By the end of June 2004 I had a critical mass of transcripts that were rated Excellent by patron surveys, with the majority of the rest rated as Good, and examination of my transcripts by the personnel director of the service as well as my mentor through my directed fieldwork. I received my MLIS in June of 2004 and was offered a position as backup librarian. It is unusual for someone to be hired out of school—I had a year’s supply of combined academic and public transcripts that they could review.
Those surveys show up in our email boxes, and we get comments and corrections from librarians from the patrons’ home institutions as well as the QP quality management team.
If we draw a blank, there is almost always somebody else we may collaborate with
The average backup librarian does end up having to deal with multiple simultaneous sessions on a regular basis. Multiple means two or three at a time, though I have dealt with as many as 6 simultaneously. My boss has done 10. If we totally avoided that we would probably have to staff very heavily and the service would cost you more
”—30 seconds with an unchanged screen is an eternity to the patron, though it seems to go by in a flash when you are looking for a 1930s soap powder slogan for somebody’s marketing project ”—30 seconds with an unchanged screen is an eternity to the patron, though it seems to go by in a flash when you are looking for a 1930s soap powder slogan for somebody’s marketing project
Who is that Co-op Librarian?
Nicolette Warisse Sosulski
Business Librarian, Portage
Staff Reference Librarian,
Who are we and where do we
Cornell-University of Washington queue in library
email reference in classes through work on the
Internet Public Library
Washington State Virtual Reference project
training as an evaluator on the Librarians Index
to the Internet
public library chat reference internship with 24/7
March 2004-June 2004, hired as staff librarian
Day job business librarian in a public library,
where I field academic reference questions each
day as well as those by members of the general
We don’t need sleep
I work mostly on
QP between the
hours of 9 pm
and 7 am EST.
Sunday at 5 am I
am the only
person on for the
(and the UK).
Who are we and where do we
My other experience:
Training in medical
field as a health
Degrees in English
Marriage to a
/film studies grad
And for 5 years I
was a dorm mother
at the University of
My Colleagues include
University subject bibliographers
in religion, Chicana studies,
Romance Languages and
Librarians who have “hit for the
cycle”: public, school, academic &
Librarians married to faculty
Public librarians trained in the
academic reference milieu in a
program developed with input by
librarians such as Stephen
Francoeur and Nancy Huling
All of us have our transcripts evaluated by
The patrons, when they fill out a
The quality control staff on QP
The home library of the patron
during all shifts
Ipswitch, a freestanding
IM program--we log in
during each shift
IM imbedded in the
So what is it like when a backup
librarian logs in?
There are the queues (I
man 68 including the UK
during their middle of the
Chat monitoring tool
The institution’s policy
page—we open this
And of course the library web
page, google, etc.
The institution’s databases
Policy Pages and Library Websites
We look at everything…
Can the backup librarian get into
at least the catalog and list of
databases? Or are they hidden
behind a login?
Have you given her an ID or
library card number? We promise
we will not give it out.
Is there a map of the library on
When something changes at your
library do you update your
website AND your policy pages?
How often do you update?
Are any of your links broken?
Are those wonderful print archives
at your institution described
anywhere at all on your web page
or in your catalog?
Do you have a site map or search
box for the library page?
Of course there are some things
that only you know or can access
Is there good parking today?
Why doesn’t my library card
Can you override it so I can
renew all the books I have
What do I have checked out?
Why do I show 58.00 in
Why don’t you have all the
required texts for for my
Why is there no paper in the
copier on 4 North?
We will refer to the local
institution by phone or
email, especially to a subject
appropriate. We check
library hours to see when the
soonest the patron can reach
somebody will be.
Sometimes there are technical
If your catalog or web page is down
the same time every day for updates,
put that on your policy page.
If you are having longterm problems
with a database login—put the
workaround on the policy page or on
Sometimes we cannot talk a patron
through getting into cobrowsing and
.the list of databases requires a login.
Cobrowsing can be problemmatic due
to the patron’s security settings or due
to multiple patrons being handled by
the same librarian at the same time—
if one or more patrons is in cobrowse,
whenever they respond that window
goes to the forefront, possibly causing
the librarian to respond to the wrong
And speaking of Multiples
Multiples are not a horrible thing
If we are “in the zone”, patrons
may not even realize that we are
dealing with someone other than
If we are going to have delays we
will advise that there will be
delays and the interchanges will
be slower. They then have the
option to wait, call back later, or
sometimes wait for an e-mail
response, if this is not an
assignment due tomorrow.
Often the ones who cannot wait
and have something due that day
may be logging in at a time when
there would have been no bricks
and mortar reference possibility
whatsoever—one third of a
librarian is way better than one
hundred percent of zero.
Multiples will occur more and
more as traffic grows faster than
Intermittent post source reference interviewing—sending
the patron and querying him on how it meets his needs.
Statements like “I am going to send you several sources—
let me know which is closest to what you were looking for,
since I am working with several of you.
Avoiding one patron’s dominating the entire librarian pool
on staff (“if I open 4 sessions I can get 4 librarians to each
do one of my assignments, thus leaving me more time…”)
Apologizing for delays before they occur if possible.
Send a message like “I am still searching” or “this is
challenging—still trying to locate something” even if an
information source has not yet been found.
Let the patrons’ responses give input into the pace of your
Types of Queries
Lots of bibliographic instruction
Things for you to think about as
your utilization increases…
We are all trying to develop rapport every day, just as all of
us are with patrons through every format
Sometimes, of course, we
just can’t tell where the
patron is coming from…
Sometimes they give us
Please feel free to let us know how
to help your patrons better
Susan D. Barb
QuestionPoint 24/7 Cooperative Staff Manager