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LibChat Practices and Procedures: I. Best Practices

A guide to best practices and common procedures for LibChat.


1. Login at the beginning of your shift or when you are available

2. Check the dashboard.  There are often tickets that arrived overnight.  They should receive a response as quickly as possible.

During Your Chat

Follow these best practices for starting a chat with a patron.

  1. Once you have claimed a chat, greet the patron and let them know you are taking a few minutes to read over their question. Use their name and include your position title and campus.
    1. Ex: Good morning, ________! I'm a (position title) at the ____ campus. How can I help you today?
    2. Helpful hint: You can create a personalized canned response for this!
  2. Once you have read the question, repeat their question back to them the way you understood it to make sure you are meeting their information needs.
    1. Ex: Okay, it looks like you need information/sources on ______. Is that correct?
  3. If you will be looking at or working on finding the necessary information for more than a minute, let the patron know where you are in the process.
    1. Ex: I have found one resource for you to use at, but I am looking to find some more. Please give me just a few more minutes.
    2. Ex: I believe I know the answer, but I am double-checking with a colleague. Please give me just a minute while I make sure you have the most recent information.

Follow these best practices for the main part of the chat. This is the stage when you assist the patron with locating the information/sources they initially requested. 

  1. Keep your answers brief.
  2. Break up long responses to avoid long pauses.
  3. Use positive language. Ex: Great question!
  4. Avoid using library jargon.
  5. If the patron is already frustrated and in a hurry to find the answer, providing direct access to resources may increase chat satisfaction.
  6. If the patron is not sure what they need or are looking for, take time to ask open-ended questions to provide better guidance.
  7. Empathize with the patron. If they mention they're feeling frustrated, let them know that you understand and will try your best to help them find what they need.
  8. If it is taking you longer than expected to find an answer, let the patron know you are still there. There is a canned response that works well for this.
  9. Do not worry if the patron does not reply. They may have stepped away or become busy momentarily.
    1. Ghosting by patron: If there is no response from the patron after 5-10 minutes, consider adding a closing line with an encouragement for them to use chat again if they need additional assistance. Ex: It looks like you're doing well on your own, so I will close the chat at this point. If you need additional assistance, please contact us again.
  10. To locate answers to FAQs, try these resources:
    1. Review the FAQ from the TCC Libraries:
    2. Have your email open and searchable.
    3. Virtual Reference LibGuide:

When you step away from chat, set your status to ‘Away’ so users know you are not currently available.

When you return, reset status.  

We are piloting having some circulation staff from NW online so they can assist you with circulation specific questions.  In order for them to see the questions and assist, you will need to transfer the user to that department, NW Circulation.  

You can transfer chats and tickets (SMS, email):

Follow these best practices for the concluding part of the chat. This is the stage when you have finished assisting the patron with locating the information/sources they initially requested. 

  1. For chats, ask the patron if you can help them with anything else. If they say no, thank them for using chat and invite them to get back on chat if they have further questions. Wait for a reply and then end the chat.
  2. For tickets (questions that have been submitted via e-mail), close the ticket when you have answered the patron’s question and do not expect them to follow up with you.

Before you sign off for the day, set your chat status is set to Offline. 

Be sure you can recognize the difference between a question that is coming from chat, email, and SMS (text).

When you are signed in, the SMS messages come to the dashboard just like chats; however, they will have a mobile phone icon and be labeled SMS

This distinction is important because you want to reply differently to a text message, see below for more.

Some best practices when responding to text messages:

  • Keep it simple and short. Encourage the patron to email, call or visit if the question is too involved.
  • There is no need to say goodbye in a text message interaction or to ask if the patron received your reply. Your answer to the initial question is all that is required. It is up to the patron to send another text if they have more questions or need clarification.
  • The goal is to keep the number of messages sent to a minimum. Some patrons pay by the text on their mobile plans.

Please continue to use the macros to send the rating/comment survey when you close email and SMS tickets.  To send the survey:

  1. Go to "Apply Macro to Ticket"
  2. Choose the correct Macro ("Send SMS Survey" or "Send Email Survey")
  3. Click Apply
  4. Submit as Closed

Special Circumstances

1. If the patron asks for assistance that another department should provide, transfer the chat to personnel from that department.  Within the chat, include a warm hand off indicating that another person will entering the chat to address the question.

a. Ex: Citing resources (Reading/Writing Center), making an appointment with a tutor, help with assignment from a different campus, patron asks for staff from different campus, etc. 

2. Faculty Support Tickets:  

3. If faculty ask a question that is out of your area, refer them to someone from this directory: 

4. If a patron asks for a circulation function that is beyond a regular renewal of an item or a due date question (e.g. lost/bill, account hold, etc.), gather the student name, TCC ID, item name, and any other pertinent information and email it to This will be send to all circulation managers and they will handle the issue.

1. If you believe a student is in crisis, fill out a CARE Team incident report: 

2. If it is clear that the patron is in crisis or looking for help with personal problems, refer them to your campus Counseling department ( You may also direct them to these resources: 

  1. MHMRTarrant: Call or text 817-335-3022; 1-800-866-2465 (Toll free); 817-569-4499 (TTY-TDD number for Hearing Impaired) 
  2. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-5233 
  3. Crisis Text Line (Text START to 741-741) 

3. Mental Health First Aid Action Plan (

  1. Assess for risk of crisis 
  2. Listen nonjudgmentally 
  3. Give reassurance and information 
  4. Encourage appropriate professional help (referrals) 
  5. Encourage self-help and other support strategies 
  1. Listen (or read) and check for your understanding – don't assume you know what they need 
  2. Empathize. If they mention they’re feeling frustrated, let them know that you understand and will try your best to help them find what they need. 
  3. Stay calm and don’t take it personally.  
  4. Summarize the next steps. Let them know what you are doing and keep them in the loop.  
  5. Use screensharing to help a patron understand a complex problem or multi-step process.  
  6. Be clear and concise in your communication. 
  7. If a patron uses abusive, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate language notify the patron that the chat is being recorded and will be sent to police.