Monday, August 16, 2010

Library aide has shiny hair, spinning eyes

IMG_0131 helpbot     One has brown hair, the other hot pink. One knows all about WSU Online library services, the other can answer only three questions. One is a human with hazel eyes, the other is a “helpbot” with huge green eyes that spin around to follow your cursor.
     Jane Scales has been distance learning librarian for WSU Online since 1993. She also teaches, and has a bachelor’s in Russian, a master’s in German and a master’s of library and information science. When WSU Online decided to change its name from Distance Degree Programs this spring, Scales revised the library’s distance learning Web site and added the avatar to answer frequently asked questions.
     “I had a different face on the avatar, but I accidentally changed it,” she said. “I thought the pink hair was kind of fun, so I left it.”
     The avatar looks grown up, but she has a lot to learn. Her wisdom will grow as Scales adds more FAQs to her repertoire. Students are invited to suggest topics using the page’s comments box, Scales said. Scales is also planning a contest to name the new hot-pink helper.
     Online students new to WSU library services will get a couple of other pleasant surprises.
  • Books are shipped to students at no cost, with return postage included. 
  • WSU’s WorldCat system lets students order materials from libraries across the country and even worldwide. “Students can also access full-text articles through the database,” Scales said.
     If students have non-frequently asked questions, they can use the “Get Help” Web page, Scales said, or contact the reference desk through e-mail, online chats, or by calling 1-800-435-5832.

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