Note: Although the concepts, features, and functions described are up to date, some illustrations do not reflect the latest logos and form capabilities.
This section describes what your patrons experience while using your Web-based reference service. Use this section to consider ways that your library can improve the experience for them.
- Acknowledgment email message for a patron's first question
- When they receive a response
- On your library's patron survey form
- In the Patron interface
The following are some suggestions for you to consider as you read this section:
- Find places on your library's Web site where links to your question form, chat form or both could be helpful to patrons.
- Identify other Web sites in your community that could link to your forms.
- Define instructions, graphics, or links that your library could add to its forms to make them easier to use.
- Decide what fields your question form should include to request information needed to provide effective service to your patrons.
- Customize the e-mail messages and acknowledgement screen that patrons receive about questions that they submit.
- Provide a patron survey form to gather information about your patrons' experiences with your library's Web-based reference service.
System requirements for patrons
The following table lists what patrons need and why they need it:
|patron need||in order to|
|A computer with an Internet connection, and
A Windows or Macintosh Web browser, such as Internet Explorer 8.0 or higher, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari (Mac)
|An email account||Receive responses sent to them through QuestionPoint.|
On your library's website
Forms for patrons
For its Web-based reference service, your library provides one or more of the following options on its Web site:
- A form that your patrons use to ask questions
- An email address configured to send questions into QuestionPoint
- A form they use to request chat sessions with librarians
- A Qwidget (QuestionPoint widget)
Your library may also have multiple forms to meet different patron needs. For example, the Library of Congress (LC) Hispanic division has forms in three languages:
By placing links to the forms where patrons may need assistance, your library can expand its assistance to patrons and increase the use of its Web-based reference service.
Your library can also encourage community groups and local government agencies to place links to the forms on their Web sites to provide your library's service to more people in your community.
Library of Congress examples
Some examples below are taken from the LC Web site. LC has links to its forms on its home page and many other pages on its Web site. In the following illustration, the highlighted links on the LC home page lead to its forms or to pages containing links to those forms.
If your library has a QuestionPoint subscription, it participates in QuestionPoint much as each LC reading room does. Each reading room has its own QuestionPoint subscription, which includes an institution account and profile. Each reading room also has its own question form, chat form, or both. Questions asked through a reading room's forms are captured and managed in that reading room's QuestionPoint account.
If your library participates in a QuestionPoint group, your group can operate like the LC reading rooms do. They refer questions to each other to share their workloads and expertise, and provide more effective service to their patrons and Web site visitors.
On your library's question form
Templates and instructions
Your library uses the QuestionPoint forms manager to prepare and customize its question form.
Basic parts of a question form
Your library's question form contains:
- The institution ID for your library's QuestionPoint account. (Although not visible to patrons, the institution ID is used by QuestionPoint to send submitted questions to your library's account.)
- Customized instructions for your library's patrons.
- Graphics and links to integrate the form with your library's Web site.
- The two fields required by the QuestionPoint system: E-mail address and Question.
The following illustrations show the question form for the LC Business Reference Services reading room.
Additional parts of a question form
Your library's question form may also contain:
- Fields that your library adds and requires patrons to complete.
- Fields that your library adds but does not require patrons to complete.
After they submit a question
To ask a question using the question form, your patrons complete the required fields and click Submit. Then they receive:
- Acknowledgment screen
- Acknowledgment e-mail message
When the patron submits a question, QuestionPoint displays a screen that acknowledges the question.
Customize. Your institution administrator can customize this screen.
|1||Question ID||The identification number assigned to the question in the QuestionPoint Ask a Librarian module. A patron can use the number in the Patron interface to quickly find the question.|
|2||Question||The patron's question.|
|3||Acknowledgement notice||Notice that an acknowledgment message will be sent to the e-mail address supplied by the patron.|
|4||Patron interface link||Your library can customize this part of the screen. The default is a link to the QuestionPoint Patron interface for checking the status of the question.|
|5||Custom message||A custom message from your library to its patrons if your institution administrator provides the custom reply text in the QuestionPoint Administration module.|
Acknowledgement email message
Acknowledgement email message if the patron submitted other questions previously
QuestionPoint sends to the patron's e-mail address a message that acknowledges the question. The following example shows the message that a patron receives if the patron had submitted other questions previously.
Customize. Your institution administrator can customize e-mail messages to patrons.
|1||From email address||Email address to which patron email replies may be sent or to which undeliverable messages are returned.|
|2||Patron email address||Patron email address as supplied by the patron.|
|3||Question ID||Identification number for the question. A patron can use the number in the Patron interface to quickly find the question.|
|4||Patron name||Patron name as supplied by the patron if your library adds a Name field to its question form.|
|6||Question||The patron's question.|
|7||Patron interface link||A link to the QuestionPoint Patron interface for checking the status of the question (optional).|
|9||Custom message||A custom message from your library to its patrons if your institution administrator provides the custom reply text in the QuestionPoint Administration module.|
Acknowledgement email message for a patron's first question
The first time that a patron submits a question, QuestionPoint creates an account for the patron in the Patron interface. If your institution wants to inform the patron of the patron account, it also sends the patron an acknowledgment e-mail message with account information.
