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Library Service Desk

What is LibChat?

LibChat is the built-in chat reference module for LibAnswers. It allows you to create and embed chat widgets that patrons can use to chat with library staff. Widgets can be monitored by individual staff members, or collectively using departments. With the screensharing add-on module, you can share & annotate your screen with patrons in real-time using Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

When a staff member signs into LibChat, they can monitor their assigned departments, claim & reply to chats, and even keep an eye on incoming tickets, SMS messages, and Facebook messages. Chats can easily be transferred to other online staff members or departments, too, so you can ensure that patrons are matched with the right people to answer their question.

You can even use LibChat to chat with other online staff members, entire departments, or all online staff at once -- no need to use a separate messaging app like Slack, Google Hangouts Chat, or Microsoft Teams to keep up with your team.

Signing into LibChat

In order to begin monitoring LibChat and chatting with patrons, you must first sign into the LibChat dashboard. Once signed in, you will see the Settings tab, where you can adjust which departments and queues you want to monitor, as well as what types of notifications you'd like to receive. Any widgets that are assigned to you or one of your monitored departments will appear as online to patrons.

Signing in to LibChat

At the top of the LibAnswers dashboard, you'll see two areas that indicate LibChat's status.

  1. The first status area will indicate whether or not any operator has signed in and is monitoring chat.
    •  LibChat is Offline: This status will display if no operators are currently signed in to LibChat.
    •  LibChat is Online: This status will display if you or any other operator is currently signed in to LibChat.
  2. The second status area will indicate whether or not you personally are signed in.
    • Example of the offline indicatorLibChat: You are offline: Sign In
      • This status will display if you are not currently signed in to LibChat. The status dot above your profile image will also be red to also indicate you are offline. 
      • To sign in to LibChat: click the Sign In link.
    • Example of the online indicatorLibChat: You are online: Go Chat
      • This status will display if you are signed in to LibChat. The status dot above your profile will also be in green to indicate you are online.
      • This can be a helpful reminder in case you've minimized the LibChat dashboard or it's gotten buried in a pile of browser tabs. :)
      • Clicking the Go Chat link will take you back to the LibChat dashboard. If you are currently signed in at another location, you'll be given the option to end that session and start a new one.
  3. You can also sign in to LibChat from the command bar by going to LibChat > Connect.


Help! I'm signed into LibChat, but the widget still appears offline!

Here are a few things to check:

  • A widget's online/offline status is cached for 1 minute. If you just signed in and nobody else was already monitoring the department or fallback option, wait a minute or two and refresh the page with your widget. The status should then update.
  • Is your status set to Online? Is your LibChat status is set to Online? If you are currently set to Offline or Internal status, and nobody else in the department or fallback option is also monitoring chat, then the widget will appear offline.
  • Are you monitoring the widget or other fallback option for that widget? For example, if the widget is set to be monitored by the Reference chat department, but you either do not belong to that department or have turned off monitoring it, the widget will show as offline (unless someone else from the department or fallback option is monitoring it).
  • Is the widget properly configured to be monitored by you? Edit your chat widget and check the "Who monitors the widget" setting. Make sure it's configured to be monitored by the intended department, operator, co-op, and/or other fallback options.

Chatting with other online staff members

In addition to chatting with patrons, you can also use LibChat to chat with other online staff members! Internal chats can be one-on-one with another user, or you can chat as a group with an entire department or all online users. All a user needs is a LibAnswers user account in order to access LibChat.

Signing out of LibChat or setting your away status

Whether you're done for the day, or just stepping away for a minute, LibChat makes it easy to set your status accordingly.

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