Thursday, March 21 • 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Chat Reference at the State Library: #everythingNC to Everyone (in) NC

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At the North Carolina Government & Heritage Library, part of the State Library of North Carolina, we have seen our in-person library traffic decrease as the online traffic to our resources has increased. In an effort to meet our patrons where they are, we now offer chat reference during our Monday-Friday business hours. As a library that serves a variety of patron types from all over the state, our patrons range from kindergarten through college students and teachers to family history researchers, from state government employees to library employees, and all types of public researchers in between. The lessons we’ve learned and support systems we’ve put in place thus far can be applied to all types of libraries that provide chat reference. In this presentation, we will share our successes, failures, and solutions from our chat reference program. We’ll provide a history of our chat program and discuss how we train our staff--reference, cataloging, access services, and more--to provide online reference; discuss features of the chat software we use to support our chat staff and share internal information; and share tips for addressing the challenges that come with trying to be #everythingNC to every type of patron, while avoiding collecting more personally-identifying information than is necessary to provide service. Session attendees will learn ways to empower non-reference staff to succeed at chat reference, when and how to provide patron support beyond the chat interaction, and ideas for managing trolls and emergency situations.

avatar for Jennifer Hanft

Jennifer Hanft

Head, Content & Information Delivery, State Library of North Carolina
Library interests include: management & staff development, training & facilitation, reference & instruction, marketing & outreach.
avatar for Erin Holmes

Erin Holmes

Digital Services Supervisor, State Library of NC

Thursday March 21, 2019 1:00pm - 2:00pm CDT
Library Harmon Room