Alone or Short-Staffed on your Shift? How to Request Help

When you're working on AskAway, there should always be at least one other person on shift with you. If you find yourself alone or short-staffed, your colleagues and the Admin Centre are here to help. Below, you'll find the steps you can follow to request help as well as strategies to manage calls while you wait for help to arrive.

Working a daytime shift during the week?

  1. Check the Schedule. Which library should be staffing?
  2. If you're comfortable, contact the local coordinator and politely ask if someone is able to log on
    • Visit the library's Policy Page to find contact info for the local coordinator as well as a back-up phone number that you can try if the local coordinator is unavailable (scroll to bottom of policy page)
  3. If you're not comfortable contacting the library or you don't get a response from them, contact the Admin Centre by phone or email
  4. If no one is available and the service is overwhelmed with calls, use the Swamped button to request help from service providers
  5. Always let the Admin Centre know if an institution is missing so we can follow-up

Working an evening or weekend shift?

  1. Check the Schedule. Which library should be staffing?
  2. Send a quick message to the mailing list to let them know you're alone or short-staffed
    • We want to avoid broadcasting blame, so please send a message simply saying "I'm currently alone (or someone is missing) on my AskAway shift. Is anyone available to help?"
    • If you don't receive a response quickly, move to the next step
  3. If no one jumps on to help, give us a call or text (see Evenings & Weekends Emergency contact)
  4. If these steps don't work out and you're overwhelmed, send a Swamped message to all service providers using the Swamped button
  5. Always let the Admin Centre know if an institution is missing so we can follow-up

Strategies to manage calls while you wait for help to arrive

These strategies can help you manage calls while you wait for help to arrive:

  • Continue to pick up new patrons as quickly as you can - you can always use the Begin - Swamped script to manage their expectations
  • Be honest and communicate with the patron - let them know you're handling several other questions at the same time (the Chat - Busy script may come in handy)
  • Ask the patron questions to buy yourself time
  • Take them to resources and databases you know well
  • Refer! During busy times, you may not have time to give every patron the in-depth help you'd like to
  • For additional tips on handling multiple patrons and strategies for busy times, see the Tips for Handling Multiple Patrons training handout