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Virtual Reference Librarian

Email from Jean and Kate September 2006

Our virtual librarian service has begun! The difference between AskAway and AskALibrarian:

  1. AskALibrarian provides email contact with a Malaspina librarian and questions will be answered within 24 hours.
  2. AskAway provides live, real-time online contact with a librarian, but the librarian will be communicating from any one of a number of B.C. colleges and universities (or perhaps even from Malaspina, when it is our librarians' scheduled turn to (wo)man the service). While these remote librarians will be helping students use Malaspina resources, there may be some limitations.
    We should encourage patrons to use AskAway only during times when there is no scheduled Reference service and you feel you cannot help the patron enough yourself, or if there is a lineup at the Ref Desk and the patron needs to have a librarian's help right away.

Jean says:

  1. The AskAway button has been added to the Library home page along with the Ask a Librarian button and notes to describe the difference between them.
  2. The various "Ask a Librarian" links on the web site -- on the quick link menu, Library services menu, and child page navigation bar -- have been changed to say "Ask for Help" and to link to an interim page giving access to AskAway and the Ask a Librarian form, as well as information about in-person and phone access to the Reference Desk.

Email from Eileen Edmonds August 2006

Yesterday the Reffies spent the day learning how to provide Virtual Reference service through the province-wide ELN initiative that will be launched in September (projected launch date is the 25th). This service is a co-operative venture of B.C. post-secondary libraries, for post-secondary students. This fall, the service will be available 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sun-Thurs, Fri-Sat 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. The plan is to extend the hours in the spring to 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sun-Thurs, and 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Fri-Sat.

When the service is 'open for business' there will be at least two librarians available at all times, and four during peak hours. Students will access the service through their home libraries' websites, but will be assisted by whomever is on duty at the time. Students will always be guided to and through their own libraries' resources. This means that a Malaspina student may be assisted by a librarian from Thompson Rivers University, but the librarian will navigate the student through our catalogue and on-line databases. For an investment of six hours of Malaspina librarians' time per week, our students have access to this service for 52 hours a week this term, and 62 hours a week thereafter.

Once we're in action, the Virtual Reference Desk will be somewhere to direct students for real-time help when no Reference Librarian is available in person.

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