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LibAnswers Guide for Library Staff & Librarians: About LibAnswers - Start Here

Getting Started on your Virtual Reference Shift

Welcome to this training guide for LibAnswers (Ask Us!)

This guide and training is for both library staff AND librarians! Revisit this guide any time from the LibAnswers Dashboard (you'll learn what that is as we go along).

Cat meme saying welcome to libanswers i'll be your guide

Here you'll find quick links, tips, and documentation to help you succeed in virtual reference as you are being trained by someone at your campus. If you don't already have an account and have just been sent this link, please email the LibAnswers Admin, Amanda Ross, at Don't forget the 87! 

Navigate through each tab at the top and read through the information. At the bottom of each page, including this one, is an embedded quiz/tutorial that you should take to practice your skillz. There are 5 quizzes total. You won't be scored, but the LibAnswers admin and your director will be notified as you complete them and they can see your attempted answers. Make sure you see the submission complete screen once you're done with a quiz!

What is LibAnswers?

  • LibAnswers stands for "Library Answers." LibAnswers (AskUs!) is a knowledge base of frequently asked questions and a way patrons can ask us questions virtually if they cannot find the answer. It is one of our LibApps products from Springshare.  
  • Library users can search by keyword or type a question to find answers in the LibAnswers FAQ. Please note, it is an FAQ base, not the library catalog! Learn more about what a catalog is here with these FAQ results. 
  • Other features include chat, texting, and emailing answers to library patrons. It also has social media integrations and the Systems Status Management dashboard for helping monitor problems with other library eResource product, but most staff will not be using LibAnswers for these last two. They use it for "virtual reference." 
  • If you have time, you can come back and view this Springshare session recording for a demo of chat options and answering chats (opens in new window).

What Does it Look Like for Patrons (Students, Faculty, and Non-Library Staff)?

link on homepage

Breaking Down the Jargon

Why We Like LibAnswers:

  • Similar look and feel to LibGuides -- all part of the LibApps suite of products! It integrates with our other products, such as through the creation of FAQ Widgets and LibChat Widgets and Systems Widgets that can be embedded on websites and LibGuides. Check out the Humanities LibGuide (opens in new window) for LibAnswers examples. There are actually three (!)  LibAnswers widgets on the homepage (4 if you count the systems widget on all Library pages!). Can you spot them all? 
  • A way to connect with library users and answer their questions via their points of need.
  • Helps us work remotely. We can answer chat questions in real-time just like we could in-person!
  • Track library user search activity and can log information about their virtual reference questions for analytics. 
  • A way of offering information about other departments/collaborating with other departments (many have added to the FAQ). 
  • Reuse answers in various ways to save time and push out vital information about resources. 
  • You can Google how to use this product! Example keyword search for an issue: "Springshare create ticket from chat." It's super easy to figure out! 

Quick Links For Later!

These pages will assist you in providing Virtual Reference. Refer back to them as needed (ie you might want to bookmark these!):

(these open in a new window)

TCC Library Website - The website is good to have bookmarked at your station so that you can search the catalog quickly for patrons needing info on specific items, get links to the databases (be sure to use TCC permalinks from the A-Z "Articles & Databases" list if sharing a specific database link), or other online library resources like Research guides (AKA "LibGuides"). Familiarize yourself with the website and its pages. 

FAQ entries - A page of the Library Website called "Chat & FAQ." You can link to an individual FAQ entry during a virtual reference or copy and paste an FAQ answer into your response. Example: If you get a question about tutoring, find an FAQ to link to about tutoring at TCC. You may want to bookmark this specific page of the Library Website so that you can search for an answer quickly, even for in-person questions!

TCC Library Staff Directory - A page of the Library Website. This is a direct link to our librarian and full-time staff list, so that you can easily identify librarians and staff at various campuses. You should know your co-workers, even if they work at another campus. You can give office contact information from these pages out as well to any patron. Clicking on the name of a librarian will get a direct link to their profile you can also send. Librarian profiles have research consultation and direct chat buttons for that librarian that students might benefit from knowing about in a particular virtual reference interaction. For example, Amanda Ross is the interlibrary loan librarian. Sending a direct link to her profile could be helpful in answering an ILL question.


You LibAnswers Admin

amanda headshot with balloons like the cat picHi, I'm Amanda Ross, your LibAnswers Admin. I'm based at the NE campus and also handle interlibrary loans for the college in the Access Services Office. Back in the day, before I became a librarian, I used to be an aide at Metro! So, I know what's it's like to staff the circulation desk and work chat at the same time. I know how stressful it can be to juggle chat while, for example, the phone is ringing, there's a line for help at the desk, and there's a million other fires you need to put out. I get it. That's also why I was excited when, in 2023, Springshare launched chatbot. Chatbot will help filter out some of the more basic questions, as well has help our patrons ask better questions, so that they get the best answers when the questions do come to us on chat. While it relieves some stress on staff, we still need to be giving the best customer service to our online patrons. These tutorials are designed to help you think about and practice how you would handle interactions for virtual reference. 

1/5: Take this first tutorial! Don't worry - it's just 3 questions. :)


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