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Chat with a Librarian - General

Best Linking Practices

Best Linking Practices

All Pennsylvania libraries and organizations are welcome to use the POWER Library / Chat with a Librarian logos to link to the service from their websites, and for other promotional, non-commercial purposes.  All usage from non-participating libraries and organizations will be directed to, and all of the questions submitted there will be answered by statewide and global librarians.

To better help you connect the service to your patrons and users, we’ve come up with a number of linking practices that your library or organization could implement on its website to help increase the visibility and the accessibility of Chat with a Librarian (CWAL) services.

1. Provide a widget and/or a logo and text-link to CWAL directly on the homepage of your website

  • When adding a link to the Chat with a Librarian, it’s generally best to provide a separate logo-link and text-link to Chat with a Librarian—i.e. use the CWAL logo AND the CWAL title, and make both independent links to your chat queue
  • Since not all internet browsers are compatible and the logo graphic (and attached link) may not load properly for some users, it’s best to cover your bases and provide both link options

2. Make your CWAL link accessible with 1-click of the mouse from your library’s website, ideally placing CWAL links on the top of webpages 

  • Users who do not have to search through multiple webpages to find a link to Chat with a Librarian are more likely to actually use the Chat with a Librarian service
  • Similarly, users do not like to scroll through webpages to find links, therefore, it’s suggested that links to Chat with a Librarian be placed toward the top of all webpages that you include it on

3. Provide a widget and/or a logo and text-link to CWAL on every page of your website, where possible

  • This is most commonly accomplished by building links to Chat with a Librarian into your website’s navigation bar—as navigation bars are most likely to appear on every page of a website and will provide users with fast, easy, and consistent access to the Chat with a Librarian service3
    • Tip: For an example, see the Free Library of Philadelphia website; they have chat links built into their website footer (see the Contact Us link) and in the toolbar of most pages (see the Ask tab).

4. Include a link to CWAL that is accessible from inside your library’s catalog and/or databases

  • Users sometimes have a need to ask reference questions while searching the online catalog or using a database, so adding Chat with a Librarian into your catalog and resources can be a great potential resource
    • Tip: To see this in action within a catalog, visit the Schlow Centre Region Library’s website, and use the main search bar to conduct a catalog search that will return “no results”; on the results page, a box will appear on the left with a CWAL link and email address.
    • Tip:  To see this in action within a database, visit the POWER Library’s e-Resources page, and select one of the Gale databases (such as the Elementary, Middle School, or High School databases); a Chat link is included on the top-right of each page.

5. Provide a link to CWAL on the library’s “Ask Us” or “Contact Us” page

  • Adding a Chat with a Librarian link to a Contact Us page offers patrons another way of getting in touch with you—particularly for questions that come up after-hours or that don’t require face-to-face or verbal interaction

6. Add a CWAL widget or link to your library’s electronic/digital resource list

  • Usage statistics show that patrons are more likely to use a service like Chat with a Librarian when they are on pages providing a comprehensive list of services offered by that library
  • With a chat link in your navigation bar and/or on the page itself, patrons can ask questions about how to use a resource or which one would best suit their needs
    • Tip: A good example of this can be found on the Peters Township Public Library’s homepage; their district-wide WAGGIN chat service is incorporated into their eResources list, as well is in the sidebar of all their eResources pages.

7. Give a brief description of the service offered by CWAL 

  • Websites which provide a link to Chat with a Librarian, but don’t give a quick description of the service, are losing possible referrals if patrons don’t understand what is that Chat with a Librarian offers/does
  • Where possible, remember to indicate that Chat with a Librarian is a statewide service, and the librarian your patrons connect to might not be from their home library

8. Simple is best when it comes to describing CWAL

  • Using simple keywords or phrases will increase the likelihood of patrons clicking on your Chat with a Librarian link.
  • Here are some sample phrases:
    • Get Research Help, 24/7!
    • Need Answers? Try our free online reference service
    • Free online chat service provided by Pennsylvania librarians
    • 24/7 Librarian
    • Live chat help
    • Tip: Check out the language used to describe the service on the POWER Library Chat page; you’ll see that the words used vary depending on who the page is directed at (kids, students, and adults).

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This project is made possible in part by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and
through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Library Access funds administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Commonwealth Libraries.  

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