What is Ask a Librarian?
Ask a Librarian is a new reference service provided by Carlyle Campbell Library. It utilizes instant messaging technology to create a real-time chat alternative for your reference assistance.
How does Ask a Librarian work?
Ask a Librarian enables users to send instant messages to Reference Department staff without having to download software or subscribe to an IM service. Users can ask reference questions and receive instant, real-time answers without leaving the computer or coming to the library.
A random user ID (e.g., meeboguest12286) is automatically assigned when an Ask a Librarian chat box is opened. This nickname can be easily changed: highlight it, type a new nickname over the existing one, and hit enter.
What kinds of questions can I ask/you answer?
Users may ask any question they would normally ask at the Reference Desk. However, instant messaging is best suited to basic questions or those that can be answered within 15-20 minutes. Complicated reference questions or in-depth research consultations would be best suited to an in-person inquiry at the Reference Desk or by contacting a specific Reference Librarian. In addition, please refrain from asking technology-related questions (e.g., How do I use Microsoft PowerPoint? or Why can't I access my e-mail?) as these should be directed to Technology Services.
Who can use Ask a Librarian?
In addition to Meredith College students, faculty, staff and Friends, the library and its services—including Ask a Librarian—are open to the public. Please note that if you do not have borrowing privileges at Carlyle Campbell Library, you may not be able to access the resources suggested to you in the chat session.
When is Ask a Librarian open?
Ask a Librarian is staffed during all hours the Reference Desk is open (M-Th 9am-5pm & 6pm-10pm; Fri 9am-5pm; Sat 11am-5pm; Sun 1pm-9pm).
How do I begin a chat session?
Users can access Ask a Librarian in two different ways:
- through the Ask a Librarian page: simply type into the chat box and hit enter to send an instant message to Reference Department staff
- through the banner at the top of the library catalog, databases page, reserves page, or other library web page: click on the Ask a Librarian link on the banner to launch a pop-up chat window that will enable you to IM Reference staff while remaining on the page you're viewing; type into the chat box and hit enter to send an instant message
What if no one answers when I try to chat?
If no one answers you, check to make sure you are within our hours of operation. If you contact us within our hours of operation and no one answers, we may be assisting another patron; feel free to wait a few minutes, as we will respond to you as quickly as possible. If outside the Ask a Librarian hours, you may leave us a message by typing into the chat box just as you would to start a chat session. Alternately, you can contact us by e-mail, telephone, or by contacting an individual Reference Librarian. If you leave a message during our off-hours, please be sure to include your contact details so we may get back in touch with you.
How do I give feedback about the Ask a Librarian service?
Users can give feeback about their Ask a Librarian experience by e-mailing the Reference Department. Please remember that Ask a Librarian is still a work-in-progress. Your feedback will help us improve this service and better serve the Meredith community.
Welcome! Here's a list of common questions and answers to help you better understand and use Ask a Librarian.