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Student Worker Manual

IDEAS Student Employee Manual

LibChat Demo

LibAnswers and LibChat allow us to provide services to patrons remotely. 

The LibChat widget located on the side of this page can be used internally for practice with the LibChat software. You can also use the widget after for continued practice with a partner. 

When you've completed the training below, test your skills by taking the quiz at the end of this page. 

*Note that your supervisors will have access to all your chat transcripts and will be reviewing them periodically.

This video tutorial will walk you through the basics of using the LibChat system. Feel free to skip through the first ten minutes of the video, which discusses admin features and privileges that you won't have access to. The following training covers LibChat more in depth. 

Getting Started

When it is time for your shift, you'll log in at Students will use individual accounts with their own credentials, which means you will be identifiable by name once you are logged in. From the LibApps homepage, choose LibAnswers from the drop down menu in the upper left hand corner.



At the top of the LibAnswers screen, in the orange task bar, click on LibChat and select Connect

This will open the LibChat window in a new tab.

Once you are logged in, you can adjust your LibChat operator settings. From the local monitoring tab, under Departments, make sure that your name and Help & Information Desk are set to the Online position. Access Services should be the only queue that is set to "Notify." Make sure you have sound turned on so you are alerted when new chats arrive.


 When a new chat arrives, you will hear a pinging sound that will continue every five seconds until someone claims the chat. New chats will appear in the upper left hand corner of your screen.  

Click on the blue link with the guest's name to preview an incoming chat before claiming it. This will pop out the content of the chat on the right hand side of your screen, but will not claim it.

To claim a chat, click on the Chat tab, then select the blue Claim chat button next to the new chat. 


During a Chat

By now, you're all experts on providing great customer service in a traditional, face-to-face environment. You know and understand our guiding philosophy, Greet, Listen, Answer, Offer. But this may be your first experience providing virtual customer service. And that's ok! Although excellent customer service is as important in a virtual environment as it is when you're working at the physical H&I desk, you shouldn't be overwhelmed or worried. Just remember that when interacting virtually you don't have the same tools at your disposal to make the patron feel heard and understood, like a smile, eye contact, or other body language, so you'll need to develop some new skills. Here are a number of steps you can take to successfully GLAO in a virtual transaction.

  1. Welcome the patron - make sure they understand they are talking to a real person who is ready to help them, not a bot
  2. Ask follow up questions whenever you think you need more information, just like you would in person.
  3. Let them know how long you will be - this is a big one. Virtual patrons can't tell when you're looking something up for them. A simple "Sure, I should be able to do that. This might take a few minutes, I'll be right back" lets the patron know their question has been heard. And if a search becomes more complicated and you need more time, check back in with the patron to let them know that.
  4. Don't be too formal, or too causal - Try to find the right language that will, again, let the patron know you're a real person, but also that their question is being taken seriously. Don't be afraid to use the occasional emoji if the situation calls for it!
  5. Don't leave them wanting more - Make sure the patron knows that even if you've provided them with an answer, that you're willing to keep searching until you've found the right answer. 

Also, be sure to take advantage of the many canned messages that are pre-programed into LibChat that will help you navigate this new service environment.

Like we see at the physical H&I desk, we expect to see many similar questions via chat. You can use canned messages in LibChat for greetings, closings, or other phrases you use frequently. 

To access canned messages, look to the bottom left of the chat window. An initial set of canned messages has been created. If there are others you think should be added, let a supervisor know.

During your chat, you can click on the Patron Information tab to see past chats the patron has had, as well as previous tickets they have submitted in LibAnswers. 

This may be useful if the student is referencing a past transaction while chatting with you, or is checking on the status of another ticket. 

During a chat, you will also see an FAQs tab. For Northeastern patrons, you will see our policy page, as well as the FAQs each department has set up in LibAnswers. 

The FAQs are searchable and you should use them to help you generate answers for commonly asked questions. 

Transfers vs. Referrals

If you are working in LibChat and receive a question that is best handled by another operator, you have a few different options:

Chat transfers occur when you are passing the patron off to another chat operator that is currently online, either another H&I Assistant, Backup Supervisor, or an IDEAS or R&I librarian signed in to LibChat.

Ticket Referrals occur when you refer the patron to another department, supervisor, or subject specialist for follow-up at a later point in time. This could happen in a couple of ways.

  • For chat referrals, use the "create a ticket" option to have the system automatically convert the chat into a ticket, that can be assigned to a specific user or queue.
  • For SMS or Phone referrals, follow the instructions for manually creating a ticket with the patron's information and closing out the SMS chat (if applicable).

For questions that need to be referred to ITS, follow the instructions for creating a ticket, based on originating question type, and then follow the additional instructions for assigning that ticket to ITS. (Note that if the question originates as a LibAnswers ticket you can skip directly to the ITS referral instructions). This is also how you should assign tickets to other users outside of LibAnswers, like the law library, though ITS questions are generally most common.    

