Your library can place a form on its website so a patron can request a chat session with a librarian in order to receive assistance in real time. QuestionPoint provides tools that let your library cooperate with other libraries so others can chat with your patrons when your library is not available. In addition, your library can provide reference services around the clock by participating in the 24/7 Reference Cooperative.
How Chat works
- A patron submits a request for a chat session.
- The patron sees a message that indicates the patron is being connected to a librarian and invites the patron to provide more information about the question.
Note: If no librarian is monitoring requests, the patron sees a message that indicates chat is not currently available and refers the patron to other resources.
- A librarian accepts the request and is connected to the patron. (If multiple librarians are monitoring the chat queue, the first one to accept the request is connected to the patron.)
- The librarian and patron chat.
- When the chat session ends:
- The librarian selects a resolution code so the transcript receives appropriate followup in the Ask a Librarian module after the session.
- QuestionPoint sends the chat transcript to the patron’s e-mail address (if provided by the patron) and adds it to your library’s current questions in the Ask a Librarian module.
QuestionPoint chat methods
Your library may use one or more of these methods:
- Chat. An ADA-compliant patron chat window lets librarians chat with patrons and send URLs that open in a separate browser window when patrons click on them.
- Chat with Viewport and Cobrowse check. The primary QuestionPoint chat method offers chat, lightweight cobrowsing, page pushing, and librarian-to-librarian communication.
- Qwidget (QuestionPoint widget). A lightweight chat window that libraries can embed throughout their library Web pages and elsewhere.
Here is a sample chat request form. If your library is part of a group, it works with its group/BME administrator to create its forms. The forms are hosted at OCLC. QuestionPoint provides URLs for the forms. Your library uses the URLs to link to the forms from its website.
Here is a Qwidget embedded on a library Web page.
To start a chat session, a patron types a question in the box provided and clicks Send.
Chat session in progress
The sample chat monitor below shows a chat session in progress from the librarian side. The librarian uses the chat monitor to respond whether the patron is using chat or the Qwidget. The librarian can click the Policies link to view the Policy Page for the patron’s library.
Here is the patron side of the session with the patron using Chat with a Viewport.
Here is the top of a Policy Page that provides information about a patron’s library and its policies.
Chat transcript status
At the end of a chat session, the librarian selects a resolution code so the transcript can receive appropriate followup in the Ask a Librarian module. At the bottom of the figure below, the librarian has selected “Followup By Me” so the chat transcript will be placed with the librarian’s other questions and chat transcripts needing action and attention.
The librarian may also select up to 4 descriptive codes (Add Description) to categorize a session for statistical and planning purposes. A default list of over 50 codes is provided for convenience, and libraries can customize the list by changing or adding custom codes. . Each library decides whether to use the codes and how to use them.