Last week I discussed tips for staffing the service during times when many students enter the queue at once. Many times, these students are accessing the service at school, either in the library or during a study period. Last week, we discussed the importance of finding out how long the student is able to be online with you, getting an email, and sending lists of resources. See http://questionpoint.blogs.com/questionpoint_247_referen/2009/03/quality-tip-surviving-and-thriving-during-busy-times.html for last week’s tip.
This week, we will focus more on specific resources and search strategies you can use with students during busy times:
1. Use the library policy page to gain access to the library's databases.
Most likely, the student is accessing the service through a location that has provided access to the library's subscription databases. The policy page will contain a link to the library’s databases, as well as a library card number or a username/password for the chatting librarian to use. After searching in a separate window to test out search terms for relevancy, you can suggest a particular database for the student to try, as well as specific search terms.
Here are some advantages to showing a patron the library databases:
· The student becomes aware of the authoritative resources offered by the local library.
· Database pages are unlikely to be blocked by school filters.
2. Use Credo Reference, found in the "Cooperative Resources" section of the My QuestionPoint homepage.
Any librarian in the 24/7 Reference Cooperative can use Credo to help their online patrons. The URLs can be pasted into the live chat session for the student to use. Credo provides a portal to a variety of reputable reference resources from 55 publishers, including text and images. See this previous posting to the QuestionPoint Blog for more information: http://questionpoint.blogs.com/questionpoint_247_referen/2008/03/quality-tip-cre.html
3. Use Google Books efficiently.
A search in books.google.com will often quickly yield easy-to-assimilate, authoritative information that directly answers the student's question. To use Google Books efficiently, try these advanced search strategies:
· Add subject headings to limit the search, particularly this one: subject:"juvenile nonfiction"
· Limit the search to "Limited Preview and Full View" or simply "Full View" to maximize the information that the student can use.
· Remember that the archives of many popular magazines have been made available in their entirety. You can limit your search to just "Magazines" in the "Content" section of the Advanced Book Search.
· To quickly direct the patron to a specific location in the page you're viewing, go to the Search box at the top of the right-hand sidebar of the page and type a phrase from the middle of a relevant sentence. The search result in the right-hand sidebar will then display the page number and a brief excerpt of the text that can be copied and pasted to the patron. For example:
The object of Hacky Sack was to keep the bag in the air, using the knees and the feet, without letting the bag touch the ground or the player's upper body. ...
4. Remember to check textbooks' websites.
If a student's question seems like it might be related to information in the student's textbook, ask the patron for the name of the textbook. The textbook website often has a study guide and other tutorials that may give the student the needed information.
5. Be aware that the sites you send might be blocked by school filters.
It is becoming increasingly common to hear students say that they cannot see a website we send to them because it was blocked by a school filter. If you analyze the content and judge it to be appropriate, you can try using the Google Cache or the Internet Archive to send the page from those resources instead.
Questions or comments about this topic? Comment below or email Susan McGlamery at firstname.lastname@example.org.