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LibAnswers Best Practices and Training: Chat Training Manual

This guide gives Library staff information on using LibAnswers to provide reference and circulation service to library patrons. The guide includes information on best practices for providing service to patrons virtually through the LibAnswers Dashboard an

Setting up and Logging in

  1. Login to LibAnswers with your user name and password. This will open to the LibApps Dashboard.
  2. Click on LibApps from the top left drop down, and go to your account, either by selecting "My Account" or clicking on your email address.
  3. Change your password from the preassigned one if you have not already.
  4. Change how your name appears in the public chat widget, by typing a new name into the nickname box.

Note: Firefox works better than Internet Explorer for the Chat notification features.

Image showing My Account tab:

Turning off AskUs Notifications

You are not expected to answer AskUs questions outside of Chat during your Chat shift. If AskUs notifications are on, the envelope on the top right side of the Chat Activity box will be orange. This means you will see questions from AskUs in the Chat box, which will be marked as "Ticket".

  • AskUs questions are handled by the email reference group. If you are not part of this group, turn AskUs notifications off to avoid accidentally claiming a ticket.

Turning off AskUs notifications in Chat

  1. Click the orange envelope button.
  2. Uncheck the box next to "AskUs".

Starting and Ending Your Shift

Starting Your Shift

  1. Check your speaker and headset volume.
  2. Login to LibAnswers.
  3. Click the red "You are signed out" button, which will open a new window.

Image showing "You are signed out" button:

       4. Send your colleague a chat to let them know that you are taking over.

Ending Your Shift

  1. Wait for the next chat member to come online before leaving Chat. If they are late, call them as a gentle reminder.
  2. Click the blue "Go Offline" button in the top right corner.


Answering a Chat and Entering Reference Statistics

To answer a chat, click the yellow "Answer" button in the chat, and type your answer in the chat box that pops up on the bottom right

Image showing chat window with Answer button highlighted:


1. Greet the patron, including thanking them for using the service.

  • Refer directly to the subject of the patron's inquiry.

2. Let the patron know if you are checking something.

3. To find an answer, search helpful tools like the Library Catalogue, University of Waterloo website, and Google. See Contact and Resources.

4. End the transaction by asking, "Is there anything I can help you with?"

5. Thank the patron for using the reference service.

6. Add Ref. Analytics directly in the chat window:

  • A Ref. Analytics box will pop up, and some fields will automatically fill out.
  • Fill out Mode (Chat), Transaction level, and Duration in minutes.

Image showing chat window with Add to Analytics icon highlighted:

7. If you close the chat window without adding the transaction, add it directly in Ref. Analytics.

  • Go to Lib Answers>Ref. Analytics>Add Transaction.
  • Change the dataset (Virtual Reference), and fill out the mode (Chat).

Answering Circulation Questions Over Chat

If you are asked a circulation question over Chat, follow these steps:

1. Phone the Circulation Desk (Porter, x84883; Davis, x36913) for an immediate answer.

  • For questions about patron accounts (i.e. blocked accounts, expiration dates), call or email Gail Henry at Davis.

2. Alternatively, tell the patron you will be a few minutes, and physically ask at the Circulation Desk.

3. If you are unable to get a response, switch to email reference, by emailing Circulation at

Transferring and Referring Chats

There may be times when you have to transfer a chat.

1. For complex or specialized questions, refer the patron for additional specialized help. There are several options for continuing the reference transaction, including:

  • Provide them with email contact for a liaison librarian, or other staff member.
  • To allow you more time to find an answer, change to email reference.
  • Suggest the patron come to the library.
  • Link to a subject guide.

2. If your shift has ended and you are helping a patron, alert the staff member that is taking over from you that you will be finishing up with them.

3. Add Ref. Analytics. For straight transfers, add Ref. Analytics using a transaction level of 1 - Directional.

Adding Files to Chats

You may need to add a file to a chat conversation, for example, to send a PDF or a screenshot.

  1. To add files to a chat conversation, click the paperclip "attachment" icon at the top of the chat box.
  2. This will open a pop-up where you can choose the file from your computer.
  3. Click upload to finish. The file will appear as a link in your chat box.

Staff and Public Interfaces

The staff side of Chat:

Image showing the staff side of chat:


The public side of Chat: