Optimise digital learning & service environments - FRLS

“These advances will result in a more efficient and personalised experience for users, building relationships and reputational capital” (Future Ready Library Strategy, p10)


Convenience is increasingly important to users, with core services available any time, any place; this environment is underpinned by personalisation, and human-centred services enabled by technology and automation.

Success indicators include:

  • 80% of Tier I and II online knowledge base enquiries are fulfilled
  • initiation of an AI Chat prototype
  • establishment of the Digital Learning Co-op

Tiered model for delivering Library services

A tiered services model provided the framework for client support depending on the complexity of their needs.


Tier 0 is the starting point for everyone and everything and supports the largest client group. Tier 0 includes unmediated access to self-help resources such as our website and knowledge base.

Tier 1 makes use of Tier 0 resources and provides pathways to Tier 2 specialists if required, for example our live chat operators.

Tier 2 is highly specialised and may incorporate the use of resources and services in Tier 1. Tier 2 includes research consultations and complex queries.


Tiered services model: Tier 0-unmediated, Tier 1-pathways, Tier 3-Specialist support

Chatbot prototype (Tier 0)

With over 30% of enquiries sent to the Library after hours, it was critical to improve our knowledge base and explore artificial intelligence (AI) options for Live Chat services.

In a cross-unit and ‘students-as-partners’ project, we collaborated with Learning, Teaching and Curriculum (LTC), the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences (EIS), and five Honours students to develop a Chatbot prototype.

The team used agile methodology, machine-learning and natural language processing to develop the chatbot prototype. The final prototype was text-matching and used a knowledge base of over 300 question-and-answer pairs to achieve a 77% accuracy response rate. The chatbot also had speech-to-text and text-to-speech functionality to aid in accessibility.

A paper, 'Beyond Space and Time: using AI to Solve Client Service Challenges Now and Into The Future' was presented at the ALIA conference in 2019.

The chatbot did not proceed beyond prototyping stage due to resourcing limitations, but it was an invaluable learning experience for the Library and our student partners. 

Watch 2018 video on the chatbot project

Strengthened Ask Us knowledge base (Tier 0)

The experience gained from machine-learning systems in the chatbot prototype project improved the quality of the Q&A pairs in our knowledge base, Ask Us, surpassing set targets.

When a client searches a question in Ask Us, 95% of the time they will be matched with an accurate and relevant answer from the knowledge base. This 95% ‘hit rate’ has exceeded the set target of 80% and is a 33% improvement from 2018.

Our staff continually improve the knowledge base through data analysis and content updates, ensuring exceptional Tier 0 resources are available to clients 24/7.

Column graph showing approx. 95% of queries matched by Ask Us from 2019-2021.

Student standing outside Liverpool campus library holding a mobile phone
A student uses a laptop on the couch at home

"Everyone who responds to Live Chat do a fantastic job - always prompt, helpful and communicate effectively."

"Amazing this service is available over the weekend."

"I'm a PhD student and really needed to access some materials. It was very valuable to have this remote service. Thank you."

Live Chat (Tier 1)

Piloting and implementing an enhanced proactive (pop-out) chat in 2019 meant we were well-prepared to deliver online help services during the COVID-19 crisis as it unfolded in 2020.

During the pilot phase, our proactive chat service increased by 634% over the same period in 2018, and these numbers were exceeded in the years following, during the rapid pivot to online teaching and learning.

Our Tier 1 proactive chat services are delivered seven days a week during Library hours and are a valued service to our clients.


"Very nice online service with quick response. Thanks for your great support."

Column graph of chats increasing. 2019:less than 2500 chats, 2020: approx.10000 chats, 2021: approx.12500 chats.

Integrating Tier 1 and 2 services

The Tiered Services Model was fully integrated in early 2020, which meant better coordination between Tier 1 (Ask Us and Live Chat) and Tier 2 (faculty drop-in and research consultations) for a streamlined client experience.

For example, Live Chat enquiries needing deeper research support are seamlessly referred to a Tier 2 Library specialist, or the Learning Co-Op, in real-time. This was achieved through wide-scale staff training in chat and online referrals.

Column graph showing tiered services satisfaction rating consistently at approx. 90% or higher from 2018-2021.

Library Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform (Tier 2)

We believe our excellent services are centred on relationships. To keep a record of these relationships and connections, we began using a solution developed on UOW’s corporate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform in 2020.

Through the CRM, we record our Liaison and Engagement team’s interactions with other UOW staff and academics, schools and faculties.

Benefits of using the CRM include:

  • increased security
  • improved analytics and reporting
  • more personalised services
  • continuous improvements
  • resource optimisation.

COVID-innovated Virtual Service Point

The Virtual Service Point (VSP) was a COVID-safe innovation that enabled staff in any location to help clients who were in the physical Library building; this allowed us to provide real-time, personal service while maintaining physical distance.

The VSP was rapidly prototyped in March 2020 using Microsoft Teams, gaining national and international interest as an industry exemplar with numerous requests for the prototype.

The VSP was enhanced by using Teams’ live captioning function for clients who are Deaf or hard of hearing, or those who speak English as a second language.


"Thanks for offering me advice from afar. Very helpful to know someone is there to help in a timely fashion."

Staff member sitting at computer speaking with student via virtual service point

View the FRLS overview infographic