Recently, our library has been studying ways to improve the quality of our instant messaging reference service. While we’re thrilled the popularity of IM reference has continued to grow (according to our data, the number of questions we answered nearly quintupled during the two year period from 2008-2010!), increasing popularity can also lead to not-so-fun growing pains.
Once such instance is when, typically during evenings or weekends, our reference services are single-staffed. Juggling multiple in-person and virtual reference interactions can make it difficult for one person to provide prompt service, leading to frustrations from librarians and students alike.
As we have been looking for ways to alleviate such situations, I was happy to see LibraryH3lp debut their new Frequently Asked Questions (long-time readers might remember we discussed using LibraryH3lp to address previous IM conundrums). Although I’ve see other examples of FAQ’s on various libraries’ websites, LibraryH3lp makes it easy to create a searchable (and mobile friendly!) FAQ site you can build to supplement other reference service resources.
Building the FAQ site is relatively straightforward. LibraryH3lp users can start right away using the “FAQ” tab in their admin site.
First, check out the “Questions” tab where you can add questions and answers. You can also assign each question to any number of topics, which will then be browse-able on your live FAQ site. You can also visit the “Questions” tab after your page is set up to view usage statistics like the number of views and likes or dislikes per question.
The “Pages” tab allows you to customize specific features of your FAQ page. Here, you can specify the URL, assign a theme, enter additional contact information, and customize how the LibraryH3lp chat widget appears on the FAQ page. Additionally, you can customize any section of the page with standard HTML and/or your own CSS through using the “Templates.”
We’re hoping that sending our chat users a quick “Hello, we’ll be right with you!” message along link to a more in-depth, searchable FAQ page while they are waiting for further assistance will help improve the responsiveness of our IM reference services. While this certainly does not provide the same depth and level of service their eventual chat with librarian will, it is quick and simple to set up and could be a good resource for users who have a commonly asked question or just need to be pointed to some quick facts about the library.
We’re just starting to get our FAQ page set-up, and I will provide updates to this post as we progress and finalize our page. In the mean time, does your library have a similar FAQ resource you’ve found successful? We’d love to see it!