Training

Ask a Librarian Delaware New Staff and Refresher Training

LibAnswers training is available as needed and can cover many aspects of reference work. Contact Cathay to schedule training or to request a specific refresher.

All of Delaware’s public libraries  (and many others to include academic, school and special libraries) collaborate to provide a shared, statewide reference service called Ask a Librarian Delaware.  This resource uses Springshare’s LibAnswers software.

Training  is intended for all Delaware library staff who provide question-answering, whether it is indepth research or interlibrary loan requests and account help. Training teaches providers how to use our shared software for emailing and SMS texting, and covers best practices in question-answering.

Ask a Librarian Delaware offers email, text and social media options for our Delaware library patrons – so they can ask us questions from where they are online, whenever they want. There are also close to 60 FAQs for Ask a Librarian Delaware to instantly help library customers when we are not available, with commonly-asked questions such as how to get a library card to how to download an ebook.

When you complete this training, you will know:

  • how to log on and manage your account.
  • how to claim, compose a response to the patron’s question, insert images, make hyperlinks, add tags and Dewey Delaware analytics, and the best option for submitting the question (new, pending, closed).
  • steps for answering as a reference librarian (best practices, including how to compose a great response in the medium the patron used).
  • where to find reliable sources of information online.
  • when and how to add an internal note to the question.
  • 3 options for when you don’t know the answer (how and when to transfer the question, how to find previously-answered questions from other providers, and how to access the FAQs).
  • how to find your answered question at a later date.

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If you would like to schedule a new staff or refresher training, please contact Cathay. See below for Training Details.

Expectations for providing AaLDE service  (Note that the  live chat component was discontinued as of June 1, 2016 )

  • Criteria accepted by AaLDE liaisons October 26, 2011
  • *Question-answering and patron interaction follow the Reference and Users Services Association (RUSA) Guidelines for Behavioral Performance for Reference and Information Services Providers.  See also the Virtual Reference Skills Training outline, as this directly affects our training and service criteria, also found on RUSA.
  • Providers who staff the Ask a Librarian Delaware service are required to have recent experience with library reference services, be adept at using a keyboard/mouse and comfortable in the online environment (searching for information), and are librarians and library staff who would normally provide reference help in their library. Specifically, library staff who provide question-answering for Ask a Librarian Delaware can be MLS/MLIS degreed, or Library Associates/Paraprofessionals, staff, and/or those who normally assist patrons with reference questions through their libraries can also provide online library reference services.
  • Professional Competencies for Reference and User Services Librarians are outlined in detail on RUSA’s site.

Training Process Details – for LibAnswers training in email, texting:

There are three parts.  (Note that there are exceptions when training is given one-on-one.)

Part One:

Pre-class assignments start about a week prior to the in-class training and usually do not take more than an hour in total.

  • If you are comfortable with this, try out our statewide service as a secret shopper.  Go to our patron portal page linked here and ask a real question but don’t try to stump the librarian! Use the webform or text in your question.  Bring your transcript to the class (Part Two) and we will review it based upon our standard for question-answering.
  • Talk to your library’s Reference Services lead to help you decide how and when you will log on to check your library’s LibAnswers account and respond to patrons.  It is best if you can designate a computer that is away from distraction.
  • Within a day or two before the live, in-person training, you will receive LibAnswers account information.  Log in and gain familiarization with the Dashboard.

Part Two:  Your live training
Face-to-face training builds upon Part One. The focus is upon…

  • organization of the service
  • best practices for question-answering policies  (standard for question-answering)
  • familiarity with the LibAnswers software, including using tagging and adding Reference Analytics (Dewey Delaware)
  • options for helping with tough questions such as by using scripted messages, FAQs, Reuse Answers
  • overview of some resources to help you with online answering
  • gaining some familiarity with working in the online environment and comfort with using the software

This training takes about 2 hours and is hosted by libraries that have computer labs or areas for this use, as determined when new staff training and/or a refresher training are desired.

Part Three:  Practice

You can log in multiple times to practice sending yourself a text or email as a patron and then answering as a librarian.  Or, ask a colleague or your library’s liaison to practice with you, or set this up with Cathay.  It’s important to feel confident with the platform and process so you can focus upon helping the customer with his/her information need.

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Training Locations and Frequency:

Ask a Librarian Delaware new staff training is scheduled as needed, and is hosted by libraries with computer labs that can accommodate such a training.  If you have any questions or would like to schedule training, please contact the Cathay Keough, Reference Services Coordinator .

Here are some Tutorials for walking through specific functions and processes on LibAnswers. (For more helpful resources, see the “help for chat, texting, and email” page.)