Mobile Options for AskAway Virtual Reference

With the expanding use of tablets and smart phones, increasing mobile options for patrons has become a priority for many post-secondary libraries. These mobile-friendly versions of online library services include simplified web design and page layouts optimized for viewing on mobile screens. Examples include simplified versions of home pages, search interfaces and chat-based reference services. While AskAway services are already designed to provide online reference services, the ability to expand and promote AskAway on mobile devices increases both the reach of the service and convenience for the patron. BC's post-secondary libraries are exploring how to provide mobile access to AskAway using a variety of methods. Here's a quick overview of the mobile AskAway options that are currently available.

1. AskAway Qwidget embedded on a simplified webpage

Libraries are providing mobile AskAway services by embedding a Qwidget on a simplified, mobile-optimized webpage. At present, this works with the newest version of the Qwidget code, as well as the older version that was recently replaced.  An example of this can be found via SFU's mobile library website, by clicking the "Reference and Research Help", then "Ask A Librarian". Other libraries that offer mobile AskAway via this method are: College of the Rockies, Langara College, and Vancouver Community College.

2. The AskAway fullscreen interface

The fullscreen AskAway interface is also being promoted and used as a mobile option, by linking to it from a mobile-optimized library webpage.  An example can be found at Kwantlen University's mobile library website, by clicking "Contact Us", then "Chat with a Librarian".

3. A mobile-optimized AskAway interface

Libraries are also providing mobile AskAway services by using an interface specifically meant for mobile chat. An example of this can be found via Vancouver Island University's mobile library website, by clicking the link for "AskAway Chat Research Help".

4. A pop-out version of the AskAway Qwidget

Another way that libraries are providing mobile access via a pop-out version of the Qwidget that opens up to a standalone window of its own. An example of this can be found at Alexander College's library website, by clicking the AskAway logo under "Ask A Question". If your institution is currently using one of these mobile AskAway techniques, or you are using other mobile methods, we'd love to hear from you about how it's going.

For a more detailed report on current mobile options for AskAway, download the full report here. Tammie