Maryland AskUsNow Practice Session
All BCPL Staff Members
This activity is expected to take approximately 60 minutes. Participants will be awarded 0.1 CEUs.
Customers are more likely to use our services if we can recommend and describe them clearly and enthusiastically. This is easy for staff when the service is provided within the library but is more difficult to do with virtual/online services. At the end of this activity, participants will be familiar with the Maryland AskUsNow! service from a customer perspective. Participants will be able to describe the uses of the service, explain the log-in process to customers, and describe a session due to first-hand experience.
- Read the "Additional Resources or Information" section below.
- Read the "About this Service" and the "Privacy" sections on the AskUsNow.info site. Also, review the "Tips and Tricks" section to learn about the basic help and troubleshooting information that is available for customers.
- Log on to the Maryland AskUsNow! service using the link from the BCPL Home Page or the AskUsNow.info web site. Be sure to enter your email address so that you will be sent a transcript at the end of the session. You may identify yourself as a library staff member if you like. Remember that you are likely to be connected to a librarian from another Maryland library or possibly from a library elsewhere in the country.
As a courtesy, please do not ask an exceptionally difficult or time-consuming question . The goal of the exercise is for you to learn about the service from a customer viewpoint, not to test the skills of a fellow library staff member!
- After your session has been completed, review the transcript that will be emailed to you.
- Complete the Evaluation Question Form. A description of the questions and a link to the form are posted at the bottom of this page.
Additional Resources or Information:
The Maryland AskUsNow! chat-based reference service began as a cooperative grant-based project of the Harford County Public Library and the Baltimore County Public Library. Due to its success, the the Maryland Department of Education Division of Library Development and Services (DLDS) chose to fund the project at a statewide level. The statewide service began officially on March 17, 2003 and recently celebrated its fifth anniversary.
Maryland AskUsNow! is staffed by librarians from public, academic and special libraries accross the state. A full list of participating libraries is available on the askusnow.info page. The Maryland group participates in a nationwide cooperative. We contribute some time to answer questions from library customers outside Maryland and receive off-hours and backup coverage from the cooperative in return. This allows us to offer the service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The service uses the OCLC QuestionPoint software to allow communication between the librarian and the customer. The librarian and customer chat back and forth in one window on the screen. Another window is available to allow the librarian to "push" useful web pages to the customer's computer. If the question cannot be answered immediately, the librarian offers the customer the option of receiving a follow-up response. Librarians from the customer's home library system or from elsewhere in Maryland will work to find and answer to the customer's question and, using the QuestionPoint software, will respond to the customer via email. Since the service began in March, 2003, Maryland AskUsNow! has handled over 241,000 customer sessions.
Jim DeArmey - Information Services
April 7, 2008
Complete the Maryland AskUsNow! Practice Session Evaluation Form to answer the following questions:
- What question did you ask in your practice session?
- What was your impression of the interaction in chat?
- List two situations where you feel you would be able to recommend the Maryland AskUsNow! service to customers.