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Springshare Products at UCI Libraries: Best Practices for Virtual Services

Some basics

General Rules and Etiquette

  1. Since there is a live person waiting at the other “end” for your answer you may feel a fair amount of pressure to answer immediately. Be careful not to let this cause you to overlook some important aspects of the patron’s question.

  2. Keep the patron engaged in the conversation.

  3. Check-in with them regularly (e.g., “Let me check…”, “I am still checking…”, “Not there…let me check another place…”)

  4. Try to break up long messages (e.g., “First you will do this…”, “Next type the search terms…”)

  5. If you feel comfortable doing this and it's appropriate, use the patron’s name when addressing him/her.

  6. Use brief statements and confirmations (e.g., “Any questions?” “Does this help answer your question?” "Does this make sense?")

  7. Be polite, show interest, and “listen.”

  8. Answer with a positive, friendly, empathetic tone. Feel free to use smiley faces (If you feel comfortable doing this and it's appropriate) and friendly statements.

  9. Some sessions can become quite lengthy. Use your judgment as to when it is time to refer the patron to an offline source (e.g., a subject specialist, local reference desk, etc.)

 (Adapted from the Ask a Librarian Handbook at UCI)

Referrals to colleagues in the Libraries

  • Providing a useful referral is an excellent answer!
    • Often people ask the Libraries for help because they can't find a phone number or don't know whom to ask.
    • When referring a patron to another UCI Libraries' employee or department:
      • Give the relevant contact information to the “caller” (email, phone, URL, etc.). When feasible, make sure the person to whom you are referring is available (e.g., not on vacation).
        • **Try to confirm UCI Libraries' employees' availability before referring a patron.**
      • If you are unsure if you should make a referral, create a ticket, and provide an internal note. Reference/GML will follow up as necessary with the appropriate departments and the patron.
      • Our goal: Ideally, the patron should not be required to make a second contact. You should tell the patron that they will be contacted shortly by the person to which you are referring the question.
  • However...DO NOT refer patrons to library staff in Technical Processing departments (Cataloging, Acquisitions, etc.). If information from that department is required, gather it yourself and pass it along to the patron. 
    • Or mark the chat as a Ticket and provide an internal note. Reference/GML will follow up as necessary with the appropriate departments and the patron.
  • When referring a patron to another office or unit at UCI or a non-UCI agency, library, etc:
    • Give the relevant contact information to the patron (email, phone, URL, etc.).
    • DO NOT forward questions outside the UCI Libraries. We want to ensure, to the extent possible, the privacy and confidentiality of the patron and his/her question. 

 (Adapted from the Ask a Librarian Handbook at UCI)

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