Friday, September 07, 2007

Fall 07 Virtual Reference: Sharing Experiences

Tuesday, October 9th 2:30 - 4:30 PM Host: Patty Porcaro, Holy Cross Library - Scalia Electronic Classroom
Join the ARC Information Literacy and Reference Special Interest group for an informal afternoon to learn more about virtual reference offerings, experiences, and best practices when performing on online reference interview. Attendees will be invited to share their own experiences as well as new reference/information literacy happenings at their libraries.
Campus Maps:
Parking: Free/Hogan Center, no pass needed

Agenda & Readings

ARC Virtual Reference Meeting Notes

Attendees: Patty Pocaro Holy Cross, Diane Gallager Holy Cross, Christine Drew WPI, Laura Robinson Hanlan WPI, Alice Baron Anna Maria, Heidi McCann WCC, Barbara Morales both Holy Cross & Anna Maria, Carol Myles Assumption, Callie Curran Morrell Assumption

Attendees talked about virtual reference offerings at their institutions.

Holy Cross participates in collaborative effort
24/7 Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities virtual reference
19 (out of 28) colleges in the US across 3 time zones, some colleges have dropped out for various reasons (staffing issues, lack of marketing, etc.)
Contract with who covered midnight-2am, after 7pm on Sundays. librarians are located all over but they cannot contact them directly, this is the only academic group that has as a client, Patty feels they serve the group well
Holy Cross monitors 4 hours per week (max 2 hours at a time), larger Universities monitor more hours. Reference librarians do not do this while trying to staff the desk at the same time.
Listserv for institutional coordinators to communicate & annual meeting
When to work schedule system is used.
Each institution does their own marketing – Holy Cross sends emails to their students, and there is a spike when this message is sent
Quality Control coordinator, transcripts are provided for all with names of responders
They have logins for the other universities databases in order to serve the other universities patron because they are servicing their students
Each participating college has a link on the 24/7 system so that it makes it easy to find some basic info (databases, journal holdings, policies, etc)
Part of the mission is “to instruct” not just to respond to question
Reference interview – fast paced, need to be quick though in your interactions
Assumption does IM using Trillian 9am-10pm M-F, Sunday 9-3pm while at reference desk they try to keep as ready reference, but sometimes refer student to visit library, advertised as “quick answer” service, but sometimes they get a bit too involved then they suggest they phone or stop by, seems to be used by students, and one administrator
Mt Wachusett Community College is use Plugoo when library is open 7:30-8:30pm, consistent low volume since started in 2001. They ask if chatter is a student
WPI uses Trillian and chatango – we get questions from mainly students, but some non-WPI questions, usually just quick, staffed while at reference desk
Anna Maria does not offer virtual reference chat at this time

Patty also mentioned that from 3-6 & 6-9:30pm they use student reference assistants at their reference desk to help answer questions.

Guidelines or Recommendations for Virtual Chat Interactions
Brainstorm by group

At first contact introduce yourself and role if need be

  • For some clarification of status (student of institution or not) WCC uses triage, to determine to refer patron to WCC subscribed resources or to refer non-students to public library resources
  • Sometimes they send a link to one of their canned online tutorials if useful (Problems Logging in, Requesting a Book through the Catalog)
  • Some feel that some canned responses may be useful for chat if traffic increases, but use is steady, but not overwhelming so most have not created templates for responses
  • Communicate timeframe if you are going off to search for something:
    just a moment, I am checking that for you
    polite to also keep them posted on progress
  • Acknowledge the question and sometimes paraphrase back to assure you are on the right track
  • Sometimes ask users what they have already tried
  • Respond in shorter bursts, so that the end user is given timely feedback, input and doesn’t stray away
  • Medium lends itself to being more informal, mimic user, okay to use txt shorthand if users are, :-) use smilies if they are
  • Suggest that the user go and try a specific resources, and to check back in a minute or two while you continue with difference strategies
  • Ending the transaction with questions, invitation to come back for help: Does that help? Is there anything else we can do for you? Would you like more research suggestions? Some librarians give out personal email to follow up. Sometimes ask for users email if you wish to follow up with them later
  • Sometimes staff use their own chat service to send links and mention quick things to staff at reference desk, the utility of virtual chat can be a productivity tool
  • More comments or suggestions?! Add others to the blog if you think of more.

    New Chair/Secretary
    No volunteers for chair, Christine agreed to continue for one more year. Callie agreed to take the secretary role. We discussed meeting schedules and the group determined we would like still like to meet twice per year.

    ARC Strategic Plan - Christine
    - Exploring use of new technologies for meetings
    - Symposia idea – Information Literacy & Assessment

    ACRL NE and NELIG could possibly partner for an event in 2010-2011 or ARC could host its own event. The group felt it was a fine idea to pursue but we will discuss at future meetings.

    Customer Service SIG has waned and surveyed people to get a sense of what types of discussion they would like to have. Nichols held the last meeting, it was out of the way for some. Barbara said they will be planning a meeting for this SIG after responses from the survey come in.

    Next Meeting, Date, Topic, Location
    Getting the Library Message Out: Facebook, mySpace, and Creative Ideas
    Tentative Date: Friday January 11 @ 2:30 @ WPI

    Assumption found in a Facebook option to target messages to the community (online flyer) but have not tried that (for a small fee).

Upcoming Events:
Assumption’s citation help night is tomorrow
@ WPI Scare fest: Library Services & Vendor Fair 10/31
Save the date: Heidi reminded us about the NELIG meeting: November 30 Friday – Library 2.0 with breakout hands-on campus, Leominster Campus of MWCC


Christine Drew said...

Agenda also includes:

-- New Chair/Secretary?
COLLABORATIVE Central Massachusetts Regional Library System STRATEGIC PLAN
2009 – 2013

GOAL II. Demonstrate ARC’s impact on the community.

Objective A. Promote demonstrate ARCs expertise in information literacy and assessment

1. Sponsor an information literacy/assessment symposium for the greater ARC community, including audiences such
as faculty members and administrators.

Who: Reference IG
When: F2010
Assessment: Survey feedback with participant

Trish said...

Just wanted to add another idea to the list of Guidelines and Recommendations for Virtual Chat Interactions:

Just as with traditional reference, you always want to give the patron something--especially when you feel that the transaction may have been less than successful--a phone number or name for further pursual. In our case at Holy Cross, we can refer them to their home institution but even with one's own patrons--referring them to the professor or, say, a law library for more specialized assistance is useful.

Also, there is an ACRL Online Seminar coming up, "Virtual Reference Competencies: Acquire and Improve Technical Skills and Knowledge" offered, Oct. 1-20, 2007. The seminar leader is Diane Kovacs, author of one of the books on Christine's reading list: "The Virtual Reference Handbook: Interview and Information Delivery Techniques for the Chat and E-Mail Environments."

Christine Drew said...

TUESDAY, January 8th 2:30-4:30pm
at WPI.