The Reference Request feature allows staff members to manage information requests from researchers, sent as email, within the Aeon client. Email conversations between staff and researchers are processed through the Reference Request workflow queues. Using a Reference Request email address, researchers can send library staff questions to see if they need to plan a reading room visit or request duplications. Based on the response from staff, researchers can then submit a new loan or photoduplication request from their Aeon account.
The Reference Request Workflow
Reference requests are a unique transaction type and are managed separately from loan, photoduplication and Activity requests. They are accessed via a Reference tab in the Requests Group. The queues for reference requests enable staff to manage the basic workflow processes associated with the requests. The default queues (and initial system states) for reference requests are:
- Awaiting Reference Request Processing: New reference requests are placed in this queue when they are received by the client.
- Reference Request in Processing: Requests are in this queue while the request form is open.
- Awaiting Staff Reply: Requests route here when a researcher sends a reply to a staff email.
- Awaiting User Reply: Requests route here when staff sends an email to the researcher using the Send Reply button.
- Reference Request Finished: Requests route here when staff send a reply to a request using the Send and Finish button. Requests also move here when marked as Finished.
- Reference Request Cancelled: Requests route here when they are marked as Cancelled.
Processing Reference Requests
Existing Aeon account holders and non-account holders can send reference requests to Aeon via email. The reference requests are received by Aeon and housed in the Awaiting Reference Request Processing queue. Opening a reference request queue displays a list of all reference requests in the queue and the pertinent information from the latest email in the request. When collections staff open a request from the queue, the Reference Request form displays. This form shows the email conversation history, displays the contents of the latest email, allows you to send an email reply to the researcher, and allows you to cancel or finish the request. Click on any email under the Conversation tab to view the contents of that email.
Replying to Reference Requests
Clicking the New Email button opens the email form so you can reply to the researcher's request. When the email form opens, the To address and Subject line are filled in automatically. Compose the ext of your message and click either Send Reply or Send And Finish. The type of reply you send and the next step in the workflow is dependent upon the nature of the request.
Use the Send Reply button when you are replying to a request and expect to receive an email response from the researcher. This sends the email and moves the request to Awaiting User Reply. When the researcher submits an email response, the request moves to Awaiting Staff Reply. Use the Send and Finish button when you are replying to a researcher and do not expect to receive an email response. This sends the email and moves the request to Reference Request Finished.
Cancelling and Finishing Reference Requests
If you want to delete an email without responding, or you want to keep the request but do not need to reply to the researcher, you can cancel requests and mark requests as finished. You can do this from the request form or within the workflow queues.
Cancelling a Request
Clicking the Cancel button cancels the request. The request moves to Reference Request Cancelled.
Finishing a Request
The Finish button marks the request as finished and moves it to Reference Request Finished.
The Reference Request Tag
Reference request emails are tracked using a reference request tag, for example, <RR#:47>. This tag is pinned to the end of each outgoing reference request email. The tag helps determine if an email received from a patron is a reply to an existing reference request. If a new message is part of an existing reference request, it is associated with the request during the import process. Otherwise, a new reference request is started for the message.