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Virtual Reference Best Practices

Problem patron response

From Springshare Oct. 15, 2021:

A persistent repeat patron has been asking about using bathroom facilities/nappie changing, and we are investigating options for dealing with this situation. In the meantime, you might try using the LibAuth feature to require your users to authenticate against your ILS or SSO to begin chatting.

Recommendation: Send the message below and then end the chat session without engaging with the patron.

We are aware that you have been logging into chat through several library institutions and that you are unaffiliated with the current institution.

Chat & Admin logon

Reference schedule link

Summer 2021 hours May 17 - July 31

  • Tuesday & Thursday 1-2pm - All queues

Fall 2021 hours for SC4 begins September 7, 2021 (Sara & Mimi Pappas notified of December holiday hours.)

  • Tuesday & Thursday 1-2pm - All queues
  • Friday 10-11am - Michigan queue only

Winter 2022 hours January 10 - May 6 except March 7 through 11. (Sara notified.)

  • Tuesday & Thursday 1-2pm - All queues
  • Friday 10-11am - Michigan queue only

Summer 2022 hours May 16 - July 29  (No coverage May 7 through May 15)

  • Tuesday & Thursday 1-2pm all queues
  • No coverage August 1-21
  • Begin Fall coverage August 22

Fall 2022 hours August 29 - December 16

  • Tuesday & Thursday 1-2pm - All queues
  • Friday 10-11am - Michigan queue only

Summer 2023 hours May 15 - August 4  (No coverage May 6 through May 13 and July 4; Submitted schedule to Sara Memmott & Mimi at Springshare)

  • Tuesday & Thursday 1-2pm - All queues 

Fall 2023 hours August 28 - December 14 (December holiday break information submitted 11/14/2023)

  • Tuesday & Thursday 1-2pm - All queues
  • Friday 10-11am - Michigan queue only

Winter 2024 hours January 8 - March 1 & March 11 - May 3 Submitted schedule to Sara Memmott & Mimi at Springshare.

  • Tuesday & Thursday 1-2pm - All queues
  • Friday 10-11am - Michigan queue only


Login Procedures 24/7 chat

Link to log into LibStaffer 

See How to Log into 24/7 Chat for detailed instructions. 

  • Pursuant to the collaborative's rules, the 24/7 chat librarians must have an MLS from an accredited library school.
  • All chats are recorded and reviewed for quality control by librarians in the collaborative. 

From Mimi Pappas

Your account has been activated with LibStaffer functionality. You should have received a system-generated email about LibStaffer, but basically this is all you need to do:

When you connect to LibChat to toggle your Global Cooperative setting to Online, you should see a link to LibStaffer on your LibChat dashboard. If you are prompted for credentials when you click that link, you can use your current LibAnswers password to log into the 24/7 Cooperative Schedule.

This link is used for:

  • Clocking in/out at the beginning/end of a scheduled Cooperative shift
  • Viewing posted information about the Cooperative
  • Dropping a shift you can't work (and you can Assign the shift to another librarian, if appropriate)
  • Taking a replacement shift
  • Using the Workflow Forms for specific situations (see the Message Wall on the right-hand sidebar of the Dashboard for instructions)

If you need to access LibStaffer outside of chat, you can do so directly by going to

The shifts have been assigned to Jane as placeholder by default, starting August 10.

As placeholder, Jane may use Drop/Assign to assign shifts directly to Brenan or Michelle. Alternatively, any of this group may also submit the Rotating Shifts form to let us know who will be covering the shift.

Please let us know if there's anything we can help with.

Best Wishes,



Research Help Now Intranet

Research Help Now Intranet


Basic Steps to a Successful Virtual Reference Transaction

Wren Spengler, OCLC

1. Send hello message.
2. Read what the patron wrote.
3. Scroll through the "Patron Info" tab.
4. Click "Policies" link to open the Policy Page.
5. Ask the patron a question.
6. Send a resource (or paste specific information from Policy Page).
7. Ask the patron if the information is useful.
8. Repeat steps 5-7 until the patron is satisfied, or choose a follow up option.
9. Send a goodbye message.
10. Close session using the appropriate resolution code. 

24/7 Reference Cooperative Policies and Procedures



Chatting librarians should be willing to follow these steps and policies for ensuring a high-quality reference transaction.