Tag Archives: Ask a Librarian

5 Reasons You Should Have Ask-a-Librarian on Every Page of Your Website

To get the most value out of your library’s services and provide patrons with the highest level of service, it is important to make it as easy as possible for your patrons to connect with those services

The best way to connect patrons with your Ask-a-Librarian service is to have Ask-a-Librarian tabs, links or buttons on every page of your library’s website. Here are five ways that implementing such a strategy with your online reference will benefit your users:

1. All successful advertisers know that the key to getting a message across is through repetition and consistent branding. When your patrons interact with a consistent layout from page to page and see Ask-a-Librarian on every page, you have created the best possible ongoing marketing campaign for your service, with an important added bonus: It’s free.

2. While we can predict some user behavior, we never really know when and where on a website patrons are going to need assistance. A patron may be on a page where the information seems to be straight-forward to librarians, but to an uninitiated patron the information may leave questions. Likewise, a patron may be on one page but thinking ahead to another problem or the next step in his or her research process. Having Ask-a-Librarian immediately available from wherever the patron may be on the library’s website ensures that he or she will be able to connect to help when needed.

3. If a patron is interacting with the library’s website, encounters a problem, and then has to recall where to go to find the Ask-a-Librarian service, the library has not succeeded in making the most of the service’s primary benefit to users – the ability to connect them instantly with a library professional who can solve their problem.

4. Consistent placement of the Ask-a-Librarian tab on your library’s webpages makes marketing the service via social media or flyers much easier. When the Ask-a-Librarian tab is on every page of your library website, there is no need to place an easily forgotten URL (or URLs) on your marketing materials – simply state that the Ask-a-Librarian service is available from every page on the library website and where it is located (“look for our Ask-a-Librarian tab in the upper left-hand corner of any page on the library site”).

5. Each Ask-a-Librarian query that comes from a specific page can help you improve the overall content and design of that page. When you have an Ask-a-Librarian chat box on every page, and you are tracking which pages queries come in from, this gives you the great benefit of an ongoing focus group indirectly telling you what works and what doesn’t work on every page of your library’s site.

Responding quickly to queries will help you provide the top-notch customer service that will keep your library patrons satisfied and returning for more business. To make sure your patrons submit those queries whenever they need help on your library’s site, you should have ask-a-librarian tabs on every page.


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Patron Support Simplified

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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Patron Support Simplified

Four Ways to Promote Your Ask-a-Librarian Service


Your Ask-a-Librarian service is a powerful research tool for your patrons, most of whom have come to expect quick and easy access to information and answers. Here are four promotional ideas to get the word out and help your patrons take advantage of this service.

1.  Instructional Sessions and Classes

One of the best ways to promote your Ask-a-Librarian service is to tell your patrons about it directly in informational literacy classes (for academic libraries) or computer and other instructional classes and workshops (for public libraries). A live demo in a class or group setting will really grab your patrons’ attention so they remember to use the service the next time they need information remotely.

2. Posters with QR Codes

Another great way to promote your Ask-a-Librarian service is by placing posters around your library building (and campus community, for academic libraries) advertising the service. Be sure to include a QR code to take patrons directly to your Ask-a-Librarian information page, where they can learn more about and use the service.

3. Social Media

Does your library have a blog, or a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest account? A great way to inform your patrons of an online service such as Ask-a-Librarian is to reach them when they are already online. If they are reading about your Ask-a-Librarian service from any of your social media accounts, then they are either on a computer or a smart phone, and they can go straight to the service and utilize it immediately.

4. Signs on Computer Monitors

Finally, placing small and unobtrusive announcement “bubbles” in the upper right-hand corner of your library’s computer monitors will certainly catch your patrons attention without being a distraction. One of the best methods to create these announcements is to use dialogue bubbles from MS Word. Type in your message, laminate the announcements, cut them out following the dialogue bubble outlines, and then attach one to the upper-right corner of each of your monitors using Velcro or another adhesive method.

These are just four ideas to get you started with your Ask-a-Librarian promotions, but you can come up with many more. The key is to be creative and have fun! When you connect your users with your library’s services, everybody benefits.

Michael English is an academic librarian and freelance writer/editor.

Four Reasons Online Customer Service Matters to Libraries

Four Reasons Online Customer Service Matters to Libraries
A library’s power lies in the information it houses. Getting that information to patrons is the number one task of any librarian. We are lucky to live in an age where a library can extend its influence well beyond its walls, reaching patrons anywhere, anytime. A strong online presence lets patrons know that they have access to their library—and professional assistance—wherever they may be. What can strong online customer service do for your library?

1. Eliminate boundaries.

Customer service doesn’t begin and end at the door. Let your patrons know that they can get the answers they need, even if the questions arise far from the circulation desk! Online customer service allows patrons to be helped quickly and efficiently.

2. Strengthen your community.

Building a stronger rapport with patrons empowers everyone. Increasing the availability of your library’s services makes it an even bigger part of the community at large. A library that is valued by the community is more likely to thrive and grow.

3. Give technology a personal touch.

Information technology provides a wealth of data. However, it does not replace the value of having a human to help retrieve the most accurate results. Librarians have a unique skill set that can make the difference when looking for reliable answers to important questions. Patrons will make better, more frequent use of library resources if they know they can get help when they need it!

4. Expand your services.

Strong online customer service generates a win-win situation. Libraries have books, of course. But, having a bigger presence online can help patrons take advantage of other services they may not have otherwise accessed. These include the online catalog and interlibrary loan, online periodical databases, educational programs, and more. Personalized help with these services will guarantee stronger use of library services, which, in turn, will foster stronger ties between library and community.

About the author: Lizabeth C.S. Bell has worked as a librarian, and has a great appreciation for the power of information. She has degrees in English literature and library science. Currently, Lizabeth is a freelance editor and writer. Follow her on Twitter @LizBell9