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How can I handle multiple patrons during busy times? 

873 views   |   0 Vote this question as useful.   0 Vote this question as not useful.   |   Last updated on Jan 30, 2024    Traffic


Use the following strategies to make your shifts easier when the service is busy:

Come Prepared                                  


Getting started: 

  • Open the Current Chats Tool and use it to balance traffic with your colleagues
  • Communicate with colleagues in Campfire for advice or transfers 
  • Read new questions as they come in – take duplicate or similar questions 
  • Pick up new chats quickly, on a first-come, first-served basis: 
    • Communicate with patrons to manage their expectations
      • For example, you can use the Chat-Begin or Begin-Swamped script 

As you're helping patrons: 

  • Be honest and communicate to the patron that you’re handling several other questions at the same time
    • Try using the Chat-Busy script
  • Watch the new message icon and pay attention to sound notifications (if you have them turned on) to see when your patrons have responded 
  • Save time typing 
    • Use scripts, when appropriate 
    • Send links and/or copy-paste information 
  • Take the patron to databases you know well
  • Refer local knowledge questions to the patron’s institution, providing contact information
    • For example, provide the phone number for the reference desk if they need information that isn't available on the library website

To buy time: 

  • Ask reference interview questions to buy yourself time 
    • For example, “Where have you looked so far or are you just starting out?” 
  • Let the patron know you are working on their question 
    • For example, “I’ll see what resources are available for you – just a minute please” 
  • Show the patron the appropriate research guide from their institution
    • Use the policy pages to quickly located research guides and other helpful resources
  • Once you have a list of results, ask the patron to look it over while you help someone else 


For software tips, see How can I work more efficiently with Multiple Patrons in LibraryH3lp