Update for March 18, 2009

In this update:
AA News: AskAway Traffic Up 95% Over Last Year! | AskAway Adds Value Toolkit Now Available | Software Selection Committee | An AA Success Story | Jing Video Tutorials | Joint AA/eHLBC Brown Bag | New Service-wide Scripts Available
How do I… Cope with increased traffic?
AA FAQs: Which Resolution/Descriptive Codes do I use?
AA Stats: Reaching New Audiences
Absolutely Amazing Patron Feedback

AA News:
AA Traffic is Up 95% Over Last Year!
Thanks to the proliferation of Qwidgets on library websites, AA traffic has almost doubled over this time last year. QuestionPoint Qwidgets are mini-chat boxes that libraries can place anywhere on their website, putting AA right where patrons need it on subject guides or even inside the catalogue. Libraries using Qwidgets have seen a sharp increase in their patron calls to the service, some as much as 8 times the traffic! For more statistics, see About the Qwidget on the Portal:
AskAway Adds Value Toolkit Now Available
The Adds Value Toolkit has been created with the needs of library administrators in mind. It provides information and data about how AskAway adds value to libraries and the BC post-secondary system. Sections include AskAway Mission & Values, Deliverables, Strategic Alignment, and Future Developments. The Toolkit is a fluid entity, with new material being added as it becomes available. If you have any suggestions for additions or changes, please let us know! The toolkit is available on the Portal:
Software Selection Committee
The Public & Post-secondary AskAway Software Selection Committee has begun its work in anticipation of the QP license end-date in July 2009. The committee will conduct a full review of available virtual reference software candidates, and will present a recommendation to the Public & Post-secondary Advisory Committees by May 2009. Find out more about the committee here:
An AA Success Story
The following patron comment stood out from the crowd this past month:

"This was one of the best and most useful tools for the library that I have ever used! [The librarian] was a super help and saw me through the whole process of finding references who had cited a paper I was working with. She helped me search through 2 databases (one of which I didn't even know existed) and was very helpful and friendly!"

The librarian that helped this patron was thrilled to receive this feedback:

“Thank you for sending that! It has made my day! I remember that question because it was very satisfying to answer and I had a chance to use Web of Science which we do not have access to here. The student wanted to find 2 studies that cited the study she was using and so I showed her how to use Web of Science. It worked so well that I told her that her prof had probably designed the assignment so the students would discover Web of Science. I am glad she found the service so useful and it was good of her to send in such nice feedback.”

A fantastic example of an AskAwayer making a student feel great about the library!
Jing Video Tutorials
Richard Baer and Niki Baumann have created instructions for AskAway service providers who wish to create short instructional videos to send to patrons via chat. Using Jing open-source technology and a Screencast.com account, videos are quick to create and upload, with an instant link to the video that service providers can send to the patron. Videos can be stored and used by other service providers. Patrons are already excited about this feature:

“It's so nice how screenshots and videos can be used by the librarian to help us find websites, etc. It's saves so much time by not having to try to explain everything in writing!”

Find out more about Jing Videos on the Portal:
Joint eHLBC/AskAway Brown Bag a Success!
The first webinar offered jointly by eHLBC and AskAway was a great success, with 19 attendees from the health and post-secondary sectors. Niki Baumann presented on the Evidence-Based Medicine Reviews (EBMR) database. A link to the recording of the presentation is available here:
If you have an idea for a presentation you’d like to see or offer, please contact Niki: nikib@eln.bc.ca or Sunni: sunnin@eln.bc.ca

New Service-wide Scripts Available

Two new scripts have been added at the suggestion of service providers; they are available in the Scripts tab of the chat monitor for use during your sessions:

Begin – Tips for Patron
While I am reading your question, here are some things to keep in mind for our session...You do not need to take notes because when you exit the session, you may provide an e-mail address and request the transcript to be emailed to you. Please do not provide your contact information, name or other identifying information during the session - instead ask for the librarian's contact information.

Problem – Ending Session
This service is intended to help you with library related questions. As your question does not appear to be related to library use, I'm ending this session now. You are welcome to come back and use the AskAway service if you have a library related question.

