Answered By: Kathryn Park
Last Updated: May 13, 2015     Views: 155

Hi! We love LibAnswers, and so do our students. We have 644 questions, but they have been viewed 5,049 times since September 2010 (when we first started). This is a lengthy answer. I am not sure what you mean about being able to see both forms?

We are finding that about half the students enter their question and half find the answer via the auto suggest function or as a result of seeing it in our LibGuides, Facebook, or Twitter accounts. As we have our meebo chat widget embedded in both LibGuides and LibAnswers we get a lot of questions that way, too, 126 to date. There are stats on questions not submitted and we do have some. After reviewing though we usually see that the student may not have been happy with phrasing or spelling and simply started over and then submitted.

Maybe this will help> Here is how we set up LibAnswers in stages. A lot of info, but this is what I found crucial:

  1. First I explored LibAnswers and set up the metadata fields for analytics, which we opted for, and topics. Since we had been keeping data in our own homegrown database an all reference questions for several years, this was a big help. I have since added a few more. The metadata I use for stats. The topics I use for patron accessibility and to create feeds for related LibGuides. I also feed to our Facebook and Titter accounts.  I tried to keep topics consistent with LibGuides subjects for that reason.
  2. Set up the layout of our LibAnswers home page and system wide settings. Kept consistent with our LibGuides.
  3. I then played with the various ways to enter Q&A into LibAnswers.  Decided that for our purposes to go with Staff mode
  4. Myself and another librarian began entering all ref Q&A we answered. We did make all features available at that time.
  5. After reviewing, we decided on some best practices, such as always linking back to relevant LibGuides and trying to make each question understandable to those other than the original asker.
  6. After reviewing, I also tweaked metadata.
  7. We had been using Meebo before LibAnswers and have the chat widget on every Librarian profile in LibGuides. We still get more of our questions through Meebo than directly through LibAnswers, but as we expose students to LibAnswers in classes, more students are accessing LibAnswers directly. Meebo has been key, because even though you can enter stand by alerts mode in LibAnswers, we found that we were having unacceptable delays in getting to answers.
  8. We added our Gmail account both to Meebo and under our LibAnswers Google Talk account notifications. We turned on audio notification, a sound plays every time we get a question via Meebo or LibAnswers. Very effective. FYI: We all log into Meebo at the same time with the same account.
  9. We also had a distribution list (created by our IT years ago, before LibAnswers) that goes to all library ref staff when we get a ref question. So we all get the notification emails and the notifications via Meebo with audio. It makes a fairly fool proof system.LibGuide and LibAnswers are now part of all our Library instruction. We frequently get tests during classes—students saying hello to see if it works.
  10. We also promoted campus wide and to instructors.
  11. I am trained other library staff to record all Q&A in the staff mode. That is Cir and Lab staff. They are not used to recording data nor making it for public consumption, so we are taking it more slowly. At this point Circ staff now enter their Q&A on the public side as well.
  12. We opted for SMS. To date we have received 33 text questions. We are notified of these the same way as the other questions, Meebo makes a beep and we receive email. One best practice here is to use or for URLs.
  13. The librarians love it, circ staff love it, and most important our students and faculty love it. Even our faculty sometimes use LibAnswers to ask us questions. And we have had several from librarians in other libraries! :)
  14. We are actually getting more questions now. At the same time since the answers are so well publicized and distributed, our LibAnswers data show that many students are using LibAnswers to find the answers to their questions via auto suggest existing answers and/or clicking on links to existing Q&A from feeds.

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