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AnyQuestions.co.nz, the free online reference service, has been around since 2004. In that time we have helped over 80,000 New Zealand school students.
The aim of the service is not to give students the answers but rather, to teach them valuable information literacy skills so they can find the information for themselves. In the past year the service has undergone some dramatic changes. We switched to a much more reliable and friendly to use chat software, revamped our companion site ManyAnswers.co.nz and most recently overhauled our core AnyQuestions.co.nz site.
So why have we done this? The goal was to make the site easier to use for students and librarians as well as integrating our full services a lot better.
Up until recently, students needed to fill in an information survey before they engaged with a librarian. It was vital that we captured this information, yet the method we used failed to create the engagement with students that was needed. We rethought this survey and have incorporated it on the site as the start of a conversation between the student and the librarian. At each “step” of the survey students are asked a question in a conversational tone before entering the chat software proper. So far we have found this successfully creates an engagement that leads to positive interactions between the student and the librarian.
We have also integrated AnyQuestions.co.nz with our companion site ManyAnswers.co.nz. ManyAnswers.co.nz is home to hundreds of “answers” to commonly asked questions on AnyQuestions.co.nz and UiaNgāPātai.co.nz (our te reo service).
Like AnyQuestions.co.nz we don’t give the students the answers, instead we guide them to find answers for themselves. The big advantage ManyAnswers.co.nz has is that it is not limited by the opening hours of AnyQuestions (Monday to Friday 1 – 6pm).
There are hundreds of answers on ManyAnswers.co.nz in both English and te reo Māori and more being added every week. We have integrated the two sites on every page with search functionality, RSS feeds of the latest answers and tag clouds of keywords and tags. We hope that this interweaving of the two sites will provide a better service for students.
Our next project is integrating similar changes into our te reo site, UiaNgāPātai.co.nz.
Our goal is to continue to enhance our services. We welcome your feedback and suggestions! You can do this through the Contact Us page on the AnyQuestions.co.nz site.
Robert Baigent - Manager AnyQuestions
0800 LIB LINE
0800 542 5463
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