Sunday, 29 January 2012

CLIC Social Media Event: Cardiff University Virtual Librarian Service

The next presentation was from Andrew Blackmore, introducing the Cardiff University 'Ask a Librarian' service.

The service is open Monday – Friday, 9.00-5.00, and is staffed on a semi voluntary basis.  It allows students to participate in live webchats with members of library staff to answer any queries they have.  It is also possible for links to urls and file attachments to be sent through the system, and students have the option to email a transcript of the conversation to themselves for future reference.  Likewise staff are also able to keep conversation transcripts, and reading through each others has been a useful learning tool.  Staff also have the possibility to chat to each other through the system, and transfer calls if they feel they are not the best qualified to deal with a particular query.

“Librarians are heroes”
It had a soft launch back in September 2010, and results have shown it to be very promising.  99.1% of students queried found the service either useful or helpful, and if service wasn’t there 11% said would give up on their query.  They have even found they've been getting queries from students actually sitting in the library!

So far the feedback has primarily asked for longer hours and the service to be available over the weekend.  Goals for the future include, formalising the staffing arrangements and possibly extending the service hours.  Although they currently can only guaranteed availability 9.00-5.00, Monday – Friday, they do try to do extra if there is someone available.

Andrew then did a live Ask a Librarian demo for us, and everyone was very impressed with how quick the response time was!

He finished up his presentation by encouraging anyone interested in adding the service to their own library, that it was not too expensive to buy and that the code is very easy to embed.


  1. Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again...

    Cardiff University

  2. They have even found they've been getting queries from students actually sitting in the library, your blog which help us in increasing our knowledge.