Proposal to Develop and Enhance the Services Public - Maryland

By Dolores Jackson,2014-11-24 08:58
10 views 0
Proposal to Develop and Enhance the Services Public - Maryland

    Maryland AskUsNow!

    Proposal to Develop and Enhance

    The Service’s Public Home Page at

    And Encourage New Partner Libraries

    Presented by Joe Thompson and Julie Strange at the

    Project Liaison Meeting on June 5, 2007

    This proposal seeks to grow the service with a focus primarily in these major areas: 1. To restore customer usage to 2006 monthly levels and further increase customer usage of

    Maryland AskUsNow!.

    2. To encourage the development of new Maryland AskUsNow! partner libraries.

    Element #1: By June 8, 2007

    ____Approved / ____Approved with Changes / ____Not Approved

    Proposed Action: Non-partner Maryland Academic and Public libraries will be added to the

    menus appearing on the page. If a customer selects one of these

    libraries they will be directed into the generic MD Academic or MD Public queue (depending

    on library type) since there currently is no specific virtual category for each of these institutions

    in the QuestionPoint system. In addition, a generic link that will not require any kind of

    authentication to enter the service will be added below the menus for customers who may not

    be sure which library they may be affiliated. See mock-up at:

    Rationale: Previous to December 2006 we had only asked for a zip code as customers

    entered the service through the page. Up to that time there seemed to be

    no obvious suggestion that customers should be affiliated with one library over any other.

    With the removal of the zip code authenticator and replacement with menus listing only the

    AskUsNow! partner libraries, the suggestion that the service is only for the customers of those

    institutions may have been put in place (even though an “other” option appears at the bottom

    of each menu). Some basic usability experiences with colleagues from non-partner

    AskUsNow! libraries has reinforced this. Each was asked to use AskUsNow! by entering

    through the page. The majority of these people inferred that they really

    should not be using the service, when in fact the service is for all the state’s residents and

    students of its educational institutions. It is also for people outside of Maryland who have a

    question about the state. Adding the other academic and public libraries, as well as the

    generic “Not sure” entry link, should again encourage wider usage.

    Note: The libraries being added to the menus will not be considered Partner Libraries. Only

    official AskUsNow! Partner libraries will continue to appear on the Participating Libraries page


     Accomplished By: Julie and Joe

    Element #2: By June 19, 2007

    ____Approved / ____Approved with Changes / ____Not Approved

    Proposed Action: Each partner library will provide customer access to Maryland AskUsNow!

    by linking to the service using their library’s own specific virtual category URL. Partner

    libraries will no longer link to the page. Customers will directly enter the

    service from partner library web sites rather than need to select a library from a menu.

    Rationale: This action revises a recommendation sponsored in January 2007 when partner

    libraries were encouraged to no longer use their own virtual category link on their public web

    sites. That recommendation was geared primarily to allow customers to identify themselves

    with a different library than the one they had navigated through. However, one consequence

    of this change was that customers identifying themselves with the library web site they were

    using were also required to select this library from a menu rather then directly enter the service.

    Following this change in January we have seen overall usage of the chat service drop in

    February, March, April, and May as compared to 2006 usage in the same months. The timing

    of the drop in usage strongly suggests a correlation with the change in method used by

    library’s to link customers to the service. Eliminating the step of requiring customers to select

    a library should reduce the opportunity to loose these potential customers.

     (Below: Model of library linking to AskUsNow! service before January 2007)

     (Below: Model of library linking to AskUsNow! service, February - May 2007)


    Accomplished By: The Project Liaison and web site staff at each partner library. The current

    customer access virtual category URL for each partner library may now be found on the

    Contacts page of the Partners web site. Please find your library’s virtual category URL there

    and share it with the person who maintains your library’s web site in the next two weeks:

    Element #3: June - July 2007

    ____Approved / ____Approved with Changes / ____Not Approved

    Proposed Action: The public web site will receive a facelift. While keeping

    the content of the site much as it is, we will be redeveloping the page to make it look more

    “2008” than “2003.” Changes will include a navigation bar linking to the “Participating

    Libraries” and “About” pages, as well as an area where we can post announcements. This

    effort will still maintain the branding of the AskUsNow! logo. (Approval of this action regards

    whether to proceed with this initiative or not.)

    Rationale: Besides superficial changes and the replacement of the zip code authenticator with

    menus, the page has not received an updated look since the service launched in 2003. The

    new navigation bar should make it easier for customers to find relevant information about the


    Accomplished By: Julie and Joe, with feedback provided by the Project Liaisons once a mock-

    up is ready to share.

    Element #4: June October 2007

    ____Approved / ____Approved with Changes / ____Not Approved

    Proposed Action: Our current contract with OCLC QuestionPoint allows us to add an unlimited

    number of libraries. We will create virtual categories in the QuestionPoint system for all non-

    partner Maryland Academic and Public libraries. These URLs will be shared in a letter with the

    director and head of reference at each of these institutions as the core of a new initiative to

    bring in new partner libraries this year. These libraries will be encouraged to:

    (1) Support the Maryland AskUsNow! service by providing links from their web site to

    Maryland AskUsNow! using their specific virtual category URL. (We may choose to

    recognize these libraries using terminology such as “Supporting Partners.”) This is a major


    change for us, in that for the first time we will be openly encouraging use of the service by

    students and residents of libraries not fully participating.

    (2) Take the next step and become full Maryland AskUsNow Partner Libraries. (We may

    choose to use terminology such as “Full Partners” to recognize our existing partner

    libraries and any who join the service by contributing staffing based on existing


    (3) Complete and maintain a Policy Page in the QuestionPoint system. (If a library fills out

    and maintains a policy page, then Julie and Joe will turn that library’s virtual category “on”

    in the QuestionPoint system so that it is visible to librarians on the service.) (4) Send staff to attend a demonstration and hands-on experience provided by Joe and Julie

    using the service as encouragement to get staff on board to the idea of having the library

    become a full partner. A few of these demonstration/experiences will be scheduled around


    (Approval of this action regards whether to proceed with this initiative or not.)

    Rationale: There are still many colleges and university libraries as well as a few public library systems around Maryland that have not yet joined but would make ideal partner libraries. We are removing some of the real or perceived barriers to participation with the goal of bringing in new partner libraries and encouraging greater awareness and usage by students and residents in these service areas.

     Accomplished By: Joe, Julie, and potentially DLDS staff


Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email