LRS just released its evaluation of the 24/7 virtual reference services AskColorado and AskAcademic, based on surveys of nearly 1,300 users of these services during 2011.
LRS has served as the external evaluator of AskColorado since its inception in 2003. Across our five evaluations (ranging from 2004-2011), we’ve found that user satisfaction with the service has steadily increased. In 2011, the service received its highest ratings yet, with four out of five users rating the librarians as “very helpful” or “helpful,” and six out of seven users saying that they would be “very likely” or “likely” to use the service again.
At a time when libraries are struggling with service interruptions due to branch closures and reduced hours, respondents’ comments indicate that AskColorado fills these gaps by enabling users to connect with a librarian from any location at any time. As one user commented, “My expectations were low, given it was midnight on a Sunday night, but [the virtual librarian] gave me one of the best customer support sessions I’ve ever had. Friendly, professional, not working from a stilted script.”
In addition, AskColorado also helps to raise awareness of library resources. “Learned how the library can help me” has been a top outcome of using the service across all five years of our evaluations. Respondents may even use the services to gauge whether a trip to the library is worth their time. For example, one user commented: “This feature showed me how I might find info at the library, making it worth a trip downtown on a Saturday. LOVED this.”
The highlights of the evaluation are available as a Fast Facts at http://www.lrs.org/documents/fastfacts/305_2011AskCOAskAcademicEvaluation.pdf, or you can view the full report at http://www.lrs.org/documents/closer_look/AskCOAskAcademic2011_Closer_Look_Report.pdf.
Following the popular ‘unConference’ model, AskColorado/AskAcademic (ASK) held its first UnWorkshop on Oct. 13th. Unconferences are loosely structured gatherings in which participants drive the content. Forty librarians attended, and loosely wrangled by members of the ASK Quality Assurance Committee, introduced themselves and offered topics for discussion and learning. Participants then gathered in small groups and discussed topics such as how to effectively assist students when classes log into the service; best practices for working with college students; managing excitable customers, and more.
ASK has held an annual workshop for the past seven years, but this was the first unworkshop. While new to participants, the majority were excited about the format. Continue reading ‘AskColorado/AskAcademic Holds First UnWorkshop’
Kris & Sharon celebrate 8 years of AskColorado/Ask Academic with chocolate decadence.
AskColorado/AskAcademic celebrates 8 years of successful 24/7 virtual reference today! Current Director of Library Development at the State Library, Sharon Morris, launched AskColorado in 2003. Since that time, AC/AA Coordinator Kris Johnson has grown the service to become the AskColorado/AskAcademic Virtual Reference Cooperative. Many libraries and librarians have worked collaboratively with Kris to grow AC/AA into what it is today; its success is as much a tribute to them as to the State Library staff who coordinate the service.
Kris states, “We believe in our organization, and we continue to embrace and accept member feedback in a collaborative environment–all with the goal of improving service to patrons. We look forward to the current year with anticipation, and wonder what new changes and challenges lie ahead.”
Posted on behalf of Kris Johnson:
Happy Spring. A few new things have been happening at AskColorado/AskAcademic since the start of the year that I thought library folks might be interested in hearing about:
1. Our after-hours service is growing: Last February I started our own after-hours service, hiring librarians in the metro area to staff the service evenings, nights, and weekends. We started with a crew of nine librarians, and have grown to a current staff of fifteen. We *may* have some openings for part-time librarians coming-up. Continue reading ‘After-Hours Service, Widgets and More’
Or at least we hope you’ll give it a shot, once the dust settles.
When the Colorado Virtual Library (CVL) was launched over a decade ago, it was a new and exciting resource, unlike anything available in the Colorado library community at that time. But times have changed, and we regret to confess, the CVL hasn’t. The way that we use the internet and the kinds of tools available to us are changing at a breakneck pace, and the rate of change is only accelerating. It’s with all of this in mind that we’re approaching a complete redesign of the CVL.
While technical decisions are still in the works, we know we’ll be building an ever-changing collection of content modules (more on that in a minute!) around a central core of heavily-used library services such as AskColorado’s awesome 24/7 reference service, SWIFT interlibrary loan (soon with more patron-initiated functionality!), and access to valuable digital collections. Those content modules will be developed on an as-needed basis, allowing us to be more responsive to your needs and those of your patrons. Continue reading ‘Not a User of the Colorado Virtual Library? You Will Be!’
What do E*Trade, REI, Godiva Chocolatier and AskColorado have in common?
Beginning Feb 1, they will all use the same web-based customer-support and communication technology, InstantService.
In the last few years, libraries have seen an explosion in online communication tools available for reaching and serving patrons. The use of IM, text messaging, online chat and related technologies are becoming embedded in the fabric of libraries’ online service offerings. Given this changing landscape in technology and the evolving need for libraries to flexibly serve their patrons, the AskColorado community and AskColorado Steering Committee have endorsed a migration to this new software platform, InstantService. Continue reading ‘The NEW AskColorado: utility and coolness combined’
Recently Cory Casciato, a writer for Denver’s alternative newspaper Westword, stepped into the world of AskColorado. What this writer received through the 24/7 virtual reference service was the kind of top-notch service that many of AskColorado’s unsung librarians offer on a daily basis.
The librarian tested by Casciato in this particular online interaction was Martha Durgy, a.k.a. “Marty,” from Pitkin County Public Library. And boy did Martha do AskColorado librarians proud!
Read the Westword story/blog post about this encounter at: AskColorado has the answers
Continue reading ‘AskColorado wins over Westword writer’
Yesterday, a press release about AskColorado evolving to become a revenue-generating operation appeared on library listservs and this very web site.
There were some factual errors contained in that message. The AskColorado Steering Committee wishes to clarify.
AskColorado does NOT and will NOT charge end users. This includes third-grade students. Continue reading ‘The Truth Behind AskColorado’
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
COLORADO– As of April 1, 2009, AskColorado will initiate a revenue-generating program where patrons will be charged $1,066.00 (+ tax) per question asked through the innovative web-based service. The decision to initiate charges back to end users was made during a recent 28-minute AskColorado Steering Committee meeting. Continue reading ‘AskColorado to Initiate Chargebacks’
AskColorado received national attention this past week as the ALA Midwinter Meeting rolled into Denver.
AskColorado librarians visited with ALA Midwinter attendees at an “AskColorado Information Center,” part of the Denver Public Library / CAL booth in the exhibits hall. In addition to imparting local wisdom to the many librarians that descended on Denver, Continue reading ‘Asked and Answered’