Chat to a Librarian Review

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      Rachel Kersley

      As I suspect most of you are already aware, the QUT Library offers a range of useful services and workshops for students and researchers.


      If they’re still being offered then I assume they’re at least somewhat useful – I don’t believe I can actually avail myself of anything meant for researchers right now, if ever, and I haven’t really checked out everything they have on offer for students. What I have checked out, though, is the Chat to a Librarian part of Ask a Librarian, and it’s pretty great. It’s also maybe not be strictly ‘research’ related, but it can be used for help with just about anything, so there’s hardly anything stopping you from using it for a bit of research help.

      The actual service is about what you’d expect – follow the links on the QUT library site to Ask a Librarian, click ‘chat now’ and ask your question. The way it works means that, as with just about any service, the level of help you get depends in part on the librarian you get answering your question. While that could be an issue for someone, the librarian helping me was great, and I know one of my friends has had a great experience with the service too, so that’s two for two right there. Basically, Chat to a Librarian is a service that does what it’s supposed to, and does it well.

      Pretty much the only reservation I have in terms of the services usefulness is the hours that it’s available. On the one hand, as a hopeful future librarian 7:00am to 9:45pm is plenty – I like libraries, but I also like free time and sleep. On the other hand, as a university student, I feel that someone has severely misjudged things, because if I need help with something I can’t manage myself, then it’s probably happening around midnight. But that doesn’t make the service any less useful, especially since it really is a perfectly reasonable time-frame to be available in.

      So, given that I only really have one minor nit-pick, this is obviously a pretty positive review of the Chat to a Librarian service. The only problem is that I really don’t generally make use of this sort of service (basically the main reason I used it at all was because I needed to write a service review) meaning that I don’t have a lot of context – sure it’s good, but is it better than what other libraries offer? I have no idea, and the fact that I’m way more comfortable figuring things out for myself than I am asking for help means that there’s a pretty good chance I never will.

      It also means that I can’t really offer the standard endorsement of ‘I would totally use this again’, because I probably wouldn’t! At least, not unless I really needed help. But that has less to do with the service than it does with me. What I can say, though, is that if you don’t have the same hang ups as me then Chat to a Librarian is definitely something you should consider.

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