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 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.

See the following page for more information and guidelines for how to respond: Patrons in crisis

Patron needs to contact security

A patron may need to contact security to quickly deal with situations like noise complaints, smoke and fire alarms, theft, first-aid, and more.

  1. We cannot call campus security for them. 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.
  2. Use the Problem - Contact Security script to quickly respond:
    • "This sounds like a situation where you should contact Campus Security. I can help you find their contact number, but I can't call them for you. One moment while I look for their contact information..."

Patron is being rude or abusive

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

  1. Use the Problem - Rude script to give the patron an opportunity to change their behaviour and continue chatting:
    • "I would like to help you with your question, but you will need to demonstrate appropriate behaviour. We do not tolerate rude language from people who use AskAway. Would you like to continue this session or return at another time?"
  2. If the patron does not respond to the use of these scripts and continues to return with rude or abusive messages after you have ended the session, you have the option to block the patron for 24 hours using the red "block" button in the LibraryH3lp webclient. Before blocking the patron, please send them the Problem - Threats, Rude End Session script to let them know AskAway does not accept this kind of behaviour and that you will block them:
    • "Because you are continuing to abuse the service, I am terminating the chat. You are welcome to use AskAway later when you can be respectful."
  3. When you end the session, please apply the Inappropriate / Prank tag to your chat and report it to the Admin Centre.

Prank call

  1. Use the reference interview to determine if there is a legitimate information need.
  2. If you think you are dealing with a prank call, use the scripts to bring the call to a close quickly. For prank calls, we recommend the Problem - Prank script:
    • "This service is intended to help you with library related questions. Is this question related to your coursework or research? If not, I will close this session and you are welcome to return when you have a library related question."
  3. Calm, consistent use of the scripts to shut down the behaviour and not engaging or taking their comments personally will hopefully bring their chats to a quick end.​​
  4. If the patron does not respond to the use of scripts and continues to return with prank chats, you have the option to block the patron for 24 hours using the red "block" button in the LibraryH3lp webclient. Before blocking the patron, please send them the following message:
    • "Because you are continuing to abuse the service, I am terminating the chat. You are welcome to use AskAway later when you can be respectful."
  5. When you end a prank call, please apply the Inappropriate / Prank tag. This helps the Admin Centre track the number of prank calls.
  6. If a prankster comes to the service repeatedly, please report it to the Admin Centre.

Patron is not affiliated with a participating library

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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:
    • "Your question is beyond the scope of this service, which is intended to help post-secondary patrons with questions related to their research or coursework. Can I help you find contact information for your local public library?"