Thank you to everyone who emailed us with excitement about the news of Springshare acquiring QuestionPoint. Besides the info in the press release, and the LibGuide (of course 😉 ) we created to answer migration questions (https://buzz.springshare.com/qp-migration), we’d like to spell out our reasoning behind this very big deal for all libraries interested in online reference service.
First, let’s summarize the main points regarding transitioning existing QuestionPoint customers onto the LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative:
- QuestionPoint Staffers: *All* QuestionPoint staff librarians have joined Springshare and they are continuing their QP staffing work uninterrupted. The team you are used to will remain your 24/7 librarians team (plus we’ll add more staff, too – more on that below).
- Business As Usual: OCLC has agreed to continue supporting QuestionPoint software until all customers migrate to LibAnswers. Any software issues with QP, please email your regular OCLC tech support contacts.
- LibAnswers Coop Features: Springshare needs another two months to finish all required functionality for LibAnswers to support the full 24/7 Cooperative virtual reference service.
- Migration Plans for Customers: When the LibAnswers platform has all the requisite Cooperative functionality, we will start working with existing QuestionPoint customers and plan their migration to LibAnswers.
- No Interruption of Service: In the meantime, it’s business as usual for the Cooperative and for QuestionPoint software. There will be no interruption to the service of any kind while we plan and execute your migration to LibAnswers.
- Commitment to Enhancing the Service: Springshare has committed to enhancing the Cooperative to make it better for all participants. This includes adding more 24/7 Librarians on staff, providing more training, improving workflows for sharing information between local admins and 24/7 Librarians, etc.
- We also want your feedback and ideas on how we can make things better – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Did Springshare Do This?
The simplest answer is that we strongly believe in the 24/7 cooperative reference concept. We want to put our time and effort into organizing tens of thousands libraries worldwide to work together to provide 24/7 online reference & information research help to users – anytime, anywhere.
Our LibAnswers customers (1,400+ libraries worldwide, and counting) have also been asking us to explore adding Cooperative functionality and staffing options during holidays/weekends/nights/busy periods. Between creating a Cooperative from scratch vs taking an existing solution and building upon it – we decided that the latter is a better option for everyone involved… including existing QuestionPoint customers. This is truly combining the most feature rich and the most widely used reference software (LibAnswers) with the most established and the most widely used Cooperative & staffing service (QuestionPoint).
The Internet has not only changed the concept of how people access information (i.e. the ability to access vast amounts of information 24/7) – it has also disrupted the concept of access to services, too. Today’s internet user has 24/7 access to services as well.
- Hail a ride anytime, 24/7? Check.
- Order food at 3am? Check.
- Have a pressing medical question and need to check with a doctor online, now? Check.
Replace the words “medical” and “doctor” with terms for “legal/tax/accounting/technical/design/tutoring/coding etc.” help and you get the idea. Need a date right now? We won’t go there but word on the street is that there are 24/7 services available for it, too.
Internet Users Are Accustomed to 24/7 On-Demand Access to Services
Many internet users are library users, too. If they need help from a librarian they want it now, not the next day when the library’s doors open. Therefore, it’s important for the library to join the 24/7 service offering as well – especially in today’s world where the Internet is full of misinformation. Real, professional, quality information expert help is needed quite often. This presents a real opportunity for libraries to provide high-quality live librarian help to users in their communities, 24/7.
It’s a great way to gain mindshare with users and build engagement between the library and the community. Simply put, offering 24/7 live help service helps libraries meet the needs of their 24/7 users. Every missed call or missed question/inquiry is a wasted engagement opportunity for the library. And, more engagement with users translates into more appreciation for the value-add that the library provides to its community.
Scale Matters & Springshare Can Deliver It
Since very few libraries have staff available to answer questions online 24/7/365 (because, you know, money) we believe the next best thing is for libraries to work together in a Cooperative, with Springshare librarians helping whenever needed, to achieve true 24/7/365 coverage for any library, any user, anywhere, anytime. It’s a cost-effective way to obtain round-the-clock coverage for every library in every community. Sure, there may be situations where a remote librarian is unable to answer a specific question and will need to refer them to a local librarian the next day, but that’s okay. The personal touch, and an opportunity to speak with a human librarian anytime still means a lot in turning this user into a library fan. Also, we will have effective solutions in our software platform to minimize these “unable to help” issues. You’ll be hearing more about this very soon.
We at Springshare have experience with building communities and networks. Our first product, LibGuides, owes part of its success to the concept of LibGuides community that we built where 100,000+ librarians share content, templates, ideas, best practices, etc. We have made plans to build our own 24/7 Cooperative for LibAnswers because we believe in this concept. Then, the QuestionPoint opportunity came along and we jumped on it. Seriously, what’s not to like about combining our two solutions and instantly reaching scale. The scale here is very important because with scale comes the flexibility to offer better round-the-clock coverage with more librarians, higher quality service, and – just as important – better prices, too. If you study these on-demand services you quickly learn that the key is achieving sufficient scale where the marginal cost of adding new customers decreases and as more customers and more providers are added to the network the cost of the service decreases for everyone.
Our goal is to add many LibAnswers customers to the existing Cooperative – this will add more coverage to the Cooperative but it will also mean the network is much larger and the additional staffing costs will be lower per-customer (even after adding many new 24/7 staffers to our team). Lower costs per customer, more coverage, better quality service – this is where we’re going with LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative. And we won’t stop until there are tens of thousands libraries all linked globally with many hundreds of librarians online 24/7, ready and available to help a library user in any corner of the world.
Vision for the Future of the LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative
This is why we’re beyond excited about welcoming all QuestionPoint customers and all QuestionPoint staffers to our Springshare community. In the coming weeks and months you will hear more about the awesome features we are releasing in LibAnswers to make our 24/7 Cooperative the best it can be.
- More effective ways for local admins to share information with remote librarians? Check.
- Expanding the Cooperative specialty beyond the traditional Public/Academic groups to include K-12, Corporate, Law, and Medical Libraries? Check.
- Adding functionality for more interactive ways to engage with users (screenshare, audio, video, etc.)? Check.
- Guaranteed response times for every incoming chat? Check.
- Social media coverage and engagement? Check.
- Sharing and exchanging Cooperative best practices? Check.
- Additional options for Cooperative participation (local staff contribution – or not)? Check.
- Reliable ratings and automatic feedback functionality? Check.
This is a new chapter for the Cooperative and online reference service. We’ll double-down on everything that worked great in QuestionPoint, improve on everything that didn’t, and add new functionality and new options to make the LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative the next big thing for libraries and for the communities they serve. Onwards & upwards, and welcome aboard!
-Chief Springy Slaven & the (much larger since Friday) Springshare team 🙂