WA Secretary of State Blogs

All Your NetLibrary Are Belong to EBSCO

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, News, Technology and Resources | Comments Off on All Your NetLibrary Are Belong to EBSCO

Evidently neither OCLC nor EBSCO have any problems with secrets leaking out from their companies, because this comes as a huge shock (and us just getting our big statewide NetLibrary thing going)! Basically it looks as though OCLC is moving away from owning/reselling content, and instead focusing more on providing access to other people’s content (a good move, I think).

Library Journal has a good paragraph regarding OCLC’s position in this:

“It’s a strategic repositioning from hosting and reselling content to building WorldCat out as a platform that libraries can use to manage and provide access to their entire collection,” including ebooks and articles, said OCLC VP Chip Nilges in an interview with LJ. It’s also “part of a broader effort to “provide comprehensive coverage” of ebooks in WorldCat,” said Nilges. “We have an agreement with Google Book Search to link to books in WorldCat; we have a similar agreement with Hathi Trust. We’re in hot pursuit of many different providers.”

EBSCO, meanwhile, has furthered their attempt at domination of the content market, also buying 15 vendor-owned databases that were once a part of FirstSearch.

Lots more info via the press release on PRWeb.

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 | Comments Off on Ask-WA Quality Tip: Resolution Codes

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: Quality Tips of the Week

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | Comments Off on Ask-WA: Quality Tips of the Week

Some tips of the week for staffing Ask-WA: Washington’s Statewide Virtual Reference Cooperative.

Tip #1: No such thing as anonymous follow-up

Please make sure that there is a way for the patron’s library (even if that is you) to follow-up before you close a session and before you code for follow-up. Even when patrons submit an email address with their question, it is worth checking to make sure that is the correct address at which they would like to be contacted. Many patrons, especially those coming through the Qwidget, do not submit their email addresses at all when they ask their questions. If you are planning on coding a question for follow-up, ask the patron for their email address before the session ends so that follow-up will, in fact, be possible.

Tip #2: Don’t let your descriptive nature get the best of you

At the end of a session you have the opportunity to add descriptive codes. This is like cataloguing for questions, and something about it calls out to your inner librarian nature. I know, I feel it too, like a siren’s call saying “Come organize me.” The thing is, you should really only add descriptive codes to questions from YOUR patrons. Every library uses different descriptive codes differently, and it is up to the patron’s library, every time, to decide which codes are appropriate. You may, of course, continue to add descriptive codes for sessions from your own patrons. To fill the chasm left by not describing other sessions, I recommend taking up water colors, or perhaps writing some nice haiku.

Tip #3: “I need closure!”

What goes for tip #2 goes for tip #3 as well; please don’t close questions on your question list unless they are questions from YOUR patrons. By closing them you are hindering that patron’s library’s question review process. I know, I know, you can’t stand the clutter and really, really want to keep things tidy and neat. Fear not, for you can simply make it so that those finished sessions from other patron’s libraries no longer show up in your libraries “Active” questions list. QuestionPoint explains how over on their blog (section 1.1): http://questionpoint.blogs.com/questionpoint_247_referen/2007/09/maintenance-ins.html.

Now you’ll just have to figure out what to do with all that extra space!

If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to discuss them on the Ask-WA email list, leave some comments, or you can always shoot me an email. I’ll get back to you just as soon as I finish this latest lyric poem on the life and death of the reference interview.

QuestionPoint Trainings for Ask-WA (and a Survey)

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | Comments Off on QuestionPoint Trainings for Ask-WA (and a Survey)

Over the last two weeks we had some very successful QuestionPoint training sessions online using Wimba software. At least, I’d like to think they were very successful. Thanks to everyone who attended the sessions; I enjoyed your great questions and hope the trainings were useful and worthwhile.

If you attended either (or both) of the trainings, PLEASE fill out the survey linked below. It should take you about 10 minutes and will be immensely helpful for me, both for statistical purposes and for planning future trainings to your needs.

QP Training Survey: http://tinyurl.com/qptrainsurvey

If you know someone who attended these trainings but is not on the Ask-WA email list and doesn’t read this blog, please forward this along to them so they may complete the survey.

If you didn’t make the live training sessions, below are links to the archived sessions. After clicking the link, select “Participant Login”, type in WA_TrainingRoom1 for the room and whatever you like for your name. If you haven’t run the Wimba wizard on your computer yet, you should do so before trying to view the archived session. If you have already run the wizard, there is a link below the wizard button (about 2 inches down) allowing you to skip the process.

QuestionPoint Training #1 (Wimba Archived Session):


QuestionPoint Training #2 (Wimba Archived Sessions):


If you have any thoughts or questions, or if you would like to suggest any material for future trainings, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.