We have just been advised by OCLC support staff that one of OCLC’s email mechanisms had a problem this morning July 23. Various email services at OCLC are experiencing delays. Unfortunately our QP email services are affected by this issue. We understand that while the underlying problem has already been corrected, it may take several hours for all queue’d up mail to get processed. We apologize for this delay!
QuestionPoint's live chat service remains unaffected by this email delay. We will post when we confirm that this delay has been fully corrected.
If you are in a position to choose which staff will work best on your chat service, there is a good way to assess the candidate’s aptitude for virtual reference. All QuestionPoint libraries have access to a practice queue, and you can use this to assess the skills of a potential chatting librarian. Here’s how Sandra Clark at the University of the West of England conducted such an assessment:
We ended up doing a chat on the practice queue with an experienced chat librarian posing as a customer. One of the test assessors sat with the candidates and the other with the ‘patron’ We used a common question (journals) with a bit of a twist as there was no e-copy for the year the patron wanted and the paper copy was in our store. We also had possible patron responses mapped out so we would respond to each candidate in a similar way.
To be as fair as possible, the assessors were looking for an aptitude for communicating effectively with customers through evidence of a good reference interview, showing a rapport with the patron and trying to teach rather than tell – we didn’t worry too much about the niceties of chat like using holding messages or a ‘has this completely answered your question?’ statement to conclude the chat as we can train these skills. Also having a staff member with the candidate meant we could start them off on the chat so that the test wasn’t about using the interface.
It worked quite well – I think we’ll use the format again.
How to use Practice Chat:
You can monitor the practice queue of your Subscription Group (BME) to practice your skills or try a new feature without accidentally accepting a real session. Those acting as Librarians in practice sessions should check the Monitor Practice Queue Only box below the queues list in the chat monitor and click Save. Practice Patrons should use the Chat Patron Practice Form, located on the My QuestionPoint page, left-hand side under “Quick Links”. Once you access the Chat Patron Practice Form, leave the Practice box (on the form) checked, then complete and submit the form. If you or someone else is monitoring your group's practice queue, your session begins. If no one is monitoring it, a message indicates that no one is available to chat. Transcripts for practice sessions are labelled "[Practice]" in the chat monitor and in QuestionPoint question lists. Practice sessions are not counted in QuestionPoint statistics.
Join us for a free webinar on August 14 at noon ET (UTC-4) for a timely discussion on transcript assessment, presented by Cynthia Johnson and Caitlin Plovnik (both of UC Irvine).
In this webinar, Cynthia and Caitlin will use actual chat transcripts (anonymized) to demonstrate "good" and "great" examples of how librarians ask open ended questions and engage with their online patrons to provide the best possible service and answers in the virtual reference environment. This session will be interactive with polls and time to discuss what makes certain reference interactions go from "good" to "great."
Title: Real Transcripts/Real Analysis: building blocks for online reference assessment and improvement
Date: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Time: Noon ET (UTC-4)
Presenters: Cynthia Johnson and Caitlin Plovnik, UC Irvine
This webinar is another in our series "Best Practices in Virtual Reference".
To register: go to this link and click the REGISTER button: