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Virtual groups (overview)

What are virtual groups?

QuestionPoint libraries form virtual groups so they can do one or both of the following:

  • Refer questions among themselves when they need assistance providing answers. When a group member needs assistance, it can refer a question to another group member that it selects. (All QuestionPoint libraries, of course, are encouraged to submit questions to the Global Reference Network when they need assistance from a wider community.)
  • Provide Web-form (e-mail) question coverage and extended hours of service for each others' patrons. Each group member specifies the times when it needs other group members to respond to questions submitted through its Web form. Each member also specifies the times when it will respond to questions submitted through other members' Web forms. QuestionPoint automatically refers questions based on the specified times of need and availability.

Examples:

  • Law libraries might form a group to share their collections and expertise to answer law-related questions.
  • Libraries with strong collections and expertise about Abraham Lincoln might form a group to help each other with questions about Lincoln.
  • Libraries in a particular country, state or region might form a group to strengthen their ability to answer questions for the people of their area.

How do libraries form virtual groups?

Libraries can:

Create virtual groups

A virtual group is created and managed in the Virtual Groups section of the Administration module. It can be created by any institution administrator whose institution has an active profile in the Global Reference Network. When the administrator creates the group, he or she becomes the group administrator and activates institutions requesting membership.

Members of a virtual group must have an active profile in the Global Reference Network. They can do any of the following that the administrator designates as group activities:

  • Refer questions among themselves when they need assistance providing answers.
  • Provide Web-form (e-mail) question coverage and extended hours of service for each others' patrons.

Also, members of a virtual group:

  • Do not share a local knowledge base.
  • May also submit questions to the Global Reference Network.
  • May also join or create up to 4 other virtual groups online.
  • May leave the group at any time.
  • May also be a member or administrator of a subscription group.

Make a subscription group "public"

A subscription group is made "public" and managed in the Virtual Groups section of the Administration module. It can be made public only by its administrator and only if the administrator's institution has an active profile in the Global Reference Network. When the administrator makes a subscription group public, he or she becomes the group administrator and activates institutions requesting membership.

Members of a public subscription group must have an active profile in the Global Reference Network. They can do any of the following that the administrator designates as group activities:

  • Refer questions among themselves when they need assistance providing answers.
  • Provide Web-form (e-mail) question coverage and extended hours of service for each others' patrons.

Also, members that join a public subscription group online:

  • Share the local knowledge base of the subscription group.
  • May also submit questions to the Global Reference Network.
  • May also join or create up to 4 other virtual groups online.
  • May leave the group at any time.
  • May also be a member or administrator of a subscription group.

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