Frequently Asked Questions

What is AskAway?

AskAway is a chat service provided by post-secondary libraries across British Columbia and Yukon. It provides reference and other library assistance to learners, educators, and researchers in BC and Yukon.

What is chat reference?

Chat reference is a service through which learners can ask a question and receive a real-time response from library staff. Communication occurs via a "chat" interface, in which each participant can type messages and send them to the other participant's screen. Library staff can also send links to the learner, which may assist in explaining how to use library resources.

What kind of help is offered?

The help AskAway offers is similar to the help offered at library reference desks. We can assist you with finding materials for your research and in-depth questions. We are happy to brainstorm with you about search terms, and work with you to discover the information you need. We aim to supply answers to quick questions about library services, etc.

If you would like further assistance on a topic, we can help you find a subject specialist librarian at your library, or other services that your institution offers, such as writing help or peer tutors.

What sorts of questions can I ask?

AskAway is primarily designed to help learners find information or resources on a topic, find specific books, articles or other materials, find resources to assist with scholarly writing, citations, etc. and generally offer assistance with using the library or library materials, similar to help offered at a reference desk of a library.

Here are some examples of typical AskAway questions:
  • I need to write a paper on Bill Reid's The Raven and The First Men, but I do not know where to find good articles on art history topics.
  • How do I use Business Source Complete database? Can you help me with my search?
  • How do I cite class notes in APA style?
  • What is the difference between "scholarly" and "peer-reviewed" journal articles?
  • I am getting too many results when I use the library catalogue - can you help?

Who staffs AskAway?

AskAway is staffed by partner libraries LINK in BC and Yukon.

What about online privacy?

We do not collect any personal or identifying information of AskAway users. The reason is that BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act states personal information may not be stored on servers located in the United States without your permission. Information stored in the U.S. may be accessible to authorities under the USA Patriot Act "warrant-less searches" provisions. Transcripts of our sessions are stored on servers in the United States; therefore, to comply with BC law, we are not permitted to collect personal information such as your name, email address, phone numbers etc.

What are AskAway's vision and mission?

Province-wide collaborative virtual reference will:

  • Facilitate equitable access to quality information for all post-secondary learners.
  • Extend chat reference service to all British Columbia post-secondary libraries.
  • Provide post-secondary learners with reference assistance online at point of need.
  • Provide convenient, timely access to province-wide reference resources, beyond the restrictions of library buildings and opening hours.
  • Facilitate collaborative reference and referral.

Combining the power of libraries, people and technology to connect British Columbia's post-secondary learners, educators and researchers to the information they need anytime, anywhere.

AskAway is intended to provide research assistance to students, facutly, and staff at postsecondary institutions in British Columbia.

Want technical help? Further questions?

For technnical tips, see our Help page. For further questions, contact us.