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Chat with a Librarian

January 9, 2023

During the pandemic my library experimented with online reference chat. While it was nice to offer this for students, with our limited staff we ran into issues keeping regular chat hours, which in turn led to low usage. Because of all this we ended up discontinuing our chat service as classes returned to campus and we returned to the library. We had given up on the idea of a chat service when we were approached about joining the Power Library service Chat with a Librarian. Chat with a Librarian is maintained by Power Library and HSLC, it brings librarians from different institutions together to collectively staff their chat service 24 hours a day. Each library must commit to providing a set number of hours each week that their staff will answer questions on chat. This lets you provide significant hours of chat coverage to your students without have to be on chat constantly. As part of this you may have to help patrons at other institutions and librarians at other institutions may help your students. This is made possible by each library filling out detailed documentation about their library that other librarians can reference to enable them to help patrons. Chat with a Librarian integrates into your website using a simple popup icon similar to most chat software. My library is rolling this service out to our students this Spring and I’m hopeful the increased coverage will lead to great usage by students. If you are interested in Chat with a Librarian you can get more details here.

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