4 Ways an “Ask a Librarian” Presence on your Online Databases Empowers your Library


Multitasking is incorporated into our 21st century work production and technologies. Having the capability to simultaneously access multiple technologies is often a requirement of today’s workforce. We have become structured to completing multiple tasks at one sitting and when our work demands it. it is advantageous to have our libraries accommodating this need as well.

It is common for database users to have questions

While working at the reference desk of the library, a high percentage of the questions called in from our patrons relate to accessing the databases. Usually, database access requires the patron to know their borrower ID, password, PIN or other access codes. It would be beneficial for patrons to have the option of selecting an “Ask a Librarian” presence for convenience in contacting a librarian for their questions when attempting to access their library’s databases.

Adds a personal touch to your services

Working with databases can sometimes feel impersonal, especially when the patron is new to database usage and requires the assistance of the librarian. Offering patrons the option of an “Ask a Librarian” presence can lessen the users feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated when navigating through the databases or while using some of the library’s other online technologies.

Connects patrons back to their library

Libraries are attempting to encourage more patron usage in our physical libraries to allow for greater interaction while at the same time increasing our patron’s awareness of our in-house resources including computer instruction classes, speakers from our communities, the latest bestsellers along with introducing them to the other materials and technologies we have to offer them within the physical walls of their libraries. This could be seen as a win-win for patrons and libraries. As we acquaint our users with an “Ask a Librarian” presence, we are in essence tightening our limited opportunities for closer interactions with our users.

Provides library staff the opportunity to introduce patrons to other library services

When library patrons connect to the library for assistance while using our databases, oftentimes it is apparent to librarians that we have additional resources we can introduce the patron to that can be beneficial for their research or school work that they may not be aware of. Last week when a student used our “Ask a Librarian” service in relating his difficulty in finding database information for his chosen research topic, I suggested we also search America’s Newspapers database, where together, we netted a variety of results. This is just one example of the constructive interplay that can be developed between patrons and librarians by including an “Ask a Librarian” type of presence on your online databases.

Diane Perrine is a freelance writer and an academic librarian at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, Florida. She resides in Ocala Florida.
Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, bicycling, volunteering and learning something new everyday.

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