, if you need any help testing the ice cream next year, er… maybe I can help. Call me. Please. 

 

Visit our Flickr page to see the March Madness Month Challenge winning photo!

Jaime Goldman, Nova Southeastern University librarian & AaL intern, took this photo of Manny the Manatee in her library. You probably saw her spirited Big Mouth Billy photo in our last issue, and if you’ve visited the Ask a Librarian Flickr page lately, she’s got a few other fish in there, too. You might think to yourself that Jaime must work in a very… unusual… library. Well, she does! She works in Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center, and she’s got all her furless friends Ask(in’) a Librarian. Hi, Manny!  

What’s a book pack, you ask? Why, it’s a nifty red drawstring bag with a blue Ask a Librarian logo that promotes us with style and holds your book or sandwich at the same time.  Want one? Take the Question 2 Quiz – the deadline is 5 PM TOMORROW.  Remember to tell us what option you’d choose and why!!!!

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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.

March Madness Month – Mon., 3/14/2011

** 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!!!

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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.

March Madness Month – Fri, 3/11/2011

** 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!

 
 

 
 

Shakespeare Asks a Librarian, too, during March Madness Month at Brevard County Library
Shakespeare Asks a Librarian, too, during March Madness Month at Brevard County Library

 

 

WOMM FUN FACT:

Timeline of Ask a Librarian Hours

You probably already know that Ask a Librarian debuted in 2003, and that our service provisions and member libraries have increased significantly over the years.  You may even know that the Academic Desk didn’t come along until 2007.  But did you know that when Ask a Librarian first started out, the Collaborative Desk opened at noon?  Or that, at one point, Ask a Librarian stayed open until 10 pm every single Friday?  Here are a few snapshots-in-time for you to check out how Ask a Librarian has changed over time in finding the perfect hours for staying open to help your users.  Take a look at our charts and see the timeline in which our hours of service eventually found the perfect home, and don’t forget to take our newest Customer Service Quiz below.

Happy Friday!

Think you have what it takes to get raving comments like these from Ask a Librarian users?  Take the “Customer Service Quiz, Question 1” below for your chance to win an Ask a Librarian book pack. Don’t forget last week’s promotional photo contest for another chance to win!

Ask a Librarian Hours 2002-2005

 

 

 

 

 

Ask a Librarian Hours 2005-Present

 

 

 

 

 

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Who wants to win one of our cool new Ask a Librarian book packs? Our nifty new drawstring bags are red with a blue Ask a Librarian logo. Promote us with style, and hold your book or sandwich at the same time. 

Customer Service Quiz, Question 2: 

While researching your user’s valid question, he or she has sent 2 or 3 statements that seem really off-topic or irrelevant. They’re not inappropriate, but you’re starting to wonder if they’re just wasting time. What do you do? 

1.     End the chat immediately… no use taking chances. If they have a real question, they will need to stick to the topic.

2.     Feel it out a bit… continue researching, but just be alert for any changes in direction. 

3.     Send the “Your IP has been captured” script to the user. Lets them know that unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated, just in case that’s where they’re headed.

Tell us which option you’d choose and why.  The best 3 responses will receive a cool new Ask a Librarian book pack!  Email your response to Traci at avett@tblc.org by Thursday, March 17, 2011.

Last week’s winners will be announced soon!

~~~ 

 When speaking to users, remember 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.