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 avett@tblc.org.)

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!

Text Messaging Update

Text Messaging was introduced by Ask a Librarian on October 25th with little fanfare for the users. While all of us, were training, creating scripts and otherwise preparing – we expected initial growth to be slow and did little promotion for this new service point, with the idea that the new year would hold new wisdom we’d gleaned from our first few months being live.

However- users are finding us!!!! We are so excited with our first month of service’s usage numbers. In November, we answered 566 text messages! Not bad for a new service. As one of the first statewide services offering collaborative Texting, you are really part of a historic step for libraries!

Best Practices Update

Last Friday, the SMS taskforce got together to discuss the first month. We realize there are a few bumps – but we are looking at how they can be fixed. One of the biggest issues seems to be “threading” – a user replying to a librarian and the answer being picked up by another librarian. When answering a user with a question or answer that would likely generate a response from the user, here are a few tips to help you:

  • Mark the reply “Follow-Up”, which is the check box just to the right of the Send button.  Follow-up questions and answers are located in a shared tab so others can see your history.  Follow-up includes not only what users texted but how librarians responded.
  • Be On the Lookout!  Many texters who return do so fairly soon, so watch the queue for your user returning by their phone number and/or library designation.
  • Be vocal when leaving the desk. If you have expectations or knowledge that may help others help a returning user, definitely share that. Letting others know the situation in the agent chat room may prevent confusion on a returning text and prevent other staff from reinventing the wheel.  Speaking up helps everyone, including the user.

More information on best practice patterns is emerging every day; in the meantime, these should definitely help us to acclimate to and excel in this exciting new world of text reference. The taskforce will be doing some in-depth analysis of texts and hopes to have additional best practices recommendations as we analyze the past month.

Do you have another tip or trick you have found useful? Please let us know!!

Promotion: Where are all these users coming from?

Ask a Librarian has added your local texting phone number to your customer portal page, widgets and mobile pages.


Libraries are also promoting texting to their users. Here are some examples, we have seen:

Another Effective Promotional Tool is a QR Code. Here are two examples codes. These codes are easily generated and can be used on everything from bookmarks to handouts to business cards.

There are several free QR code generators – I personally use http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

What are you planning at your library in 2011 to promote Ask a Librarian and Ask a Librarian Texting?

Steal this Blog post!

Hi blogmasters:

If you have a blog for your library, copy the below user-oriented text and paste it as an entry into your own library’s blog.  Go ahead – steal it.  We want you to.  You may wish to edit the text or add specific resources to spotlight or customize your own library’s services or user focus.  In this post, pay special attention to reservation and/or item delivery services to match your library’s own special policies.  Just don’t forget to add a hyperlink that takes them directly to your library’s local page!   

Have a great week – Traci

 

So you’ve just finished watching your favorite TV or news program, or listening to your favorite radio show.  For the last hour, they touted the brilliance of someone’s latest novel or nonfiction read.  The damage is done – your interest is piqued.  All you’re thinking now is, “I’ve got to read this book.” 

 You… and maybe just a few other people.  (Anyone remember Tickle-Me Elmo?)  Well, the first step is to head straight to your library’s catalog – either in-person or online – and see if you’ve beaten the rest of those viewers or listeners to the punch.  Your library may have anticipated the wave of heightened interest and ordered extra copies, so you may be able to stake your claim then and there.  But if not – if your library’s copies are already checked out – make sure you place a hold on that title.  Your library will put you on a waiting list just for that title.  As the items are returned, they are set aside for those next on the waiting list.  Your library will notify you as soon as your book is ready.  And if for some reason your library doesn’t own a copy of the book, don’t despair – your library’s Interlibrary Loan service may be able to borrow the book from another library system.     

Your library’s catalog lets you place holds – and sometimes even Interlibrary Loan requests – online from the convenience of your computer.  If you need help finding a book, placing a hold, or just getting more information on how to place an Interlibrary Loan request through your library, visit Ask a Librarian today and get live help from a real Florida librarian.  No matter what you’re looking for, we’ll help you find it.  

What can we help you with today?

Ask a Librarian provides Florida residents with live chat services with a real Florida librarian from 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday (ET), and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday (ET).  You can also send an e-mail your local library’s staff.

Steal this Blog Post!

Hi blogmasters:
If you have a blog for your library, copy the below user-oriented text and paste it as an entry into your own library’s blog.  Go ahead – steal it.  We want you to.  You may wish to edit the text or add specific resources to spotlight or customize your own library’s services or user focus.  Just don’t forget to add a hyperlink that takes them directly to your library’s local page!  
Have a good week,
Traci
 
======================

Everyone’s headed back to school – from first-time kindergartners to non-traditional college students, teachers and faculty, parents, and even your library’s friendly staff, no one is immune to the Back to School bug.  And every fall, when classes roll in, Ask a Librarian – Florida’s statewide virtual reference service – helps countless users find what they need to make a strong start.  Not sure what you need?  No problem!  We can help you find books on certain topics, books for specific ages, grades, or reading levels, books in different languages, print size, and other formats, and much more.  You tell us where you are or where you want to be, and we’ll help you locate the resources to get you on your way.  Librarians across Florida are standing by and ready to help you through live chat.  What are people asking?
 
My 3rd grade daughter has to do a book report. Can you recommend any books for her?
Need help finding a book for my history class! It needs to be about colonialism.
I am a teacher looking for books appropriate for 5th graders (not too easy; not too hard).
As an education major, how can I find age-specific books for children? Are there any resources to get me started?

 
Your library has tons of resources available, in print and online, to help everyone move to the head of the class.  No matter what you’re looking for, we’ll help you find it!
 
What can we help you with today?
 
Ask a Librarian provides Florida residents with live chat services with a real Florida librarian from 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday (ET), and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday (ET).  You can also send an e-mail your local library’s staff.

Hot Topics Workshop – Coming Soon!

The not-so secret tools, tips and tricks of the Ask a Librarian interns. How to provide assistance to statewide customers with grace and ease.

One of the most difficult tasks on Ask a Librarian is assisting users from institutions other than your own with “local” questions. Learn from the Ask a Librarian Interns Kira Smith and Renee Patterson, how to answer questions you didn’t think you could with relative ease. The interns will be joined by Traci Avet, the AAL Virtual Reference Coordinator and together they will take you through the resources, tips and tricks on helping users from institutions other than your own.

Register at:  http://www.tblc.org/ws_info.php?ws=1141

New Hot Topics Webinar: The not-so secret tools, tips and tricks of the Ask a Librarian interns. How to provide assistance to statewide customers with grace and ease

I am excited to announce a new hot topics workshop on July 20th from 1:30pm-3:30pm ET:

The not-so secret tools, tips and tricks of the Ask a Librarian interns. How to provide assistance to statewide customers with grace and ease

One of the most difficult tasks on Ask a Librarian is assisting users from institutions other than your own with “local” questions. Learn from the Ask a Librarian Interns Kira Smith and Renee Patterson, how to answer questions you didn’t think you could with relative ease. The interns will be joined by Traci Avet, the AAL Virtual Reference Coordinator and together they will take you through the resources, tips and tricks on helping users from institutions other than your own.

Register today at: http://www.tblc.org/ws_info.php?ws=1141