A student needs an article, so the chatting librarian finds it and sends it. Sounds great, right? Not if the librarian fails to use the resources from the student’s library.
In the session below, the chatting librarian sent a journal article to the student in a courteous and efficient manner, to the delight of the student. But, this is not the best approach when handling Cooperative sessions, as the session below illustrates:
Patron [from library ABC]: I was searching for the following article and couldn’t seem to find it [patron provides citation to article].Please help me. Thank you.
Librarian: Welcome to Ask a Librarian! This is John at [Library X]. We staff the service when your librarians are offline. I'm reading your question ... please hold on.
Librarian: Hi <patron’s name>
Librarian: I'll be glad to help with that. One moment please while I check ...
Librarian: I have the article and can send you the PDF after we disconnect here.
Librarian: Anything else we can do for you today?
Patron: Oh, thank you
Patron: that’s all for now. Thank you very much again.
Librarian: Glad to help. Just to be sure, is your email address [librarian verifies patron email address]
Patron: correct. thanks.
Librarian: OK, have a good evening!
Patron: you too!
Librarian: Thanks for using the Ask a Librarian chat reference service! Please contact us again if you have additional questions.
[Librarian ends chat session and codes Follow Up by Me, then sends PDF article from Library X database]
There is much to praise about this session. The librarian was very helpful, courteous and efficient. He verified the patron’s email address and asked a “final satisfaction” question. The student got what she needed right away and is a satisfied customer.
But, there are several issues with this session:
- Lack of reference conversation: the librarian should ascertain whether the student had tried to find the article online through the library’s databases. A surprising number of students aren’t sure how to find articles online.
- In this case, Library ABC (the student’s library) doesn’t actually subscribe to the journal nor is it available online through the library. By sending the item to the student, the librarian’s actions may give students at ABC an unrealistic expectation that the chat service can provide document delivery for items otherwise unavailable at ABC library, as well as circumventing the ILL process at ABC.
- Sending items from library X databases to non-X students (such as the student at ABC) may violate library X’s database license.
- The goal in assisting academic students is not to give them a quick answer, but rather to assist them in using the resources available at their library so that they can do the research themselves: see 24/7 Policies, Section 3.3: https://wiki.questionpoint.org/w/page/13839422/247-Policies#33AcademicvsPubliclibrarypatrons .
Recommended approach: The chatting librarian should assist the student in finding the article from the resources available from the student’s library. For journal articles, be sure and check if the journal is available through the local library (as part of a database, and/or by searching the catalog). If the local library does not have access to the requested item, the librarian can send the student information about the library's ILL service (found on the policy page) and instruct them on how to proceed with a request. See the 24/7 Policies, Section 3.5.1:
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