WA Secretary of State Blogs

Ref22: When Teens Attack!

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, Training and Continuing Education | No Comments »


Ref22-Logo Did you miss out on the live Ref22 webinar last week? Never fear! All Ref22 sessions are archived and available on the website at Ref22: Archived Sessions.

Last week we had Jen Robinson from the Seattle Public Library talking about serving teens (and other “difficult” patrons) via chat. Check it out!

The September edition of Ref22 is proud to present, “When Teens Attack!: Tips for dealing with 12-year-olds and other difficult customers on chat reference” (presented in High-Definition PowerPoint).

Jen Robinson of The Seattle Public Library attempts to explain the reasons why teens (and tweens) are the way they are, and presents some clever ways to best help the under-18 set via online chat.

Virtual and physical reference librarians and any library staff that regularly serve teens will find this session of interest.

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WSL Updates for September 9, 2010

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 Posted in For Libraries, News, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | No Comments »


Volume 6, September 9, 2010 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:

1) APPLY FOR A POSITION ON THE LIBRARY COUNCIL OF WASHINGTON

2) REF22 PRESENTS CHAT REFERENCE WITH TEENAGERS

3) HANDS-ON EAUDIOBOOK ORIENTATION SESSIONS

4) IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO REGISTER FOR EARLY LEARNING SYMPOSIUM

5) MY SKILLS MY FUTURE

6) ALCTS RDA E-FORUM

7) YOURS, MINE, OURS – LEADERSHIP THROUGH COLLABORATION

8) FREE ONLINE TRAINING NEXT WEEK

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Ask-WA(tch): Stats, Kudos and Comments for Dec 2009

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | 2 Comments »


Ask-WA Statistics – December, 2009

December Survey Comments WordcloudDecember tends to be a slower month for Ask-WA, mainly because academic traffic drops off so sharply during the holiday breaks. In numbers:

  • Email questions received: 3319
  • Chat sessions requested: 3474
  • Chat sessions accepted: 2883
  • Qwidget requests (% of total): 791 (22.8%)

On a positive note, our answering percentage rose from its dangerously low 74% last month up to 83% in December, which is ideal. The best part is that this higher ratio is due to every cooperative maintaining a good ratio in December (as opposed to one group doing super-well and raising the rest up). Qwidget requests, as a percentage, rose from November to come back up to their average 20-25% level.

The word cloud highlights some of the most-used words left in survey comments throughout December. Some great words this month include: amazing, awesome, prompt, kind, helpful, useful, and wonderful.

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Ask-WA(tch): Stats, Kudos and Comments for Nov 2009

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | No Comments »


Ask-WA Statistics – November, 2009

November Survey Comments Wordcloud Ask-WA slowed down a bit in November compared to October, but since we were super-extra busy in October, that isn’t saying too much. November numbers were still well ahead of September, August, and July numbers, especially in terms of chat sessions requested. In numbers:

  • Email questions received: 3743
  • Chat sessions requested: 4912
  • Chat sessions accepted: 3645
  • Qwidget requests (% of total): 965 (19.6%)

As a cooperative we maintained an answering percentage of 74% for the month, which is down significantly from previous months, and falls just below our goal percentage of 75%. This is due to some drag in the public cooperative, but I’m sure we can dust ourselves off and bring the numbers back up! Chat continues to dominate email, though both services remain well-used. Qwidget traffic dropped this month to just under 20%, down from a fairly consistent 25% in previous months.

The word cloud highlights some of the most-used words left in survey comments throughout November. Some great words this month include: wonderful, excellent, fast, quick, great, impressed, and love.

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Ask-WA(tch): Stats, Kudos and Comments for Oct 2009

Monday, November 16th, 2009 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | No Comments »


October Survey Comments Wordcloud Ask-WA Statistics – October, 2009

Ask-WA picked up significantly in October, beating September and August in every category. Except Qwidget requests, which remained about even, percentage-wise. In numbers:

  • Email questions received: 4287
  • Chat sessions requested: 5303
  • Chat sessions accepted: 4343
  • Qwidget requests (% of total): 1282 (24.2%)

As a cooperative we maintained an answering percentage of 81.9% for the month, which is down nearly 5% from September (probably because of the increased traffic), but remains well over the goal rate of 75%. Keep up the good work! The email aspect of the service continues to enjoy plenty of traffic, though the chat service blossomed this month and beat email by over 1,000 questions. Qwidget traffic remains consistent at around 1/4th of the total chat traffic.

The word cloud highlights some of the most-used words left in survey comments throughout October. The larger the word, the more it was used, so it’s nice to be able to easily pick out (because of their size), words like: great, helpful, wonderful, excellent, useful, impressed, nice, easy, and love.

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Join Ask-WA for Free in 2010

Thursday, September 24th, 2009 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, Technology and Resources | No Comments »


AskWa_WSVRC Dear libraries of Washington State,

Are your users on the internet? I’m willing to bet that a lot of them are.

Do they use chat software to communicate? IM tools like ICQ and AIM have been around since 1996/1997 (respectively), and companies like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! all provide IM services. Chat and IM aren’t new, and lots of people use them to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues.

Chat and email are probably the two most-used methods for online communication.

So, can your users employ these methods to contact your library? To ask you questions? To tap into your expertise?

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Got a question? Try Ask-WA!

