ANSWERED: If you’re not using this most of the time, you might want to review how you are helping people. You don’t have to stay on the line with them until their paper is written or their family tree thoroughly researched. You SHOULD spend the time, though, to identify why they came to us in the first place, and to identify resources to help them answer their question. For some questions, ANSWERED means just that; for others, it means “Here is some great stuff to get you started, if this seems helpful then I’ll leave you to look it over and you should come back if you need more help.”
FOLLOW-UP BY PATRON’S LIBRARY: When it’s clear to you that you are unable to answer the question sufficiently either due to a lack of resources or a lack of time, you should use this code. If you are going to code the question for follow-up, you should know this before you end the session, and you should make sure you have the patron’s email address. Even if they provided one initially, you should verify it before you end the session.
FOLLOW-UP BY ME: For the sake of simplicity, I’ll leave it at this: Don’t use this code.
LOST CALL: If you have the patron’s email address and something that looks like a question, then you should NOT use this code. Instead, you should code it for follow-up. If you don’t have an email address or anything that looks like a question, then you can use LOST CALL. If you had a chance to work with the patron before they were “lost”, though, you may consider using ANSWERED instead; again, only if there’s no email address for follow-up. You can help avoid losing calls by asking for an email address at the beginning of the session, just in case the patron gets disconnected.
The moral is this: If you have their email address, they’re never lost.
I hope this helps clarify resolution codes. It’s important that we’re all on the same page when we’re dealing with each other’s patrons. If in doubt, think about where the question goes. ANSWERED goes to their “active” list, which means they still get to review it; FOLLOW-UP goes to their “new” list, which means they WILL review it and fairly soon; LOST CALL automatically buries the question in the “closed” list so the patron library has to search the session out to even know it happened.
If I’ve further muddied the issue, then please feel free to contact me with your questions, or start a discussion here on the blog or on the Ask-WA email list.