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Best Linking Practices – Chat with a Librarian (CWAL)

Linking to CWAL – Best Practices:

Your Local Widgets:

All Pennsylvania libraries and organizations are welcome to use the POWER Library logo to link to the service from their web sites and for other promotional, non-commercial purposes.  All usage from non-participating libraries will be directed to, and all of the questions submitted there will be directed to the POWER Chat/ChatPA queues. For copy-n-paste code to link to CWAL, please see:

For libraries participating in CWAL, however, a custom widget linked to your library is available through LibAnswers.  These custom widgets are unique to your library and link to both your queue and your library’s FAQ/Policy document.  In addition, it’s through these widgets that your library will generate all of its patron usage statistics.

Chat widgets come in four types:

Button Widgets

Button widgets exist as little buttons, that when clicked open a small window containing the chat box.  Embedded widgets exist fully-formed and can be placed in directly on or in a page.  Floating widgets work just like buttons, but the button floats at the bottom-right of the webpage it is installed on, and when clicked popup a chat window.  And lastly, the Slide-out widgets exist in a fixed place on a webpage’s scroll bar and when clicked, a chat window slides out from the right-side of the screen.

The type of widget you choose is up to you and will likely depend on where you wish to place it on your website.  Libraries can use multiple widgets of the same type or different, placing them wherever they think appropriate.

Tip:  To view live examples of the widgets, visit:

To find your queue’s unique widget codes:

  • From the LibAnswers dashboard, navigate to the LibChat tab and select Chat Widgets
  • Locate your queue from the list and click the </> View Widget Code button to the right the desired widget

Some customization is possible in each of the widgets, but be careful of the changes you make as you may accidentally alter the functionality of the widget.

Best Linking Practices:

As a Reminder, as part of your participation in CWAL, you are required to provide a link (or links) to the CWAL service on your library’s website.  As a Site Coordinator, you are responsible for making sure that your library’s chat widget has been placed in a visible and useful location, and that is it easily accessible by your patrons. We’ve come up with a number of linking practices that your library could implement on its website to help increase the visibility and the accessibility of Chat with a Librarian services. The following list outlines those recommendations:

1. Provide a widget, logo, and/or text-link to CWAL directly on the homepage of your website

  • For libraries not using an on-page widget, it’s generally best to provide a separate logo-link and text-link to Chat with a Librarian—i.e. use the CWAL logo AND the CWAL title, and make both independent links to your chat queue
  • Since not all internet browsers are compatible and the logo graphic (and attached link) may not load properly for some users, it’s best to cover your bases and provide both link options

2. Make your CWAL widget accessible with 1-click of the mouse from your library’s website, ideally placing CWAL links on the top of webpages

  • Users who do not have to search through multiple webpages to find a link to Chat with a Librarian are more likely to actually use the Chat with a Librarian service
  • Similarly, users do not like to scroll through webpages to find links, therefore, it’s suggested that links to Chat with a Librarian be placed toward the top of all webpages that you include it on

3. Provide a widget, logo, and/or text link to CWAL on every page of your website, where possible

  • This is most commonly accomplished by building links to Chat with a Librarian into your website’s navigation bar—navigation bars are most likely to appear on every page of a website and will provide users with fast and easy access to the Chat with a Librarian service
  • For an example, see the Free Library of Philadelphia website,; they have chat links built into their website footer (see the Contact Us link) and in the toolbar of most pages (see the Ask tab)

4. Include a link to CWAL that is accessible from your library’s catalog

  • Users sometimes have a need to ask reference questions while searching the online catalog, so adding Chat with a Librarian into your catalog can be a great potential resource
  • To see this in action, visit the Schlow Centre Region Library’s website,, and use the main search bar to conduct a catalog search that will return “no results”; on the results page, a box will appear on the left with a CWAL link and email address

5. Provide a link to CWAL on the library’s “Ask Us” or “Contact Us” page

  • Adding a Chat with a Librarian link to a Contact Us page offers patrons another way of getting in touch with you—particularly for questions that come up after-hours or that don’t require face-to-face or verbal interaction
  • For an example, see the Free Library of Philadelphia website, ; their “Ask” page contains both a link to live chat and an email widget form

6. Add a CWAL widget or link to your library’s electronic/digital resource list

  • Usage statistics show that patrons are more likely to use a service like Chat with a Librarian when they are on pages providing a comprehensive list of services offered by that library
  • With a chat link in your navigation bar and/or on the page itself, patrons can ask questions about how to use a resource or which one would best suit their needs

7. Give a brief description of the service offered by CWAL

  • Many patrons learn about Chat with a Librarian from the libraries which participate in providing Chat with a Librarian services
  • Websites which provide a link to Chat with a Librarian, but don’t give a quick description of the service, are losing possible referrals since patrons won’t understand what is that Chat with a Librarian offers/does
  • Where possible, remember to indicate that Chat with a Librarian is a statewide service, and the librarian your patrons connect to might not be from their home library

8. Simple is best when it comes to describing CWAL

  • Using simple keywords or phrases will increase the likelihood of patrons clicking on your Chat with a Librarian widget or following your Chat with a Librarian links.
  • Here are some sample phrases:
  • Get Research Help, 24/7!
  • Need Answers? Try our free online reference service
  • Free online chat service provided by Pennsylvania librarians
  • 24/7 Librarian
  • Live chat help