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LibAnswers Best Practices and Training: Dashboard 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

Department Responsibilities

When a question is submitted via virtual service points, it appears in the Dashboard. Departments have responsibilities during the week from 9-5, and on evenings and weekends.

During the week from 9-5:

  • Circulation Staff: Claim questions about account problems, reserves, connect from home, find/use RACER, etc.
     
  • Circulation or Email Reference Staff: Claim "grey area" questions about how to find and use information resources and library services.
     
  • Email Reference Staff: Claim questions about using specific information resources, developing research strategies, etc.

On evenings and weekends:

  • Circulation Staff: Claim questions about account problems, reserves, connect from home, find/use RACER, etc; how to find and use information resources and library services, as appropriate.
     
  • Leave for Next Business Day: Questions about how to find and use information resources and library services, as appropriate; questions about using specific information resources, developing research strategies, etc.

Claiming a Question in LibAnswers

The following processes are the steps to answer LibAnswers questions, from claiming the question to closing it. To claim a question in LibAnswers:

1. Look for new questions in the Dashboard.

  • Click in the eye to preview the question.

2. Click on the question to "Claim it".

Image of Ticket question with eye icon highlighted:

Answering a Question in LibAnswers

When answering virtual reference questions in LibAnswers, consider whether you can use existing tools, links, and resources.

1. Can you macro an answer?

  • A macro is a shortcut to popular questions from "Reuse Answers".
     
  • Select "Apply" in your reply box to automatically pasts the macro.

2. Can you reuse a past answer?

  • Search "Reuse Answers" by keyword, and select copy to auto fill your window.

3. Search for an answer using tools like the Library Catalogue, University of Waterloo website, and Google. See Contact and Resources.

4. Complete your answer using text editor, and add links and files as appropriate.

Image showing steps in answering a question:

5. If appropriate, copy your answer to other staff or email aliases.

6. Suggest your question and answer for the FAQ. See Adding a Question to LibAnswers FAQ.

7. Add analytics and submit as:

  • "Closed", if you have completed to transaction, including referrals.
  • "Open", if you are still working on the question, including waiting for a reply from an expert.

Image of steps taken to cc a ticket, add to FAQ, add to analytics, and closing a ticket:

Adding Internal Notes

Internal notes can be added to tickets and are only visible to staff and do not go to the patron. Internal notes help us share important information with other staff members.

How to add internal notes that are sent to fellow staff:

  1. Open the ticket.
     
  2. Click the "Post an Internal Note" tab.
     
  3. Write the note.
     
  4. Find the appropriate email address or alias in the pull down menu.
     
  5. Add Ref. Analytics if you have done some work. Do not add to RefAnalytics if you simply assigned a transfer.
     
  6. Submit as open.

Image showing steps to post and email an internal note:

Internal notes can also be used for statistical purposes, adding information to transactions in RefAnalytics.

How to add internal notes that are only recorded in RefAnalytics

  1. Open the ticket in the Create a Reply tab.
     
  2. Add your internal note
     
  3. Submit the ticket as closed

Image showing steps to post an internal note that is only recorded in RefAnalytics:

Special Cases When Answering Questions

Patron Responds After you Have Left the Dashboard

  • Even if you have closed the question, if the patron responds it will appear as "Open". You are still responsible for this question.
     
  • You will receive an email that there has been a response.

Handing over a Question at the end of your Shift

  • Add an internal note for any work you have done, and leave the question as "Open" and unclaim it.

Deleting or Closing a Question

Close a question: Keep statistics about the question, but no response is sent to the patron.

Delete a question: Remove the question from LibAnswers, including any statistics.

Adding a Question to LibAnswers FAQ

LibAnswers FAQ knowledge base is divided between Circulation and ISR. It provides answers for typical patron questions, working from answers to FAQ. If you think a question should be added:

1. Ask yourself: Is this a new question that should be in the FAQ?

  • Assess this by searching for similar questions in the FAQ Entries Knowledge Base Explorer. Go to Answers>FAQ Entries.

2. Add the transaction in Ref. Analytics as normal.

3. Select "Include this transaction in the public knowledge base."

4. Add to Group: Default.

5. Add analytics and submit.

Image showing an FAQ entry:

Referring a Question Inside the System

When expertise is required, you may need to transfer a ticket in LibAnswers.

  1. Assess whether the question should be answered by someone else.
     
  2. Ascertain that the expert is available. Otherwise, send the question to the appropriate email alias.
     
  3. Reply to the patron that their request has been referred, and provide contact information.
     
  4. Add an internal note for work you have done.
     
  5. Go to "Assign Transfer" and select a library staff member. If transferring to an email alias, all staff on the alias will be notified.
     
  6. Add analytics and submit the ticket as closed.
  • For straight transfers (without any other work done), add to Ref. Analytics using a transaction level of "1 - Directional".

Image showing steps to refer a question inside the question: 

Referring a Question Outside the System

You may have to refer a patron outside of LibAnswers system. You can hand it over to an expert, or stay active on the ticket.

  • Text message tickets must be referred using the second method, because there is no way to pass on the patron's phone number.

Referring a Ticket outside the System, by handing it over to an expert

  1. Reply to the patron saying that their request has been referred, and provide contact information.
     
  2. Copy the question details into an email, including the patron's email address.
     
  3. Send the question to the expert, with a note explaining why you are referring.
     
  4. For straight transfers (no other work done), add Ref. Analytics using a transaction level of "1 - Directional".
     
  5. Submit the ticket as closed.

Referring a Ticket outside the System, while remaining active. This method is used for text message tickets.

  1. Claim the ticket.
     
  2. Email the expert or RT (Library Help) outside of LibAnswers.
     
  3. Set the ticket to "Open". Reply to the patron, saying that you are resolving the question.
     
  4. Wait for response from expert or RT (Library Help).
     
  5. Reply to the patron with the answer.
     
  6. Submit the ticket as closed.

Turning on AskUs Notifications

Turning on AskUs notifcations allows you to get alerts for new questions in the Dashboard.

Notifications are not turned on automatically, and turn off when you refresh the LibAnswers page.

  1. Enter "Stand-By Alerts" mode.
     
  2. Keep LibAnswers open, and you will be alerted by a sound and a pop-up. The window can be minimized, but the LibAnswers tab must be selected.

Image showing stand-by alerts enabled: