As you may have heard in the Assembly, the Libraries' InfoPoint service, which acts as a central hub for intake and referral of email reference questions, is making some changes this summer. For years, InfoPoint has essentially been a shared email account (email@example.com). InfoPoint staff logged in to the account for scheduled shifts, and would respond to user questions or forward them to the appropriate service point, liaison, or other staff member.
On August 24, InfoPoint will
begin using QuestionPoint software to manage email reference questions.
QuestionPoint is a web-based reference system created by OCLC. The University
Libraries have access to QuestionPoint thanks to MINITEX's AskMN program.
What this means for you:
If you are a liaison, or currently receive questions via email referred from InfoPoint, either in your individual email account or a shared email account (firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.), we will be setting up an account in QuestionPoint for you. Rather than forwarding questions via email, InfoPoint staff will assign them to you within QuestionPoint. You'll get an email message notifying you that a question has been assigned to you. You'll then be able to log in to QuestionPoint to respond to the patron. We will be offering QuestionPoint training in August. Both in-person and self-guided virtual training will be available. You will need to familiarize yourself with QuestionPoint before August 24th.
If you don't currently receive questions from InfoPoint, this change won't affect you, but you may be interested to know that we'll be providing a simple web form that you can use any time you've got a question from a patron that would be better answered elsewhere.
Why we're changing:
Security - Sharing a standard email account means that copies of patron reference questions sit on more than a dozen separate computers. In contrast, QuestionPoint stores all confidential information securely on a single server.
Quality assurance - Keeping track of the many questions that InfoPoint refers is nearly impossible. QuestionPoint will provide a single, consistent interface for reviewing new and referred questions, and will assure that questions don't fall through the cracks or get answered more than once.
Simplicity - Currently
InfoPoint uses an elaborate system of forwarding, CCing, BCCing, a listserv,
and page after page of documentation and procedures to keep the system
running smoothly. QuestionPoint allows us to build many of these rules
right into the system, and will allow our staff to replace tasks that
used to require as many as three separate emails with a single click.
What isn't changing:
InfoPoint will continue to exist as a central hub for reference and other questions. In fact, we hope that this new system will make InfoPoint a more useful service for staff, acting as a central switchboard, and getting staff and users answers to their questions more efficiently than ever. Nothing about InfoPoint staffing will change.
Your shared email addresses (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.) aren't going away. We'll establish a QuestionPoint account for each of these addresses, and notifications will continue to be delivered to these email addresses.
Feel free to contact us, or any member of the Reinventing Reference Collaborative if you have any questions or concerns.
If you'll need training on
QuestionPoint, watch the Monday Memo for the training schedule. We expect
to offer in-person sessions on the Minneapolis and Saint Paul campuses.
Tony Ihrig and Mary Schoenborn, Reinventing Reference Collaborative Co-Chairs