Training: Tips for Working with Multiple Patrons

Come Prepared                                 

  • Open the following pages in your browser:
    • LibraryH3lp
    • Campfire
    • Guest logins
    • Library policy pages
    • Chat monitoring tool
  • Set-up your browser(s) windows in a way that works efficiently for you
  • Make sure your sound is turned on
  • Practice using scripts or create some of your own


  • Use the Chat Monitoring Tool to see how busy your colleagues are
  • Communicate with colleagues in Campfire for advice or transfers
  • Read new questions as they come in – take duplicate or similar questions
  • Be honest and communicate – you’re handling several other questions at the same time
  • Ask the patron questions – it takes time for them to respond
  • Watch the patron indicators to see when your patrons have responded
  • Use scripts when appropriate to save time typing
  • Send links and/or copy-paste information when appropriate to save time typing
  • Take the patron to databases you know well
  • Refer local knowledge questions to the patron’s institution – provide contact information (e.g. a phone number for the reference desk)

Buying Time

  • Ask reference interview questions to buy yourself time
  • “I’ll see what resources are available for you – just a minute please”
  • Show the patron the appropriate research guide from their institution
  • Once you have a list of results, ask the patron to look it over while you help someone else