Connect your library

Linking to Answerland

All Oregon libraries are welcome to link to Answerland. The easiest thing to do is to simply link to our front page, www.answerland.org.

It is helpful to describe what Answerland does in terms that library users understand.

Examples:

Get help 24/7 from Answerland
Ask a librarian at Answerland

Order and download promotional materials.

Become a Partner with Answerland

It's free

There is no cost to helping to answer questions with Answerland, but partner library staff give their time, both to attend training and to deliver the service. Libraries must also install our chat software in order to participate.

Time

Libraries helping with the chat service commit to answering questions for at least one hour per week. All partner libraries help with our email service as well, answering local, subject-specific or general questions from patrons.

Training

We ask that all staff answering questions commit to one full day of hands-on training. We are happy to come to your location for the event. The training covers our chat software, text messaging software, email software, and instruction on techniques for communicating effectively online with patrons and providing reference services online.

Software

Libraries helping with the email service need only a connection to the internet and a web browser.

Libraries helping with the chat service need to be able to install and run the SparkRef instant messaging program.

  • Download SparkRef from www.answerland.org/spark for Linux, Macintosh or Windows
  • Java 6 is required
  • Firewall must allow connections on TCP/IP ports 5222 and 9090 to chat.answerland.org

Next steps

Contact us to tell us you want to help answer questions on Answerland.

One of Answerland's goals is to help Oregon libraries provide virtual reference service. One of the ways we do this is to offer our chat software tools free for you to use at your library.

A best practice is to make chat reference service convenient and easy to use. Many libraries use chat "widgets", which usually feature a simple form or button to begin chat, and which can be embedded in a library website or used in a small pop-up window.

Examples of successful Answerland Local Queues

Eugene Public Library - look for a button for or link to chat on the library home page, on every sub-page and in the library catalog. Chat is ubiquitous and clicking opens a new window.

Portland State University - look the chat icon in the navigation near the top of each page. PSU also puts chat in their course management software. Chat is everywhere a patron might need help. Clicking opens a small pop-up window.

University of Portland - the 'get help' page features an embedded chat widget. Chat is not on every page, but librarians emphasize this one when they are talking to students.

Technical requirements

Libraries using Answerland's chat software need to be able to install and run the SparkRef instant messaging program on local computers.

  • Download SparkRef from www.answerland.org/spark for Linux, Macintosh or Windows (contact us for a test account)
  • Java 6 is required
  • Firewall must allow connections on TCP/IP ports 5222 and 9090 to chat.knowitnow.org

The patron interface for the chat runs in any web browser with JavaScript enabled.

Training

We ask that your staff attend one of our trainings before using the Answerland software for your chat reference service. We'd like to talk to you about how to get the most out of the software and explore some strategies for successful online interaction with patrons.

We are happy to come to your location to deliver the training. The training normally takes half a day.

Mobile devices

Unfortunately, our chat software does not work well on phones and other mobile devices. We'd like to add this functionality, but if this is important to you, we suggest your library explore chat software from libraryh3lp.

Next steps

Contact us to tell us you want to use Answerland's chat software at your library.