The QuestionPoint user group meeting was held on Monday, January 14 from 10:30 to Noon at the Philadelphia Free Library. Approximately 40 people attended the meeting. A special thank you to the Free Library for providing a lovely meeting room in this historic building!
Stewart Bodner (New York PL) and Joe Thompson (Maryland AskUsNow!), representing the QP User Council, opened the meeting shortly after 10:30 AM. After welcome and introductions, the members of the QuestionPoint User Council and 24/7 Reference Advisory Board were recognized.
I. QuestionPoint Update
Product team members Jeff Penka, Susan McGlamery and Paula Rumbaugh provided information on the following QuestionPoint news and features:
Qwidget, the QuestionPoint chat widget
For more information about the widget, which will be introduced in March, see http://questionpoint.blogs.com/questionpoint_247_referen/2008/01/introducing-qwi.html
Here is a prototype of what the widget currently looks like on the Patron side:
On the Librarian side, the Qwidget questions will appear in the chat interface in the same manner that a web-based chat session would appear. Qwidget sessions will be noted as such in the interface and in the Active Questions list.
Librarians will be able to configure how (or if) Qwidget will appear to their users, from the Institution Settings area in the Administration module.
Faster, lighter weight user experience:
As a result of behind-the-scenes work on the patron chat interface, the patron interface is now lighter, and thus faster. In addition, the next generation version of the patron interface will be changed to incorporate the features of Chat 2. With the chat on the left-hand side (see illustration below) and the inclusion of the Chat 2 patron preferences, the patron interface will now be universally accessible. These changes will be in place with the next software install, in March 2008.
With the next install, reports will be accessible in one location. This will create new and easier workflow for report creation and export.
24/7 Reference Update:
Currently there are about 1,430 libraries participating in the 24/7 Reference Cooperative. Minnesota is the newest statewide member (our 13th state!). Almost 350,000 chat sessions came into the Cooperative service in calendar year 2007, and of those the Cooperative librarians handled a little under 200,000 of them (with the QP back up staff handling the rest).
Early in February, QuestionPoint will debut the QuestionPoint wiki. The wiki will contain promotional ideas and success stories from QP libraries, ready reference resources, the 24/7 Reference Policies, and more.
II. Discussion on Social Networking:
Attendees discussed the various social networking sites where they have placed access to their virtual reference service. Sites discussed:
There was also discussion of the Libguides application in Facebook. Here are examples:
III. 24/7 Reference Best Practices
Best Practices for the 24/7 Reference Cooperative were briefly reviewed, specifically the top 10 Quality issues for 2007 [see http://questionpoint.blogs.com/questionpoint_247_referen/2008/01/2007-the-year-i.html]. The resolution codes, particularly the “Lost Call” resolution code, was discussed at length. The 24/7 Reference Advisory Board will be taking another look at this particular code.
IV. Questions and Discussion
Attendees had an opportunity to submit questions to the QP team at the meeting. Here are the questions, with answers:
1. How do you handle a colleague not picking up patrons while you are busy with one or more and there is a queue waiting from your own institution or state?
There are several ways to handle this. If you are busy helping a patron and you see a patron come in from your own library, then you can elect to pick up the second patron, especially if all the other librarians online are also busy. When picking up the second patron, go ahead and send the greeting message, then explain that it may be a few moments while you finish up with your first patron. This is especially recommended if you are almost finished with the first patron. We will publish tips on how to pick up a 2nd patron in the Quality Tips later this month.
On the other hand, if you are in the midst of your first chat session, you can leave the 2nd patron for another librarian to pick up. If it is a patron from your own queue, the other librarians in the Cooperative will wait 60 seconds before picking up (to give you a chance to pick up). After 60 seconds have elapsed, then this patron will be picked up by one of the other librarians online.
There are occasions when the other librarians online are not busy yet do not pick up, even after waiting 60 seconds. If you note this happening, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org noting the date, time (include the time zone), and circumstances. This will help us assure that all librarians are staffing appropriately for the Cooperative.
2. The fact that Question is an optional field so you don’t necessarily know before you pick up.
If you host your own chat form, please see the documentation at http://www.questionpoint.org/support/documentation/templates/requiringquestionfields.html#text_val, which describes how to make a field mandatory. If you or your IT staff follow these instructions for your chat form, you can ensure all your chat requests are received with the Question field completed.
If you have OCLC host your chat forms for you, just ask us to make the field required for your form. Members of the 24/7 Cooperative are encouraged to let us make the field required, and that is the default unless we are specifically asked to allow it to be optional.
3. Gettting a negative user survey when you’ve told them you will send further information. Could survey be delayed and done twice?
The survey can certainly be completed as many times as the patron wishes. When the additional information is sent, perhaps the librarian could ask the patron to complete the survey based on the information just sent.
We will, however, note the request to allow a delaying mechanism for the survey and enter it into our requests tracking system to be evaluated for a future release.
4. Is it possible to take questions via the Qwidget through e-mail (assuming no librarian is online) if the library uses QP for chat only? We don’t use QP for e-mail.
During your setup for the Qwidget, in the Administration module, you will have the option to have the question sent via e-mail when no one is monitoring. This function does not require that you use QuestionPoint e-mail; it is associated only with the Qwidget feature.
5. Has OCLC/QP released a hosted intake form that a QP institution can use for live chat only (we don’t do QP e-mail and we are getting spam in our chat).
Yes! OCLC does, indeed, offer hosted forms for chat. In fact, we encourage new users and users who are upgrading to the Flash-based chat to allow us to host their form. If you want to change to this model, please contact our support staff at email@example.com.
6. Suggestion: Have a setting that has only one sound when a patron replies. (The current setting dings repeatedly after the patron replies until librarian responds.)
Thank you for this suggestion, which we will log in our requests-tracking system. In the meantime, is it possible to send off a quick “stand by” script to stop the ding and give you time to finish what you are doing? Do others have suggestions for dealing with this?
7. Developing a communication method for librarians and users outside of QuestionPoint.
We’re a little unclear about this suggestion and would appreciate additional description. If “users” means patrons, there is a method to contact the patron without changing the status of a question. User the Answer button, then click on the Send Message button after typing in your message.
If you need a way to correspond with another librarian about the question, there is the Send Message to Librarian link on the Full Question page. This allows communication with the librarian previously handling the question/transcript.
However, if the request is for a different scenario, please contact us with more detail, or even respond here if you wish. We’ll track the request and evaluate for a later release.
8. Cobrowse often doesn’t work for me. Patron doesn’t find on their screen.
Please be sure that you have cleared your cache before logging into chat. It may be that the patron needs to do that, as well. Also remember that patrons must be using IE and Windows for cobrowse to work. If you still experience problems, contact our support staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if they are not able to resolve the issue for you, they can pass the problem on to product and development staff.
Thanks to all who attended our user group meeting in Philadelphia! We will be meeting at ALA Annual, in Anaheim, and also at the PLA conference, in Minneapolis. Stay tuned for details!