The acknowledgment message with account information contains:
- The patron's question
- Information about how to access the patron's account
When they receive a response
- Email message
- Patron response to email message
- Type a question and answer into the Ask a Librarian module and send it to a patron
When your library (or another library answering a question for your library) sends its response to the question in the QuestionPoint Ask a Librarian module, the patron receives an email message containing the answer or a request for clarification.
|1||From email address||Email address to which patron email replies may be sent or to which undeliverable messages are returned.
Your institution administrator specifies the following options in the Outgoing E-mail Address settings in the QuestionPoint Administration module:
|2||Patron email address||Patron email address.|
|3||Question ID||Identification number for the question. A patron can use the number in the Patron interface to quickly find the question. If a patron contacts your library about a question, the number also helps you find the question faster in QuestionPoint.|
|4||Question||The patron's question.|
|5||Reply||The librarian's reply.|
|6||Patron interface link||A link to the QuestionPoint Patron interface for checking the status of the question. The link includes the patron's email address and the question ID to take the patron directly to information about the question in the interface after the patron enters his/her Patron interface password.
The patron receives his/her Patron interface password in the acknowledgment email message for the patron's first question.
|7||Patron survey link||A link to your library's patron survey form that gathers information about your patrons' experiences with QuestionPoint. The link appears only if your institution administrator creates the survey form in the Administration module. It does not appear if the message is a request for clarification.
Note: Even if another library is answering the question for your library, the link leads to your library's patron survey form.
|8||Custom message||A custom message from your library to its patrons if your institution administrator provides the custom reply text in the QuestionPoint Administration module.
Note: If another library is answering the question for your library, the other library's custom message is used.
Patron response to email message
The patron has two methods for responding to the email message:
- Patron interface. If the patron goes to the Patron interface to respond to the message, the response is added to the question history in the Ask a Librarian module where you can act on it.
- Email reply. If the patron replies to the email message, the reply goes either to the question history or to an email address, as specified by your institution administrator.
On your library's patron survey form
Your library can create a patron survey form to gather information about your patrons' experiences with QuestionPoint.
If a patron clicks a link to the form in an e-mail message, the form appears in a browser window. The patron can choose a response for each question, type additional comments, and click Submit to send the response to QuestionPoint. The system displays a message thanking the patron.
A patron survey form
Your institution administrator creates the patron survey form in the Administration module and can choose to send it with:
- Each answer sent to a patron in an e-mail message from QuestionPoint. (The survey is not sent with requests for clarification.)
- Each chat transcript sent to a patron in an e-mail message from QuestionPoint.
- Both (each answer and each chat transcript).
You can view a patron's survey response with its related Full Question record in the Ask a Librarian module. Your institution administrator can view survey reports in the Administration module.
On your library's chat form
Full subscriber: Your library's group administrator can use the QuestionPoint chat form manager to provide a chat form for your library's patrons.
Fields on a chat form: If your library provides a chat form, it contains one or more of the following fields. You or your group manager decides which of these fields to include on the chat form. You also decide which of these fields are optional and which are required for patrons to complete in order to chat with a librarian.
- Patron Name field
- Patron E-mail address field
- Question field (If a patron provides a question on the chat form, the question is included at the beginning of the chat transcript so the librarian can see the question when joining the session.)
Anonymous chat: A patron can leave the E-mail address field and Name field blank and chat anonymously if your library does not require those fields.
A chat form also contains:
- The institution ID for your library's QuestionPoint account. (Although not visible to patrons, the institution ID is used by QuestionPoint to associate chat sessions with your library's account.)
- Customized instructions for your library's patrons.
- Graphics and links to integrate the form with your library's Web site.
During a chat session
To start a chat session using the chat form, a patron completes the form's fields and clicks the Connect button.
Enter the chat queue
Chat available: If your library or another library in your chat coverage group is monitoring chat sessions in the Ask a Librarian module, the patron sees an open chat form.
The screen displays the patron name and email address to the librarian if the patron provided them. It displays "Library Patron" if the patron did not provide a name.
Chat not available: If no one is monitoring the chat queue assigned to your library, the patron sees a screen that states chat is not available currently. The library can customize the "closed" message visible to the patron.
Begin the session
When a librarian joins the chat session and greets the patron, the screen changes so the patron can see messages from the librarian and type and send messages to the librarian.
