Institutional Queues: Review and Update

You may have noticed a larger number of queues popping up over the past couple of weeks, as institutional queues are set up at more and more libraries. We now have 14 libraries running institutional queues, and there may be more in the near future. As institutional queues are rapidly becoming a permanent fixture on AskAway, it may be worthwhile to review how institutional queues affect your shifts, and some tips on how to work with them.

How Institutional Queues Work

Institutional queues are like a separate chat stream, where patrons from a particular institution are sent to work with staff from their own libraries. If those staff are not available, the patrons are moved to the general queue where they can be seen by all AskAwayers.

  • If someone is staffing an institutional queue, patrons from that institution are directed to their queue immediately. They are not visible in the general AskAway queue.
    • If the patron is not picked up for 40 seconds, they are dropped into the general AskAway queue.
  • If no one is staffing the institutional queue, their patrons are sent immediately to the AskAway queue and experience no delay.
  • Patron’s don’t know when they’ve been moved from one queue to the other.
  • If you see a patron from another library's institutional queue, check whether an AskAwayer from their institution is logged in.
    • If so, that means the patron has already been waiting for 40 seconds, but their local service provider was too busy to pick them up. These patrons should be picked up as soon as possible.
    • If not, their institutional queue is closed, and they should be handled normally.
  • A patron’s queue shows up in the “Queue” field in the Chat Monitor. “BC Academic” is the general AskAway queue.

Selecting Queues when starting the Chat Monitor

When you start the Chat Monitor, you must select all queues (both checkboxes) in order to see all patrons. Patrons coming from queues that are not selected will be invisible to you. At present, staffing AskAway means you should be logged into 15 queues. If someone is logged into fewer than 15 queues, many AskAway patrons will be invisible to them. Please let them know in Campfire that they should check the Queues menu and make sure they’re fully logged in.

People staffing the Institutional Queue only

One benefit of having an institutional queue is having the option to monitor it outside of your AskAway staffing commitment, to work only with patrons from your library. To do so, you would open the Chat Monitor as normal, and select only your institution’s queue. When you look in the Librarians tab and see someone on just one queue, they are likely there outside of their AskAway commitment. They should not be expected to pick up AskAway questions, and will probably not log into Campfire. Please do not transfer chats to them without their permission.

Which libraries have institutional queues

Institutional queues are now active for the following libraries:

  • BCIT
  • Capilano University
  • Douglas College
  • Emily Carr University
  • KPU
  • Langara College
  • Northern Lights College
  • NWCC
  • Okanagan College
  • SFU
  • Thompson Rivers University
  • Trinity Western University
  • UBC
  • UVic

All libraries are now welcome to set up institutional queues at no additional cost, so there may be more in the near future. If you have any further questions or concerns about institutional queues, or if your library wishes to set one up, please contact the Admin Centre.