Chat Sessions That Require Followup
News and views on chat reference, IM reference, email reference, VoIP reference, video reference, SMS reference, phone reference, roving reference, and face-to-face reference.
Just a quick note to mention that I've been trying to settle down in using a handful of tools to extend the reach of content I create for reference and instruction purposes.
For a number of years now, my library (Baruch College's Newman Library) and libraries from five other schools in the City University of New York system (Borough of Manhattan Community College, Brooklyn College, CUNY Graduate Center, Hunter College, and John Jay College) have been sharing a subscription to QuestionPoint and its academic reference cooperative service. Lately, a few other libraries in CUNY have expressed interest in joining our subscription group. For a number of reasons, I really hope at least one library does decide to participate.
This spring, I hope to migrate this blog from my teachinglibrarian.org domain, where it has resided for the past six years to my stephenfrancoeur.com domain. I'm not sure what would be the best URL for my blog:
Earlier this January, Chad Boeninger wrote on his blog, Library Voice, about the lackluster use of the library's video reference service at Ohio University, which is advertised on the Skype portion of the library's Ask a Librarian pages. The library had also been using Skype to power a video reference kiosk located far from the reference desk (the service was ended last fall due to lack of use). Although Boeninger believes that his users may never get on board with the idea of requesting help via video chat, he does not have regrets about the project:
Hot off the presses comes the announcement this morning that Mosio and OCLC have agreed to work together to offer Mosio's Text a Librarian product to QuestionPoint subscribers. The announcement I've just received in my email didn't mention too many specifics about what this really means. I'm hopeful that for those of us who work at institutions subscribing to QuestionPoint already can now add on the Text a Librarian service and see the questions appear in the same web page as our email questions and chat transcript archives.
The latest issue of RUSQ (volume 49, issue 2) features an article now sitting at the top of my "to-read" list:
Using a scoring rubric based on RUSA’s “Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers” (RUSA Guidelines), librarians’ performance in 106 chat reference transcripts in which a patron was determined to be acting inappropriately were compared to 90 randomly chosen transcripts from the same time period in which no inappropriate behavior was identified. Librarians serving appropriately behaving patrons scored significantly better on two of five major dimensions of the RUSA Guidelines. Recommendations for librarians serving inappropriately behaving patrons and for improving the two affected dimensions are given.
For a number of years, Columbia University has been hosting an invitation-only reference symposium that has periodically attracted quite a bit of attention (the 2007 event featured a debate on the future of the reference desk that generated a lot of discussion beyond the day). This March, the symposium is open to all. Registration is $45. Also noteworthy this year: there is an open call for presentations at the event.
2009 will probably be remembered by those of us who follow digital reference services as the year that mobile reference services really took off. Between Twitter and text message reference services, there were tons of blog posts, articles, presentations, discussion threads on mailing lists and social networking sites, in which library staff explored how they could embrace (or were already embracing) mobile technology for reference services. In an article in Library Journal this October, Ellyssa Kroski noted the same upward trend in activity around text message reference services. From my perspective, the high point of activity was the first Handheld Librarian Online Conference, which was held in July and, according to the home page of the conference, attracted over 2000 attendees. I was able to listen to only a few presentations on the day of the event, but I found myself taking in many more in the following weeks from the archives of the presentations (a hugely helpful resource!)
At the end of November, I led a workshop at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System in which I tried to share with a group of mostly public librarians what sorts of trends and innovations were taking place in reference services in academic libraries. Here are my slides (also on Slideshare) and the link to the Google Sites pages I made as an online "handout."
In this guest editorial by Lorraine Pellack in the latest issue of RUSQ (volume 49, issue 1), I really liked the common sense approach the author suggests that we follow when answering directional reference questions. Thinking of any reference encounter as an opportunity for relationship building seems like a great strategy to ensure that particular transaction goes well and to make it more likely the patron will come back again with a more challenging and (for the librarian) engaging question.
At today's meeting of the Virtual Reference SIG, Alexa Pearce from NYU's Bobst Library made a nice point in her presentation about how librarians need to have the feel for the native texting experience if their libraries are running a text message reference service. When NYU first started its service a year and a half ago, they opted to just get a smartphone to run the service; they are now switching over to use the Library H3lp web interface to receive and reply to text message queries. Pearce noted, though, that during the months that the librarians used a phone to get and send messages, they got a real feel for the medium of SMS that will serve them well. The librarians experienced the communication medium in the same way that the patrons do; through this experience, the librarians have become well attuned to the best practices and conventions of communicating via SMS. The implication is that if you are a librarian and you are about to begin staffing a text message reference service that uses a web interface for sending and receiving messages, it helps if you are already comfortable in using SMS on a phone.
Sue Polanka, the Head of Reference at Wright State University Libraries, has posted on her blog today a link to a survey she created that asks your opinion about the utility and value of thirty different features that reference databases (such as Credo, Gale Virtual Reference Library, etc.) should have. She's doing this part of her preparation for a presentation at the next Charleston Conference, where many database vendors will also be in attendance. I just took the survey in under ten minutes.
Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting "alongside" QuestionPoint's Susan McGlamery and the Internet Public Library's Alison Miller. The venue was a webinar hosted by WebJunction and titled "Digital Reference Summit: Be Where Your Users Are." It was my first time presenting in a webinar and I found the experience as a presenter a bit odd: alone in my office, I made my 20-minute presentation into my speakerphone while advancing my slides in Wimba Classroom. I had a hard time gauging the reaction of my audience. I also missed the ability to pace around while speaking, which I find helps me burn off any extra energy and anxiety (maybe I'll get a wireless headset for my phone if I'm asked to do an online presentation again).
A librarian in Florida received a marriage proposal from her boyfriend via the statewide Ask a Librarian service there.