Unexpected Patrons

On AskAway, you may sometimes respond to patrons who have unexpected requests, behaviour, or support needs. The following information should help you work with them more smoothly.

If you have any questions or would like to report a session with an unexpected patron, please contact the Admin Centre.

Patron in crisis

On rare occasions, service providers may find themselves chatting with a patron in crisis. Crisis calls may contain threats of suicide or indications of abuse.

Please see the following page for more information and guidelines for how to respond:

Patron needs to contact security

We recommend that you help the patron find the appropriate contact information and inform them that they will need to make the call themselves for assistance. We cannot call campus security for them. Check out the Problem - Contact Security script that will make it easier to quickly deal with situations like noise complaints, smoke and fire alarms, theft, first-aid, and more.

Patron is being rude or abusive

You don't have to tolerate rude or abusive behavior from patrons. Scripts are available that can help you communicate this to patrons or bring the call to a close quickly.

Prank call

  1. With each patron, you should pick them up and use the reference interview to determine if there is a legitimate information need.
  2. If you think you are dealing with a prank call, you can use the scripts to bring the call to a close quickly.​​
    • For prank calls, we recommend the Problem - Prank script
    • Calm, consistent use of the scripts to shut the prankster down and not engaging or taking their comments personally will hopefully bring their calls to a quick end.
  3. When you end a prank call, please apply the Inappropriate / Prank descriptive tag to the call. This helps the Admin Centre track the number of prank calls.
  4. If a prankster comes to the service repeatedly, please let the Admin Centre know.

Notes on LibraryH3lp:

  • If the patron is returning continually during your shift and if you're comfortable doing so, try minimizing the chat (see screenshots) instead of closing it and make sure "Chat message sound" is turned off in your Preferences (see this FAQ for more info).
    • If you minimize the chat and turn off this sound notification, you and your colleagues won't be interrupted by a new incoming chat each time they return. At the end of your shift, make sure to end the chat and add the Inappropriate / Prank tag.
  • LibraryH3lp has a block feature in the webclient that allows service providers to block patrons by IP address. Generally, it's recommended that this feature not be used as an IP block could affect more than one patron and potentially an entire library. Currently, the block time is set to 1 minute.

Patron is not a post-secondary student

AskAway's primary mandate is to serve the students, faculty, and staff of BC's post-secondary institutions with their research or course-related questions. These patrons are our priority.

It's up to you whether or not you choose to help unaffiliated patrons. If you feel that helping them will not impact your ability to our primary patrons, and you wish to do so, please go ahead. It's always good to leave any patron with a good feeling about the library. If you are not able to assist an unaffiliated patron with their question, please make an effort to ensure the patron understands that their question is beyond the scope of our service. The Chat - Refer Public script may be helpful.