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The Life and Times of Virtual Reference 
     Services in Washington State


           Ahniwa Ferrari – Ask‐WA Coordinato...
• Grant cycles for VR as far back as 2001
  Grant cycles for VR as far back as 2001

• QuestionPoint and 24/7 merge in 200...
• 25 libraries participating at start of 2008
  25 libraries participating at start of 2008
• 55 libraries at start of 200...
• QuestionPoint is an OCLC product (since 2005)
                              p       (          )
• We pay yearly (Jan‐De...
• Cooperation means libraries have each others  
  Cooperation means libraries have each others’
  backs
• Questions can b...
• Statewide:
  – Access to Spanish‐language chat for all WA libs
  – VR portal to access service @ ask wa gov
    VR porta...
• 2008 (January – April)
  2008 (January
  – 93 email questions ; 388 chat questions
  – 393 chat sessions answered by WA ...
• With proper marketing and buy in from 
  With proper marketing and buy‐in from
  stakeholders and librarians, 2010 could...
• All libraries should have received some basic 
  All libraries should have received some basic
  training by now (more i...
• I can t do as good a job “virtually”
  I can’t do as good a job virtually
• Other libraries can’t help my users
• VR isn...
•   Benefit to cost ratio is very high
    Benefit to cost ratio is very high
•   All your statistics are built‐in
•   VR ...
• You re providing chat reference, but are you 
  You’re providing chat reference but are you
  whole‐heartedly involved?
...
Francoeur, Stephen. “My Workshop on Effective Chat Reference.” 
   http://www.teachinglibrarian.org/weblog/2009/04/my‐work...
The Life and Times of Virtual Reference 
     Services in Washington State


           Ahniwa Ferrari – Ask‐WA Coordinato...
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AskWHO?

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AskWHO?
The Life and Times of Virtual Reference Services in Washington State
Ahniwa Ferrari –– Ask-WA Coordinator, Washington State Library

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  1. 1. The Life and Times of Virtual Reference  Services in Washington State Ahniwa Ferrari – Ask‐WA Coordinator Washington State Library aferrari@secstate.wa.gov  |360‐570‐5587
  2. 2. • Grant cycles for VR as far back as 2001 Grant cycles for VR as far back as 2001 • QuestionPoint and 24/7 merge in 2005; QuestionPoint and 24/7 merge in 2005;  Washington becomes a “cooperative” • Washington CTCs join the cooperative as a  group in 2008, greatly increasing the number  i 2008 l i i h b of participating institutions.
  3. 3. • 25 libraries participating at start of 2008 25 libraries participating at start of 2008 • 55 libraries at start of 2009 • 59 libraries participating NOW 9 lib i i i i O • CTCs were a huge part of that growth!
  4. 4. • QuestionPoint is an OCLC product (since 2005) p ( ) • We pay yearly (Jan‐Dec) for use of the software and for  the 24/7 cooperative backup • Costs are subsidized through the WSL using LSTA funds  (federal grant money); remaining costs are split among  participating libraries by the statewide coordinator participating libraries by the statewide coordinator • The SBCTC covered all related CTC costs for 2009; the  WSL hopes to FULLY subsidize all costs in 2010 • The biggest investment made by participating libraries  is in the staff time spent providing coverage
  5. 5. • Cooperation means libraries have each others   Cooperation means libraries have each others’ backs • Questions can be referred to experts without Questions can be referred to experts without  the questioner having to go anywhere • C ll b Collaborating, we increase our pool of  i i l f expertise exponentially; plus we got to work  together h
  6. 6. • Statewide: – Access to Spanish‐language chat for all WA libs – VR portal to access service @ ask wa gov VR portal to access service @ ask.wa.gov – More training, more marketing, more support –MMore buy‐in from more libraries; VR ubiquity b i f lib i VR bi it – A Washington Reference Summit? (or WA/OR?)
  7. 7. • 2008 (January – April) 2008 (January – 93 email questions ; 388 chat questions – 393 chat sessions answered by WA libraries 393 chat sessions answered by WA libraries • 2009 (January April) 2009 (January – – 301 email questions ; 1370 chat questions – 1609 h t 1609 chat sessions answered by WA libraries i d b WA lib i
  8. 8. • With proper marketing and buy in from  With proper marketing and buy‐in from stakeholders and librarians, 2010 could look  like this: like this: – 5000+ email questions asked; – 40 000+ chat questions asked; 40,000+ chat questions asked; – 30,000+ answers provided.
  9. 9. • All libraries should have received some basic  All libraries should have received some basic training by now (more is always available) • Some libraries still getting up and running (or  waiting for summer) waiting for summer) • M k i Marketing efforts in full force for Fall? ff i f ll f f F ll?
  10. 10. • I can t do as good a job “virtually” I can’t do as good a job virtually • Other libraries can’t help my users • VR isn’t appropriate for X type of question … i ’ i f f i • I’m already overworked, I can’t start  something new! • VR is just the next new thing, a fad … j g,
  11. 11. • Benefit to cost ratio is very high Benefit to cost ratio is very high • All your statistics are built‐in • VR better for ESL and “anxious” users b f S d“ i ” • Two words: Distance Education • Staff development / better “reference” q’s • It s collaborative and improves cooperation It’s collaborative and improves cooperation
  12. 12. • You re providing chat reference, but are you  You’re providing chat reference but are you whole‐heartedly involved? – Don’t hide access to your chat links (and don’t let Don t hide access to your chat links (and don t let  your institution hide access either); – Don’t limit the service or deter its use; Don t limit the service or deter its use; – Find/create/share your success stories! – Communicate with other VR libraries share best Communicate with other VR libraries, share best  practices (and your blunders too!)
  13. 13. Francoeur, Stephen. “My Workshop on Effective Chat Reference.”  http://www.teachinglibrarian.org/weblog/2009/04/my‐workshop‐on‐ http //www teachinglibrarian org/weblog/2009/04/my workshop on effective‐chat‐reference.html. Hirko, Buff, and Mary Bucher Ross. “Virtual Reference Training: The Complete  Guide to Providing Anytime, Anywhere Answers.” Chicago: American  Library Association, 2004. b Kern, M. Kathleen. “Virtual Reference Best Practices.” Chicago: American  Library Association, 2008. Lankes, R. David.  New Concepts in Digital Reference. San Rafael CA: Morgan Lankes R David “New Concepts in Digital Reference ” San Rafael, CA: Morgan  & Claypool, 2009. Various Authors. “Reference Renaissance: Current and Future Trends.”  Speaker’s Presentations.  http://www.bcr.org/referencerenaissance/presentations.html.  http://www bcr org/referencerenaissance/presentations html Lots more via Marie Radford’s “Virtual Reference Bibliography @ Rutgers:  http://vrbib.rutgers.edu/. 
  14. 14. The Life and Times of Virtual Reference  Services in Washington State Ahniwa Ferrari – Ask‐WA Coordinator Washington State Library aferrari@secstate.wa.gov  |360‐570‐5587
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