Chat with a librarian
The chat session continues in that screen. The librarian and the patron send messages and the librarian can push Web pages to the patron.
|1||End Session||A link the patron can click at any time to end the session.|
|2||Transcript||The transcript of the session, containing all patron and librarian messages, with the latest at the bottom. A scroll bar lets the patron review the entire session transcript.|
|3||Web page link||A link to a Web page in a transcript. The patron can either see it in the attached viewport if available, or click it to go to the Web site. For more information, see Push Web pages.|
|4||Message box||The box in which the patron types messages.|
|5||Send||The Send button that the Patron clicks to send a message to the librarian.|
|6||Viewport||The webpages pushed by the librarian.|
Push Web pages
The librarian can push Web pages to the patron during a chat session. When a librarian sends a URL in a message, the patron either sees the page in the attached viewport (if made available by the library, or can click on the url and it will open a separate browser window open containing the Web page. Also, they both see a link to the page in the transcript on the chat screen.
- Begin URLs with http:// (for example, http://www.google.com/).
- If you include multiple URLs in a single message, only the page for the first URL opens in a separate window.
- Pop-ups must be enabled in the browser in order for the separate window to open.
End the session
When the patron or the librarian clicks End Session, the patron sees the final session screen.
|1||Salutation||The message confirming that the chat session has ended.|
|2||Patron/email||The patron's name and email address if the patron provided them. "Library Patron" appears as the name if the patron did not provide one, or if the patron did not provide an email address, a text box for them to enter it and a send button to have the transcript emailed. QuestionPoint uses any email address provided here only to send the transcript to the patron; it does not save the address.|
|3||Survey link||A link to the patron chat survey.|
|4||Transcript||The transcript of the session, containing all patron and librarian messages.|
View the chat transcript
When a chat session ends, QuestionPoint sends a message containing a transcript of the session to the patron's email address. Any Web site links included in the chat session also appear in the transcript.
The message includes a custom message from your library if your institution administrator provided custom reply text in the QuestionPoint Administration module.
QuestionPoint also adds the transcript in the answered questions list in the Patron interface and includes a link to the Patron interface in the message, if the patron provided an email address on the chat form. Also, if the patron does not already have an account for the Patron interface, QuestionPoint creates one and sends the patron an email message with account information similar to the acknowledgment email message for a patron's first question.
The transcript message may also contain a link to your library's patron survey form that gathers information about your patrons' experiences with QuestionPoint. The link appears only if your institution administrator creates the survey form in the Administration module.
If the patron replies to the transcript message, the reply is sent to the message's From address or added to the question history in the Ask a Librarian module as specified by your institution administrator.
In the Patron interface
In the QuestionPoint Patron interface, patrons can view questions they have asked and the answers your library has provided. QuestionPoint sends information about the Patron interface in the acknowledgment email message for a patron's first question.
If your library sends a message to the patron asking for clarification of a question, the patron may enter the clarification in the Patron interface so the information appears in your library's QuestionPoint account.
If your institution administrator does not accept email replies, patrons must use the Patron interface to respond to your library's messages about a question.
If the Patron interface is accessed at its standard address, patrons enter their email addresses and passwords and may also enter a question ID to log on.
The first time that a patron submits a question, QuestionPoint creates an account for the patron in the Patron interface. QuestionPoint includes the account's initial password in the e-mail message that acknowledges the question.
If the Patron interface is accessed by clicking a link in a message about a particular question, patrons do not enter their email address and go directly to information about the question after entering their password, because the link in the message contains the email address and question ID.
The first time the account is accessed, the patron is prompted to change the password.
Message confirming the password change
The patron receives an email message confirming the password change.
The Patron interface contains lists of the patron's answered, unanswered, and closed questions. Chat transcripts are included in the list of answered questions. Each list contains similar information.
In any list, the patron can click on a question to see the My Response screen containing more information about the question.
|1||Question ID||QuestionPoint ID number for the question.|
|2||Question||The question entered by the patron.|
|3||Date and time||Date and time that the question was entered.|
|4||Question History||The question history which contains the question as entered by the patron and any other messages and responses about the question enter by the patron, your library staff, or staff of other libraries to which the question may have been referred.|
|5||Reply box||A text box in which the patron can enter a reply containing additional information about the question.|
|6||Ask A New Question||A button the patron can click to go to your library's question form if your institution administrator provides the address in the QuestionPoint Administration module.|
|7||Send Response||A button the user can click to send the reply typed in the text box.|
|8||Close Question||A button the user can click to close the question indicating that no more information is needed.|
|9||Return to Question List||A button the user can click to return to the question list containing the question.|
Settings and change password
The patron can also click Settings to edit the patron name associated with the account and can click Password to change the password.
Patron terms of service
On any screen in the Patron interface, the patron can click Terms of Service to view the QuestionPoint patron terms and conditions.
On any screen in the Patron interface, the patron can click Help to view online help. The Patron Help is also available from the QuestionPoint website.