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My first experience on 24/7 can be filed under, “Instinct FAIL.” I think I need to slightly retrain my responses to QuestionPoint’s ping announcing that a new patron has joined. Instead of thinking that only one of the two people from UC can get it, I need to remember that usually there are many others online who can also answer questions, and that if I’m busy I should just let it go. Unfortunately, that’s NOT how I initially reacted, so I found myself saddled with many, many questions. I also received types of questions I wasn’t used to. For instance, a 10-yr-old somewhere in Maryland wanted to know how to get a paper route (but didn’t know the name of any local papers), and someone in New Jersey wanted to know what food service contractor all the NYC Private Schools used. Not quite social service, but not the typical academic library kind of question I’m used to (and frankly, my answers were unsatisfactory to me and, I expect, the patrons). Patrons come at you quickly, and I need to train myself not only to not take every question that comes in, but also that I can’t spend a ton of time with individual patrons. I like the personal touch, and I like really helping individual patrons and showing them where/how I found something, but the speed at which these folks were coming seems to push away from any kind of education or instruction, and toward simple fast answers.

This experience reminded me of when I was in library school and did a day of observation at a public library reference desk. My definition of busy shifted dramatically that day! As it did today with QuestionPoint. I assume I’ll get better as I shift my expectations for each encounter.



Robert Johnson

Research Librarian for Nursing and Allied Health

University of California, Irvine


I am eternally grateful to my colleague Rick Caldwell, who volunteered four hours of his time last night to sit next to me with his laptop and 

help me through my first experience with 24/7 and the non-UC queue.


There were four of us librarians from UCSB and I don't think we had more than a couple minutes of downtime the entire evening.  The ping of an 

incoming question was almost constant.  There were a lot of  questions from online colleges and schools that I'd never heard of, so I kept a 

couple browser windows open for Google searches. I could see that the library web pages for a lot of these schools had no contact info. or any 

other means of providing research help except for the one, very visible  "24/7" link. 


Also, it's frustrating that many of the online schools don't allow public access to their website, so I had no way of knowing what databases or other resources a patron had access to. I only got one inappropriate question, which I dismissed with a "good question, but not one that I can answer" or something equally lame. Like Robert,  I made the mistake of grabbing incoming calls too quickly, so I had two and sometimes three calls at once.  That used to be fine when we did the UC-only queue, but the incessant pinging of more calls added a background stress was new to me.  I think I misunderstood the sequence of who takes the new requests and when, but I understand now that I can let a new call linger for awhile before I take it. 


Actually, my colleagues were even quicker on the draw than I, because often I'd get the "already being helped..." message after only a second or two.


It was definitely a learning experience.  Next week I will wear comfortable clothes, eat a good dinner beforehand, and wait longer before grabbing the new questions. 

Jane Faulkner

UCSB Library



This is somewhat disconcerting. I thought our 24/7 queue is supposed to be other ACADEMIC libraries. It sounds like something is mis-coded in

Questionpoint. I won't be doing any hours until later in the quarter, so I hope we will have a better idea of what to expect by then.



Miki Goral

Reference Librarian

UCLA Col Lib


For me, the most difficult change is the added interruption caused by the quite frequent "pinging" of incoming calls from around the globe (hemisphere? country?)...

I know I can't and don't need to answer all of them (it's a consortium), but that doesn't change the fact that the new calls are distracting me from my current research dialogue(s) - messing with my chat feng shui ...

Not sure what to do about that -- Even if you're at research dialogue capacity, you will need to look up when the ping crashes in to determine whether the new call is Ask Live (UC) or 24/7.

I suppose the type of questions received may differ from one service to the next but that wasn't my experience. 

The questions seemed the same.  The process seemed the same.  The basic chat pattern of question, dialogue, research, conclusion (including the possibility of referral) unfolds, as in the ask live universe.

Just a whole lot busier!



PS It's busy.

 Having done a one hour shift on Monday, and then four hours last night, I think that last night was much better than Monday. It was easier for me to ignore incoming pings (although I agree it's a stressful background noise and an interruption to typing). But I was much more comfortable ignoring the non-UCs if I already was working with a non-UC patron; I did go out of my way to pick up UC Qwidgets, even when I already had some active patrons. I've found that the majority of our Qwidget patrons are ok waiting for you, as long as they know that you're there.

I do feel challenged with the online schools and I had at least one community college patron that I didn't feel I was helping very well. But I think some of that is retraining to be comfortable not using our databases and looking at good, free resources. Also, learning to pay more attention to the home library's scripts, urls and policy pages, which is not something I'm used to.


I was surprised by how well it went. I am glad that the abundant pinging was mentioned so I was prepared for it. I only had one "real" reference question, though. The other questions were definitely of a technical nature about connections and the like, which required quick review of another institution's site. I didn't have too much trouble, though. I think that Yvonne and I might have lucked out with a slower shift.





Dana S. Peterman

Research Librarian for Education

Langson Library Reference 144

PO Box 19557

Irvine  CA  92623-9557



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