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LibAnswers Guide: Brief

Brief Guide to LibAnswers

Brief Guide to LibAnswers Revised: 7/23/14

  1. Sign in with your personal account
  • Public Questions: FAQ Entries
  • Private Questions: Tickets
  1. The Ellis Reference virtual librarian will:
  • Enter Stand-by Alerts mode
  • Monitor Chat, SMS, email through Libanswers
  • Quick Look: Determine if the question needs to be forwarded to another library or Ellis Department.
  • Review the following TICKET tabs:  Open Tickets; Pending Comments; Errors; Spam

Answer a Question: 

  • Clicking on the question claims it.
  • Click on EYE to view the question
  • Three options
    • Send a Reply
    • Post an Internal Note
    • Assign/Transfer
  • Send Reply; Save Draft; Preview Email; Cancel
    • Change the status to CLOSED before sending the reply to move the question out of the dashboard!
  • Option to Add to FAQ Group

Ticket Status

  • Open questions - general, catch-all status for when you're working on a question. These questions appear in your LibAnswers dashboard
  • Pending questions - status for when you're waiting on information from someone, and not actively working on the answer until you receive that information. These questions appear in your LibAnswers dashboard
  • Closed questions - You've sent a reply to the patron, and the question is complete! These questions don't appear in your LibAnswers dashboard. 

Assign/Transfer to another "User":

  • NOTE: Users may set their status to "Away" so that referrals will not go to their inbox.  The emails will go to Ellis Reference.
  • Select the user to email from drop down menu.
  • Email CC:  Add patron's address, and your address (if you want a copy), separated by a space.  You may also add another librarian’s email address here.
  • Note box:  Write a brief message to the patron in the Note box (e.g.,"Lucy, I have forwarded your question to Ethel Mertz.  You should be hearing from her soon."

Specific Transfers:

  • Forward all Access Services questions to Esther Schnase (
  • Health Sciences Librarians will handle those questions (  where the patron chose Health Sciences as their library. If it is merely a health-related question, you may forward that question to them (Account, Health Sciences Reference)
  • Forward all Journalism questions to Account, Journalism Library.

Locate Patron's email address

Plagiarism Check Instructions for Librarians

Best Practicies for Public Knowledge Base Questions

These tips are primarily regarding the public knowledge base entries that are searchable from the website.  Private answers sent in reply directly to patrons are not subject to these practices.

Please keep your answers as short as possible.  Consider having two other librarians read your entry for clarity.

If you are at a branch, please check to see if your staff entry duplicates existing questions.  If the information is duplicative (even though the question is not worded the same), and if you want the question to stay, you must include the branch name in the question so as not to confuse patrons.  Rhonda and I will occasionally clean up questions posted to the knowledge base.

Remember: these are not hard and fast rules, these are general tips and suggestions. Your audience must be taken into account when implementing any best practices.


Writing for the Web (Making answers findable, formatting, etc.)

  • Make the page scannable
  • Keep it Brief
    • Avoid "welcome" messages or unnecessary words
    • Show, don't tell - use bulleted lists rather than explaining too much.
  • Use Plain Language
    • Avoid passive voice & hidden verbs
    • Use simple words & phrases - avoid jargon 
    • Front-load your content - most important information should come first
    • Fonts (type & formatting)
    • Avoid caps (unless in headings) - they come across as shouting
    • Avoid 3rd Person Terms
    • Link text should provide information when read out of context - a call to action (no Click here)
  • Never underline text on the web.  People assume any underlined text is a link.  Use bold sparingly to highlight information.
  • Use screenshots, etc.
  • Link to relevant sites

More Information

 NOTE: Please contact Judy or Rhonda if you would like to add a topic.  Otherwise, use keywords to add access points to your query.