Caleb Tucker-Raymond provides a review of the new widgets available with OCLC’s virtual reference software QuestionPoint at his L-net blog. Titled “QuestionPoint widgets and what to do about them”, his review is entirely fair and instead of simply pointing out the faults of the QP widgets he offers a workaround.
Read his post, but I’ll tell you in short that he likes the way the QP widgets handle patron privacy options.
That’s about it.
What he doesn’t like is that the widget continues to not facilitate the type of collaboration that Oregon’s L-net is all about. The specifics get into some QP geekery concerning the widgets being assigned to only one QP “queue.”
This isn’t a software problem so much as a policy problem. OCLC has made the assumption that our virtual reference services will be very very popular if we implement this kind of interface and the 24/7 Cooperative and the paid OCLC Backup Staff won’t be able to handle it. As a result, the widget functions in the way I described above.
Talk about fear of success! I’ve sent several complaints and suggestions for other strategies to measure and manage this potential problem, but have yet to get a response or acknowledgment from OCLC.
The main practical problem with us using the widget is that saying that chat is unavailable isn’t truthful – we’re available 24/7, it’s the widget that is not.
Caleb references the open source library chat box project libraryh3lp but doesn’t go so far as to recommend ditching QP and going with an open source solution. Clearly L-net has a decent amount of money and training time invested in QP so I can understand why he might be reluctant.
I just wonder when libraries are going to get fed up with buying things they don’t really want.