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CNIE - Beyond the Library's Walls: Reference: Synchronous and Asynchronous



Askaway enables real-time chat research assistance.  Started in 2006, AskAway is a collaborative partnership between 29 publically funded post-secondary libraries across British Columbia and the Yukon Territory - covering an area over 551,037 sq miles (the size of Texas, California and Arizona combined).

In 2006, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) users asked 108 questions and TRU Librarians answered 149 questions from post-secondary learners.  Over the last several years, this service has seen outstanding and Incredible growth.  In 2014 (to date), TRU students have asked nearly 800 questions and TRU Librarians have served nearly 500 post-secondary learners.

Questions asked by TRU students through AskAway and questions by students across the province answered by TRU LIbrarians.




In 2007, TRU Library placed a Meebo chat box on its library webpage.  Meebo was a free cross platform chat widget that allowed students to ask a question of the library without having to divulge their username or even having an instant messaging account.  At its peak (2009), TRU Librarians answered 225 questions, but the number of questions steadily declined as it was getting harder and harder to staff the service - most librarians were staffing the service while they were in their offices.  Students turned away from this chat feature and started using AskAway likely because of the greater hours of service (until 10pm) and consistent staffing.     In 2012, Google bought Meebo and shut down the service.  TRU Library decided at that time to not pursue another self run chat service primarily because we felt that students should have some sense as to when the service was available to use and we decided to pursue a liaison program instead.


In conjunction with the library's first webpage at the end 2001, TRU LIbrary has offered reference assistance through email.  At the beginning, this service was used frequently.  Since then, we've enabled email support through Ebsco and Proquest databases and an online form but have noticed that this service has been severly in decline.

The number of questions through TRU Library's email service