You may need to transfer a chat in the following circumstances:

1. The question is more suited to R&I or another department currently monitoring chat (this will generally only need to be done by library staff and Backup Supervisors).

2. The question is running over your scheduled shift and you need to transfer it to the next person on duty

In both of these cases, you can transfer a chat using the Transfer chat to another department/user button to the top right of the chat. 

Select the people icon to transfer the chat:

*Note: You will only be able to transfer a chat to another department/operator that is currently signed into LibChat. If none are available, please follow the steps for creating a ticket from a chat, on the next tab.

You may need to create a ticket from a chat in the following situations:

  1. You need to refer the patron's question to a subject specialist in R&I or IDEAS staff member who isn't currently logged on
  2. You need to refer the student's question to another department that doesn't monitor LibChat

In either of these cases, you can mark a chat for follow up by using the Create a Ticket from this chat link once the chat has ended:


Or, by clicking the create ticket icon at the top of the chat window:


You will be able to select a department or (optionally) a specific person. You can also add an internal note if you need to provide any clarifying information.

Patron chats that are marked as “Source SMS” are questions that have been texted to us at (617) 934-7876. The number is intended (ideally) for quick questions that can easily be answered within 160 characters. It’s fine if you occasionally need to send a couple of short responses back to answer a text question, but occasionally a patron will ask a question that’s too complicated to be answered via text, or that needs to be escalated up to a supervisor for an answer. These chats will need to be converted into tickets.

Unlike regular Chats, which can automatically be converted into tickets within the LibChat dashboard, you’ll have to create these tickets manually. (Note that the system does automatically create tickets in LibAnswers for SMS chats, but they’re limited by the same 160 character constraint. What we’re doing here is creating a full ticket.) You should follow these same steps when you need to create a ticket after a phone call. To do this, first navigate to LibAnswers. Under the Answers dropdown, select ‘Create.’

On the next screen you will be prompted to fill out as much information about the patron and question as you can, and assign the ticket to a queue. Most questions should be referred to the Access Services queue, although there may be some instances where an in-depth research question could be assigned directly to R&I.

Fill out as much information about the question as you have, or that you think will be useful for the person who will ultimately answer the question. Make sure you ask the patron for their email address at a minimum, and their name if possible.

Then select ‘Create Ticket.’

From the ticket page you’ll have the option of answering the ticket yourself, assigning the ticket to a specific user, or leaving the ticket unassigned in the general queue, depending on what the situation calls for.

Lastly, you’ll need to go back to the original SMS chat and close it.

From the LibChat dashboard where you have the SMS chat open, click on the View Ticket icon (the one that looks like an eye), to pop out the SMS ticket in a new window.

Within the SMS ticket you can answer the analytics questions and Submit as Closed.

We will occasionally questions about equipment checkouts that have been loaned by ITS, like laptops. The library does not control equipment, so these tickets will need to be transferred to ITS. To do this, open the ticket and click on the Assign/Transfer tab.

You can then submit the ticket as closed. Note that ITS sends automatic responses to any tickets they receive, so you should be on the lookout for a follow up email from them referencing an incident number, which you can also close.

Reference Analytics

After any patron interaction - online, in person, or on the phone - you should log the transaction in the LibAnswers Reference Analytics. Chats will prompt you to Add to Reference Analytics. 


The question will pre-populate in the form. 

For location, choose Other. For origin, select Chat.

Phone and in-person interactions should be added to Reference Analytics directly from LibAnswers by clicking on the Ref. Analytics dropdown and selecting "Add Transaction."

You will be prompted to answer the same statistics, though the page will look a little different. Here you will need to manually enter the question and answer, unlike when recording an online transaction (which populates automatically). You can be brief, like "bathroom location," and don't worry about recording answers to common questions. Also make sure to hit "submit" when you're finished.   

Inappropriate patron policy

Although it doesn't happen often, you may at times field chats from patrons who are using the service inappropriately.

The following behaviors would be considered inappropriate:

  1. Repeatedly submitting non-library-related questions (ie. asking for answers for their math homework)
  2. Sending lewd or harassing chat messages 

In either of these situations, please use the canned message marked for inappropriate patrons and leave the chat. You should also alert the desk supervisor on duty if you experience any kind of harassment. 

If the patron starts a new chat and continues the inappropriate behavior, you may block the patron using the block IP address icon at the top of the chat window.

If you block a patron, please make note of the date and time of the transaction and email your direct supervisor, CC'ing Brian Greene with this information and a brief description of the patron behavior that resulted in the block. If the behavior involved harassment, your supervisor may be required to report it to the Title IX compliance office.

LibChat Quiz