With more than 30 public, academic, and special libraries participating statewide, Ask a Librarian Delaware has been servicing Delawareans since 2003. In 2014 alone, they answered 3,000 chat questions and an additional 3,000 email questions roughly equating to 500 questions answered per month.
On March 1st, 2015 – the Ask A Librarian Delaware service switched to using LibAnswers for their statewide reference expanding their service to include SMS/Text-Message Reference. We had a chance to chat with Cathay Keough, Statewide Coordinate of Reference Services for DAAL, and here’s what she had to say!
What inspired you to switch to LibAnswers for your Statewide Service?
Ask a Librarian Delaware is an extension of Delaware libraries’ reference services, and in keeping with our initiative to find ways to improve library services, it was important to keep our eyes open for products that best fit our ideals. Springshare’s LibGuides was already being used by Delaware Division of Libraries, and that gave us an introduction to the other products Springshare provides. Upon closer examination and through a trial process, we decided to proceed with this transition to LibAnswers. I had also seen the FAQs portion of LibAnswers in action through another library service, and was impressed by a demo provided during a library conference.
Statistics are important to DAAL – Tell us how you’re using LibAnswers Reference Analytics to track reference stats.
To track statistics, we began using the Dewey Decimal system a few years ago as a way to help us identify types of questions asked across all of our reference interactions (on the desk, telephone, email, chat, texting) and have coined the term for this reporting process, “Dewey Delaware.” Our LibAnswers Reference Analytics was easily set up to continue this type of tracking.
You’ve been using LibAnswers for DAAL for 5 months now – tell us about your experience!
So far, from the training to the statistics, LibAnswers has been just what we hoped it would be:
- easy to train library staff
- intuitive to use
- responsive on any device for library staff and patrons
- adaptable for future considerations, such as developing a separate Group or Queue identity for a special library, but within the same cooperative.
Staff commonly remark that they love the interface and find it to be an easy and effective way to provide reference for online customers.
As a shared statewide system, the “Reuse Answers” (FAQs and librarians’ responses) have already shown value for library staff; it saves time as well as creates consistency in answering to share what we know in this way. Features like Reuse Answers, patron surveys on chat, and Query Spy give us excellent information to continue to improve our reference services.
We also appreciate that Springshare’s Support Team have listened to suggestions and ideas for improving the interface as well.
What does the future hold for Ask a Librarian Delaware?
In the future we plan to explore more options for visibility of the Ask a Librarian DE service. The widgets are easy to create and implement on library websites and anywhere Delaware patrons are online. Our only challenge is to work with those in charge of the sites; sometimes there are hurdles with website restrictions, depending upon the library or institution. Springshare’s products are well established and their reputation is rapidly growing, however, so it’s just a matter of time.
We enjoy providing professional and fun options for all our library patrons and students and look forward to serving our Delaware community in ways that fit their needs, where they are and when they need it.