LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative: Views from the Patron Side

We’re T-minus 9 days until the LibAnswers 24/7 Chat Cooperative launch (wahoo!). We’ve shown you some of the Co-Op’s functionality and snazzy features you and your librarians can use behind the scenes, but we know that, at the root of it all, the Co-Op is really about helping people. It’s about serving patrons you otherwise may not reach or a segment of your community you’ve struggled to engage in the past. 

In today’s blog post we’re going to focus on just that. We’re switching the view to two individual patrons: a student struggling to download a research article during peak times and a public library patron trying to access a tax form late at night. After setting the stage, you’ll see the chat as it happens on their end, and finish up by discovering how the 24/7 Co-Op’s features provided a way for an MLIS-degreed librarian from another school/library to seamlessly help these patrons as if they were their own.

So let’s pull up a chair and check out the action!

Using the Academic Cooperative to Turn a Missed Chat into a Successful Chat

The scene: Stewart is a Springy University student working on a research paper but is having trouble getting the article. He’s frustrated and needs help. It’s 5pm, one week before midterms, and all of his librarians are busy answering questions from other students. Luckily, his library has the Global Academic Co-Op as one of their chat widget fallbacks, so a Co-Op librarian can chime in if no one from Springy University responds within 15 seconds. 

The 24/7 Academic Cooperative chat (No audio): 

Not able to watch the silent video? (View the chat transcript)

We’d call this chat interaction a success! Stewart has the article he needs for his paper. Let’s take a look at how a Co-Op member from a completely different school was able to help Stewart.

  1. Right off the bat, Stewart was greeted with a message letting him know that a librarian from another college was answering his question. This text is customizable so that patrons know right away if they’re hearing from their own librarian or a Co-Op librarian.
  2. In the LibChat dashboard, the Co-Op librarian was able to see that Stewart started the chat from the library’s A-Z database page and was using Firefox. They were able to use the referring URL to go directly to where Stewart had started his search and ask a troubleshooting question.
  3. When that didn’t work, they logged into PsycDatabase to attempt to download the article. How’d they do that? By using the 24/7 Staff Policy FAQs available right from the LibChat dashboard! Springy University had already supplied the login information so that the Co-Op librarian could access it just as if they were a staff member.
  4. Since they didn’t have any trouble, the librarian used LibChat’s file upload feature to get the article directly to Stewart.
  5. Now that Stewart’s immediate issue has been addressed, they asked if Stewart would like a Springy University librarian to follow up with him. 
  6. Since he has had trouble in the past, he said yes. Then, all the Co-Op librarian needed was his email address to send the request directly to his library’s ticketing queue. Stewart will hear back as soon as a Springy University librarian is able to answer it.

Using the Public Cooperative to Reach Previously Invisible Patrons

The scene: Penny is a full-time working parent looking to start her own consulting firm, but she can only dedicate time to launching the business late in the evenings. One night, she’s having trouble finding the form she needs to create an Employer ID with the IRS. Springy Library is a member of the Public 24/7 Co-Op, so she can ask for help right from the library’s website at this late hour. 

The 24/7 Public Cooperative chat (No audio): 

Not able to watch the silent video? (View the chat transcript)

Some community members rarely make it to the library due to their busy schedules (work/life balance, what’s that again?). So when the chat widget is offline, patrons can search what’s available on the website and in FAQs, but if they run into any trouble they have to wait or get help from a friend or family member, which could take days. With 24/7 coverage, the Springy Library chat is never offline, so Penny can get personalized help and a view of the Co-Op librarian’s screen (which is all she really needed to overcome that hurdle). Let’s take a look at a few features the public Co-Op librarian used to help her out:

  1. Again, Penny was able to see right away that she was being helped by a public librarian from another institution. Since her library was closed, the chat went directly to the Public Co-Op, so she didn’t have to wait long for a response.
  2. Chat users can easily see the referring URL from the patron, so the Co-Op librarian hopped directly to the point where Penny contacted the library.
  3. When Penny expressed having trouble finding the right link, the librarian was able to create and share a video using their own screen capture software to share its link/ file. Penny was able to follow the steps on her end.
  4. Finally, since the Co-Op librarian could easily access the patron’s home library’s FAQs directly from the LibChat dashboard, they quickly found and shared the info with Penny, so she has those opening hours on hand.

Want to Learn More About the 24/7 Global Cooperative?

If you’re not a LibAnswers user yet, here’s a short overview video that gives you a tour and includes a deep dive into the LibChat features. 

The LibAnswers Global Reference Cooperative can be added to an existing LibAnswers system and includes hundreds of participating librarians and 20+ Springshare MLS librarians, delivering the highest quality co-op reference coverage for libraries.

  • The LibAnswers 24/7 Cooperative allows librarians across multiple LibAnswers systems to provide collaborative chat reference.
  • Librarians answer patron chats on behalf of all member libraries within the cooperative.
  • This means, all of your patrons can get library help, even when your physical doors are closed.

If you’re ready to get started, drop us a line!

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