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LibAnswers Best Practices and Training: Ref. Analytics

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

Tracking Statistics Using Ref. Analytics

All virtual reference transactions should be added to Ref. Analytics. Go to Ref. Analytics>Add Transaction, where a fill-in-the-blank form will appear. Fill out the details below:

Question: Fill out the question asked by the patron (optional).

Answer: Fill out your answer (optional).

Where are you?: Choose Virtual Reference as your dataset.

Modes: For Virtual Reference, choose either Chat, Email, or SMS.

Transaction: Choose level 1, 2, or 3. For more information, see Transaction Levels.

  • Click Submit to submit the current transaction, but keep the analytics fields you have filled out. This is useful if you are entering many similar transactions at once.
  • Click Submit & Clear to submit and clear the analytics.

Image showing Add a Transaction page in RefAnalytics:

Transaction Levels - Example Questions

Staff entering statistics in RefAnalytics are asked to select a transaction level. The following definitions and examples explain the scope of each transaction level.

Level I - Non Resource-Based

Directional: In-library or external directions. Examples include:

  • “How do I get to the SLC?”
  • “Where are the group study rooms?”
  • “Where are the librarians’ offices?”

Technical Service: Staff troubleshooting of computers, printers, photocopiers. Similar to Level 2 Operations and Technical Resources, but includes fixing technical problems, but not teaching how to use the system. Examples include:

  • “Why can’t I login to my library account?”
  • "The printer is not working, what do I do?"

Policy and Enforcement: Policy inquiries, including circulation policies, hours, as well as interpretation and enforcement of library policies. Examples include:

  • “How many times can I renew a book?”
  • “What is the policy on booking a study room?”
  • “Where can I return an ILL book?”

Supplies: Examples include:

  • “Could you put staples into the stapler?”
  • “Do you have a Band-Aid?”
  • “Can I borrow a pen?”

Other: Miscellaneous non-resource based interactions not included elsewhere. Examples include:

  • “Is the Writing Centre open?”
  • “Can I get a proctor for my exam?”
  • “Can you help me find a book in the stacks?”

Level II - Skills-Based

Library and Reference Resources: Skill-based interactions requiring information on finding and using library resources. Examples include:

  • "Do you have this article?" (you are given the title of the article). Or, "Do you have books/articles on...?" (you are given the topic)
  • "How do I use the Library catalogue to find a book?"
  • “Do you have information on business trends and marketing?” and then showing the patron a subject guide and they decide what to do with the resource
  • “Could you help me find a technical report?”; “Do you have information on how to cite in APA style?" (these questions may be referred to a reference service provider).

Operations and Technical Resources: Skill-based interactions requiring instructions on how to use the Library's technical resources. Similar to Level 1 Technical Services, but includes teaching a patron how to perform a task. Examples include:

  • “How do I use the microfiche reader to save images to a USB?”
  • “How do I connect to the library’s proxy server”
  • “How do I book a study room?”
  • “How do I connect to Eduroam?”
  • “How do I print out my document?”

Level III - Strategy-Based

Research Strategies: Research strategy-relation interactions. Users don't just need to know where to search for their topic, but how to search for their topic as well. Examples include:

  • “Do you have information on business trends and marketing?” and then showing the student a subject guide, and taking them through search strategies, demonstrating how to refine search terms, use Boolean operators, and conduct searches in various databases
  • “Can you help me find material for a research paper in fire safety?”
  • “How do I find information on the history of energy use in China?” (these questions should be referred to a reference service provider) 

Setting Your Default Dataset

Add analytics more quickly by setting your default dataset to the one you use the most often.

1. Click on your email address in the top right corner of LibAnswers to access your account.

2. Select the location you provide reference from the most under "Default Analytics Instance".

3. Save.