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 Posted in Articles, For the Public, News, Technology and Resources | 2 Comments »


AskWa_YLAO When you think of libraries, I bet you think of books. Don’t worry, everyone does. If you’re a library power-user, you might be aware of free internet access, computer use, and some fun programs. What you might not be aware of is that libraries have powerful information experts eagerly waiting for you to ask them your toughest questions.

Getting the best answers to  your questions just got a lot easier with Ask-WA. More than 60 Washington libraries, backed by an even larger network of libraries worldwide, have teamed up so that you can ask your questions anytime, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, and get great answers from a live librarian.

Are you a college student looking for that last-minute resource for your 8am paper? Librarians are available, even at 3am, to help you find the right resources and ace your course. Need help applying for jobs, finding good schools, or learning new skills? Ask-WA has you covered. Need to settle a bet? We’ll help. Want to find some good summer reading? We love recommending books!

Ask-WA connects you live to your librarians … whenever, wherever you need them. Try it now @ http://ask.wa.gov/.

Ask-WA Quality Tip: Updating Flash/Java/Web Browsers

Thursday, May 28th, 2009 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | 1 Comment »


If QuestionPoint seems more buggy than useful to you, it may be because certain settings on your computer are causing issues. Here are a few tips that may help improve your QuestionPoint experience.

Update Java and Flash

You can get the latest version of Java here: http://www.java.com/en/download/manual.jsp – and the latest version of Flash here: http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/. Keeping both of these updated will improve your QP performance (generally), and will help you get the most out of your web experiences in general. I’d suggest making sure these are up-to-date on whatever public access terminals you are offering as well, so that your patrons don’t have any problems using the service either.

Fix Your Browser (or Try A New One)

Most of you are probably using Internet Explorer, which is fine. I’d recommend using an iteration of IE7 (and NOT upgrading to IE8 quite yet), and following the set-up procedures (for chat only) listed in this document: http://www5.oclc.org/questionpoint/Chat_setup.pdf.

If IE isn’t working very well for you, you might consider trying QuestionPoint using Firefox (which is what I use and without any problems) or Google Chrome (which I have not used for QP but hey it’s worth a shot). I find that while IE requires some setup, Firefox works out of the box (as it were), which is nice.

No matter which internet browser you use, you generally have some fine-tuning options you might consider. For instance, deciding whether new pages open in windows or tabs could greatly improve your QP experience, depending on which you prefer. In Firefox I like to go in any de-select all my warning messages (which are just annoying pop-ups that get in my way), since I know I’m not engaging in any risky activity anyway. Similar options are available in whichever browser you choose to use, generally.

Check for Background Applications

If QuestionPoint seems to be running particularly slow, you might see what applications your computer has running in the background. Maybe your anti-virus program has chosen that moment to run a full scan of your machine. Maybe a desktop search program is in the middle of indexing your hard drive. The fewer things your computer has going on, the more resources it will have to run QuestionPoint smoothly and without error. You can usually see the resource hogs down in your bottom-right taskbar, and while you shouldn’t disable your anti-virus, you can certainly tell it to scan later, when you’re less busy.

Still Not Working Right?

If you feel like you’ve done everything right and you’re still having issues, don’t just put up with them. Call QP tech support and see if they can’t help you find a solution. They’re available 7a-9p EST at 800-848-5800, or you can email them at support@oclc.org. If you don’t need support, but want to leave them feedback (QP sucks, I love QP, omgqwidgetrolluplzkthx!, etc), you can use their feedback form located here: https://www3.oclc.org/app/questionpoint/comments/.

And as always, if you have any issues, you are always welcome to share them with me. I don’t have a magic wand (unfortunately), but you may find me to be an excellent commiserator. I am even helpful, occasionally.

Have your own tips for QuestionPoint success? Please share them in the comments!

Ask-WA Quality Tip: Resolution Codes

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | No Comments »


They appear simple, but within their murky depths lurks weird issues you may have never considered. Here’s a quick guide:

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.

Ask-WA: Tips & Tricks for Serving Multiple Patrons in Chat

Thursday, March 5th, 2009 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | No Comments »


monk pleasures by espresso marco.One of the benefits of being part of a large national cooperative is that we can share expertise not only within the state, but globally. And by share, of course, I mean that we can benefit from the hard work all the other states are doing while we sit around and …

Okay, so we’re working hard too.

Anyway, AskAway Best Practices meetings cover Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois virtual reference cooperatives, and they rotate monthly to cover an issue pertinent to VR. On February 19th they covered a great topic: “Tips & Tricks For Serving Multiple Patrons in Chat.” Presented by backup librarians Louise Green and John Dey, the subject is likened to keeping multiple dishes going in a kitchen and offers some excellent methods for dealing with multiple chat sessions at once, and in very clear terms.

Helping multiple patrons is an effective use of your time, especially when covering thosbe hours in the 24/7 cooperative. Even if you think you’re not interested in helping more than one patron at a time, I recommend checking out the session anyway; maybe it will change your mind!

You can find the session here: http://tinyurl.com/askawaytips-feb192009. The presentation by John and Louise begins at about the 23:40 mark.

If you’re interested in reaping more rewards from AskAway’s hard work (and who isn’t), you can check out some of their other Best Practices meeting sessions on their Best Practices wiki: http://askaway.pbwiki.com/Best+Practices. I think that, in general, Best Practices sessions are a great idea, and something we’ll likely start doing here in Washington as well. Stay tuned!

Thanks to Joy Schwarz for sharing this on the QP24/7ADVBOARD-L email list, and to the AskAway libraries (and John and Louise) for sharing their expertise. We’ll return the favor sometime, honest!