Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Lauinger Launches LiveHelp

For two and a half months now, students needing assistance using library resources have had a place to turn in the form of Lauinger Library’s online live Web site, LiveHelp. The new service was activated on Nov. 1, 2001, at 2 p.m.

The LiveHelp program is an instant help service for students who have questions about the university’s online library catalogue GEORGE, selecting and searching appropriate databases, accessing resources off-campus, Internet search strategies and library services. The program, which can be accessed from off campus, allows students’ questions to be answered immediately and does not require additional software.

The software allows instant messaging between the operators. During hours of operation, three librarian operators from the reference, government documents and microform departments, as well as the Blommer Science Library, answer users’ questions online. The LiveHelp button, which is located on almost every library Web page, is blue when it is closed and becomes green during hours of operation.

The LiveHelp program provides guidelines for what types of questions to ask. “If the questions asked are too specific, we try to redirect them to the appropriate area,” committee member and librarian Judith Trump said. “We answer mostly general ready-reference factual information questions such as how to do a better search in an online catalog, to what database is helpful for a specific research topic.” There have also been a wide variety of other questions posed, including questions about reserve materials.

The idea for the program began last year when librarians said that they wanted to reach out to students and provide further and more extensive reference services to the university. The librarians wanted to develop a program what would allow students to utilize their assistance while “not having to get offline to call for help,” librarian Trump said.

Lauinger Library’s Internet Access Committee assembled a group of three librarians to find the best way to implement the idea. Consisting of librarians Trump, Beth Marhanka and Nevenka Zdravkovska, the subcommittee reviewed new software packages. They discovered the company LivePerson, which supplied them with LiveHelp early last year, and a limited project was inaugurated in the spring of 2001. After careful review and analysis of the program, the subcommittee members decided to expand the service, reinstating it in the fall of 2001.

“A very popular feature is `pushing’ of Web pages, which actually consists of the operator sending the Web page relevant to the question to the user’s computer,” committee member Zdravkovska said.

The subcommittee members have assessed the effectiveness of the program each time a patron uses the service to determine whether to continue, modify or terminate the service. At the end of the chat session an exit survey asks patrons for their reactions to the service. According to the survey, 81 percent of patrons feel the program to be valuable.

The survey has also shown that 54 percent of the patrons are undergraduates, 12 percent are graduates, four percent are other faculty members, and three percent are alumni.

“At the end of this semester, we will assess the information and see if the service will continue,” Trump said. “There is a good chance that it will continue. We would like it to continue.”

LiveHelp’s service runs Monday through Thursday from 2-8:30 p.m. and Fridays from 2-4:30 p.m.

LiveHelp can be found online at https://www.library.georgetown.edu/resource/chat.htm.

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