Information Services @ Sno-Isle

The spot where information about information lives

Archive for the category “Reference guidelines”

Generic logins at service desk computers

At yesterday’s Reference Services Committee meeting there was an interesting discussion about the generic login for staff service desk computers.  After a lot of back and forth, we’ve come up with the following recommendations:

  1. The generic login is a group effort.  Password updates should be communicated to everyone.
  2. Have IE, Chrome, and Firefox available on the computer.  You never know which browser is going to give you fits and starts.  For example, AllData is not compatible with Chrome at this time; it works in IE or Firefox.  And it helps IT if you include the browser name in any Tech Reports
  3. The bookmarks or favorites associated with each browser should be agreed upon by staff working at that service point.
  4. Out of courtesy to your co-workers, don’t rearrange the desktop without discussing the arrangement with the whole team.

We also have a question for you–if the computer was crashing and you could only save 3 of the staff favorites or bookmarks in a browser, what would you save?  These are usually the things that you found after a significant amount of work on a question.  Post your response to this blog!


Homebound Customer Service

Last week we learned that the Everett Public Library would be discontinuing their homebound service, effective June 1, 2013.  One of their customers was a former “heavy hitter” on Sno-Isle Libraries, often asking multiple libraries to work on the same question.  After talking with Leslie Moore, I think that we’ve come up with a service plan that we can use to avoid everyone jumping through the same hoop, printing the same information, and mailing it to the customer.  We will use our Ask a Librarian By E-Mail form filled out as seen below.  Just take the information down and submit the form.  There’s no need to explain that the request may be completed by another library.


Requests come to the QuestionPoint Administrator who will assign the question to a specific library and watch to make sure that there are not duplicate requests being assigned.  Please make sure that the customer’s name and mailing address are in the Question/Comment box.

Participant Evaluation Forms End 3/31/12

Almost every Information Services Measurement Participant Evaluation Form reports the highest level of learning and satisfaction by our customers.  We do not need to continue this method of measurement beyond March 31, 2012.  You no longer need to complete the Participant Evaluation Form after Saturday, March 31, 2012.

Thank you all for continuing to complete the Information Services Measurement Form ( to count Book-A-Librarian and proctoring services.  Please continue to complete this form ongoing.

Please share this update with your Information Services staff and direct any questions to Christa Werle, x7160 or Terry Beck, x7016.


Thank you!

RINCs that go Reference

I don’t see nearly as many RINCs as my colleagues in Collection Development, but almost every genealogy or local history request ends up on my virtual plate.  This just a gentle reminder to check our E-resources (AncestryLibrary and HeritageQuest) as part of the RINC verification process and to make that little tic mark on the RINC to let us know that you checked.  It’s always better to be able to serve our customers at the point of need and not 8-10 weeks later.

So, how do you know that something could be genealogy or local history?  Watch for these buzz words in the titles:

  • Family history
  • County (city, community, etc.) history
  • Cemetery
  • Records
  • Census
  • Vital records–birth, marriage, death
  • Lists
It will never be perfect and there’s always a title that surprises us when it’s local history.  Just give it your best shot!

Proctoring: Guidelines and Such

As many of you may have heard, King County Library System no longer offers proctoring service for their customers.  We’ve experienced a slight increase in our demand for proctoring in the libraries close to KCLS locations.  Please remember to share our proctoring guidelines with anyone who asks about this service.

One of the most recent requests came from a customer who asked if we could scan and email the test back to the university.  Although several libraries have scanners, the Reference Services Committee decided that they could not endorse this practice since a scanner was not available at every library.

Reference Survey Week in October

Reference Survey Week October 16-22, 2011   (That’s Sunday through Saturday)

Yes, it’s that time of the year again.

  • At the beginning of each day—place a survey form at each service desk, make hash marks for the type of question and whether it was in-person or by phone/email.  Since we’re studying time with this survey, it’s important to keep the marks in the correct box.
  • At the end of each day, total the number of questions in each box.  The person who’s responsible for reporting the statistics will take a blank form and fill it in with the branch totals for each type of question and time of day.  If you’re more comfortable with Excel, that’s fine.  If you use Excel, feel free to submit the spreadsheet via email.  Make sure that you identify your branch on this form—the three letter branch code is fine.
  • At the end of the week, send the 7 forms (one for each day) with the branch totals to Terry Beck @ SRV.  Don’t send the whole bundle of forms!

The form is found on the intranet :

Information Request Form

The Information Request Form in its current online configuration is about to become obsolete.  The Reference Services Committee began to implement this change in March, when the Whidbey Island libraries beta-tested a new referral system using our Ask-a-Librarian Email form.  It’s shorter, less cumbersome, and it’s always available from the Ask a Librarian page, including from the catalog only workstations.

Library staff or customers can fill in this form, and it’s especially great if library staff instruct customers on how to fill out the form so they can continue to use it inside or outside the library in the future to get help 24/7. Of course, we’re always here to help, but this is a great way to streamline things on our end and enhance service on the customer’s end.

Here’s why we’re trying it:

  •  Using the email web form option is a shorter form than the Information Request form.
  • This process streamlines workflow and allows for great customer service.
  • The question goes through the same process, gets the same amount of attention, research, and follow-up as all other questions.
  • The answer will be entered into our Knowledge Base and we will be able to retrieve that answer again in the future, rather than repeating all of the work.

A few other details:

  •  Though the “E-mail address” and “Confirm e-mail address” fields are mandatory, you can use a dummy email ( as long as you enter the same string of characters in both fields.  We will use the library card number or phone field to follow up with the customer.
  • Questions submitted via this form will be reviewed by SRV staff and answered, or assigned to a large regional library or subject reference center and answered.  Typically the question is answered or the customer contacted for more information within 2 business days.

RINC requests with an ILL status

When a RINC has the status of ILL, that means that Joe Munson is working on the request and trying to find the item for the patron.  We all know that people change their minds and sometimes they’ll call their local library and tell them that they no longer need that item.  If that happens, please contact Joe and let him know what’s going on.  Do not delete or complete the request if it’s in ILL.

Standard Disclaimer

If you haven’t already, please add the following standard disclaimer language to the signature of your building’s reference email account (    Any emails to our customers in response to reference questions and resource referrals should probably also include it.  Thank you for adding this bit of consistency to our outgoing correspondence!

“Information provided by the Sno-Isle Libraries does not imply recommendation or endorsement, is not interpreted and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a (law, engineering, financial, health care, etc.) provider.”

Questions?  Christa Werle or Terry Beck.

Signing Off on a WTBBL Application

You may have been or will be approached to sign a certification of eligibility for a Washington Talking Book & Braille Library Application for Free Library Service.  Individuals are instructed to have a doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, nurse, therapist, or a professional staff member of a hospital, institution, social welfare agency, or a library certify their eligibility.   This is something that we CAN do.

Before signing the Certification of Eligibility, you must ask which condition they claim.  You can sign off if they indicate Blindness, Visual Impairment, Physical Disability, or Deafness and Blindness.  You cannot certify Reading Disability as federal law mandates that only doctors of medicine or osteopathy are allowed to certify cases of reading disability.

Because the application requires a professional staff member, applicants may have to schedule a meeting with a branch librarian to get their application signed in some of our medium or small library buildings.

Any questions?  Please contact Terry Beck, x7016.

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