Frequently Asked Questions

What is AskAway?

AskAway is a library chat service maintained by the BC Electronic Library Network and post-secondary libraries across British Columbia and Yukon. It provides research and 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 live chat.

What sorts of questions can I ask?

The help AskAway offers is similar to the help offered at library reference desks.

On AskAway, we can help with:

  • research for your assignments
  • brainstorming keywords
  • accessing print and electronic materials
  • evaluating sources
  • navigating databases
  • citing sources
  • and other library-related topics!

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?

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.

Who staffs AskAway?

AskAway is staffed by partner libraries in BC and Yukon.

What about online privacy?

To learn more about your privacy when using AskAway, please see AskAway Privacy Notices.

What are AskAway's vision and mission?

Province-wide collaborative chat 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.