Summer 2020
Increased Capacity, Increased Support - Responding to COVID-19
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With libraries suspending in-person services in mid-March, AskAway moved swiftly to increase capacity to meet the needs of students, instructors, and researchers.

Institutions also committed additional hours to the January-April schedule as AskAway saw a 60% increase in the number of calls.

Institutions also decided to provide ongoing access to AskAway during the semester break (April 14 - May 15), offering essential research support during this extraordinary time.

20 new service providers received training, growing the AskAway team in order to ensure staffing levels kept pace with unprecedented usage.

Proactively increasing staffing for the May-August period meant that AskAway was well positioned to meet the 90% increase in usage reflected in the first summer term.

After a short break, AskAway will be back in full swing, two weeks earlier than usual on Tuesday, September 8.
A Vital Service for Libraries
Movie theatre sign with text Take Care of Each Other
The strength of the collaborative service and the person-to-person connection that AskAway offers are especially important in this current environment.

"AskAway has provided a vital communication channel during this stressful time. I can't imagine what we would have done without it!" Camosun College Library

"AskAway has been integral to keeping our service levels up during the closures. I think it's not only a vital service to students at this time, but a vital service for us as well. It allows us to keep a connection with our students [and] the feedback we have been getting is great." Langara College Library

"It is extremely helpful to have this service to be able to connect with students during this period of change and uncertainty." Alexander College Library
Photo by Pavel Nekoranec on Unsplash
Remote Working
AskAway providers continue their work from home (sometimes with a little help).
Langara College Library service provider staffing AskAway.
Photo courtesy of Langara College Library.
2019 AskAway Actions & Achievements Released
This year's annual reports features:

  • The value of AskAway to learners, educators, and researchers across B.C. and the Yukon
  • A review of the transition to new chat reference software and extended service hours
  • Key quotes from students, with a focus on citation support

You can read the 2020 Actions & Achievements report and share it widely with AskAway stakeholders.

Patron Feedback
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"There has never been a situation where I have asked something and someone from AskAway couldn’t find an answer to it." Simon Fraser University Student

"The [service provider] was amazing. She helped me on and off for almost an hour, to find a book that just didn't want to be found anywhere in the province. She would not let go, and kept helping me until we had tried everything. Thanks AskAway!" Capilano University Student

"These services make a big difference in my ability to complete assignments and dive deeper into the work I am writing about. I really appreciate their help as I am a distanced learner and access is difficult from here in the northern part of the interior." Nicola Valley Institute of Technology Student
What's coming up?
Early Opening this Fall
New Base Staffing Commitments
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AskAway will be opening two weeks early, on September 8th, the same day classes begin for most institutions.

While student learning environments may be very different for 'back to school' this September, reference and research help remains only a click away.

Having AskAway's reliable, friendly chat support available from home, from day one, will be vital to students who are navigating the library from a distance.
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The AskAway Advisory Committee reviewed feedback from institutions on Base Staffing Commitments for Fall 2020.

The Committee has raised staffing contributions to ensure balanced coverage throughout the semester including evenings and weekends.

This increase in Base Staffing Commitments will continue AskAway's proactive approach to effectively responding to a higher number of patrons.
Cross-Canada Check-in
The AskAway Admin Centre recently hosted a sharing session with Canadian collaborative chat reference services colleagues. Peers from the Ontario Colleges Library Service (OCLS), the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL), and Novanet (a consortium of Nova Scotia post-secondary libraries) met to discuss on how services were planning for the Fall in the wake of COVID-19. This group looks forward to meeting on a regular basis to learn from and share with one another.
AskAway is a service of the BC Electronic Library Network (BC ELN).
Questions? Contact the AskAway Administrative Centre.