May 16, 2016

AskAway puts research help at your fingertips this summer

Even when Alloway Library's team of professional librarians are away from the Research Help Desk or out of their offices, library users can get outstanding research help online through AskAway:  BC's online reference service.

AskAway service providers from across the province bring their reference expertise to each chat session, empowering learners to develop research and critical thinking skills.

It is a service valued by scholars throughout the province with service standards that outshine many corporate support desk services. For example, according to its 2015 Actions & Achievements Report fast facts:
  • There is a team of  more than 200 professionals from 30 institutions providing AskAway assistance to researchers each week.
  • The service is open 245 days of the year
  • There are 121 sessions per day, on average
  •  but on the busiest days of the year (March 10 & November 10 ) that goes up to 198 sessions per day
  • 54%  of all questions come from first-time users
  • 23.6 seconds was the average wait time before a call is picked-up
As AskAway approaches its tenth anniversary, it is evident that chat reference is greatly appreciated by seasoned and first-time patrons alike. In the words of one learner, “Thank you for a great service. I have used it often and have come to rely on it.”

Lindsay Tripp, a Librarian at Langara College, has worked as an AskAway service provider since 2010. She shares her thoughts on how AskAway benefits her work as a librarian and the students she serves:"This generation of students is accustomed to instantaneous communication. I think they appreciate having access to real-time help from experts at their point-of-need. AskAway blends seamlessly into their everyday online activities. Moreover, a growing number of post-secondary institutions are embracing online learning. AskAway fills in an important gap for off-campus learners who don’t have access to physical reference services through their home library. "

AskAway continues to thrive as an essential service that provides equitable, convenient, and quality research support to students across the province. After the challenge of losing external funding last year, AskAway evolved into a self-sustaining service thanks to funding and staffing contributions from partner libraries.

AskAway generates tremendous value for BC post-secondary institutions and learners, including us here at TWU
  • On average, institutions commit 7 hours a week in exchange for 67 weekly hours of chat reference
  • A medium-sized institution saves $332,574 by participating in AskAway versus offering the service alone
  • 95% of students were very likely or likely to use AskAway again
  • 91% patrons were satisfied or very satisfied with AskAway
  • Why did students choose AskAway? 
    • 60% off-campus or at home 
    • 42% searching for online resources 
    • 34% prefer online services
You can access AskAway via the library's webpage.
The service runs through the summer: 

  • Sunday to Thursday - 10:00am - 9:00pm; 
  • Friday and Saturday - 11:00am - 5:00pm

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