A complete list of scripts is available on the Scripts & URL tab of the Portal:
AA FAQs: Which Resolution/Descriptive Codes do I use?
When closing a session, you’ll be asked to choose a Resolution code and Descriptive codes to describe the call. Here’s some things to bear in mind when choosing codes:
• Resolution Codes: Only use the Answered, Lost Call or Practise codes, even if you feel like one of the ‘Follow-Up’ codes is more appropriate. Using either of the Follow-Up codes means the question will not count as a statistic, as it will be left ‘open’ in the QP software!
• The Descriptive codes are created and controlled by QP, and so are not very useful to us. At a minimum please indicate whether the question was Directional, Ready Reference or Reference, and feel free to use any other codes you wish. A full description of these codes is available here:
How Do I…Cope With Increased Traffic?
Remember: unlike at a traditional reference desk, our patrons have no way of knowing how busy we are – they cannot see how many patrons you are helping already, or how many service providers are currently staffing.
All patrons should be picked up within 60 seconds if possible. Although the temptation is to give preference to patrons from your own institution, when the service is busy this will simply frustrate patrons who are waiting in the queue.
When the service is busy, it becomes necessary for everyone to pick up multiple patrons. If you are uncomfortable helping more than one patron at a time, remember picking up additional patrons doesn’t mean you have to help them right away; immediately send the patron the Begin – Swamped script to let them know you are busy and give them other options:

“Hello, and welcome to AskAway. Unfortunately, we're really busy right now, and are currently working on questions we received before your call. Would you like to wait until we can help you, or would you prefer to come back later, or send your question by email? http://www.eln.bc.ca/askaway/swamped.html

Other strategies for dealing with multiple patrons:
• Triage: deal with the easy questions first
• Give the patron something to look at while they are waiting: e.g. send them a subject guide page to begin with
• Be honest about how many other patrons you are helping; let them know it might take you a while to get back to them
• Get familiar with the available scripts – they can save you a lot of time. A complete list of the scripts is available on the Portal: http://www.eln.bc.ca/askaway/index.php?page=scripts
• Use IM to ask if you can transfer calls to other service providers as they become less busy. A review of transferring calls is available here: http://www.screencast.com/t/RPmhE0aREqW
AA Stats: Reaching new audiences
AskAway patron exit survey results for 2008 show that 41% of patrons had never used AskAway before. This suggests that there were just over 3500 new users last year, an impressive number of patrons who discovered AskAway for the first time!
For more exit survey results, and for statistics up until including February 2009, see the For Local Administrators tab of the Portal:
Absolutely Amazing Patron Feedback
Patron responses to the question “Why did you chose to use AskAway?”:
• to try something new
• I'm not comfortable with confrontation
• It was just there, thought i would try it out.
• I needed an quick answer and calling you was the first thing that popped in my mind.
• it popped up
• i was sick not able phone
• I needed help right away, and didn't want to have to leave my office to talk with someone in person.
• I was searching at home because my daughter was asleep
• At home, too lazy to go to library, plus it's getting late.
• I was having zero luck finding information on my research topic.
• I thought it would be just as easy to use the AskAway button as it woudl have been to call down to the library.
• I prefer the speed of their searching ability compared to my own
• asking an expert saved a bunch of time, thank you
• Its a GREAT service! so much easier to talk to someone who is LIVING
Patron comments about AskAway…
“I stole a bookmark from the library and then realized it could help me” [Selkirk College student]
“You're amazing! I don't know any students who have heard of Ask Away besides me ... you need to get the word out more. Have librarians make a speech at the beginning of every intro level class or something!”
“I just wanted to say thank you to whoever was helping me find the information I was looking for. The person was very professional and extremely helpful by offering alternatives to me and providing the links that I needed to visit to find the information. I am honestly impressed with my experience and will be recommending the AskAway option to my students.” [Douglas College faculty]
“Because we live in an isolated community, the AskAway resource is essential to my student's research. I am glad it is available for all of us.” [NIC Faculty]
“Oh my god, this service is amazing. The librarian was very kind and very thorough on all aspects of the question I asked. I am glad that we have this type of online library service available. Our government should come up with more services like this.”
Want to know what YOUR patrons are saying about AskAway? Results from the Patron Exit Survey are available on the Portal, sorted by institution:
Questions about this update or suggestions for future ones? Let me know!