IPL: A Digital Reference Service


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An overview the IPL’s website, anatomy of an IPL reference response, and statistics gathered from 2007 data about reference service and digital collections usage.

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  • On the IPL’s Website, you’ll find information on the IPL’s history and its beginnings in the “About the IPL” area. As you can see, there is information about who is involved, and the IPL’s policies and mission statement. The IPL has been focused upon helping library students learn how to be digital reference librarians, from answering questions to studying patron user behavior and patterns – all in an online environment. There are two parts to the IPL that work together to do this: (next slide)
  • Over 40,000 links in the IPL’s collection need constant maintenance, review, and link-checking. Some of the links are grouped into “Special Collections” such as POTUS…(next slide)
  • POTUS is Award winning – was developed by a student in 1997. It’s heavily used. Let’s look at a couple of other areas that are also well-known: (next slide)
  • This is great for information about Science Fair projects – we are asked for this quite often. (Next slide)
  • Anything you’d like to know about the U.S. States is linked through here. Remember that our collection is reviewed by Library grad students, librarians, and all-around information specialists. Stately Knowledge, POTUS, and the Science Fair Resource Guide, are linked through KidSpace and the main site. Here is KidSpace… (next slide)
  • KidSpace features these resources and other special collections include “Frequently Asked Reference Questions,” known as “FARQs,” and pathfinders to information. (next slide)
  • Google Analytics Glossary Pageview: A pageview is an instance of a page being loaded by a browser Visits (aka “sessions”): a period of interaction between a visitor’s browser and a particular website, ending when the browser is closed/shut down, or when the user has been inactive on that site for 30 minutes. Unique Visitors: Represents the number of unduplicated visitors to your website over a specified period of time. - From Google Analytics, Glossary of Terms
  • Difference between charts: Total received is the total number of reference questions received. The total number of processed questions excludes questions because of scope, law/med rejection, quota. The 2007 figures represent data collected from 1/1/07 – 12/17/07. The IPL Ask-A-Question service was temporarily closed for the holidays from 12/17/07 - end of 2007.
  • IPL: A Digital Reference Service

    1. 1. Internet Public Library (www.ipl.org) A Digital Reference Service
    2. 2. Presentation Overview <ul><li>What is the IPL? </li></ul><ul><li>A tour of the IPL website </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The collection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Ask a Question Service </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Question Answering </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anatomy of an IPL Response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reference interview and e-mail reference </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IPL usage statistics </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Home page of the Internet Public Library’s Website http://www.ipl.org
    4. 4. About the Internet Public Library This area gives info about the IPL’s history, who has been and is involved, and its policies and mission statements.
    5. 5. The IPL Collection
    6. 6. Scroll down the IPL’s homepage to see parts of the collection FARQs (Frequently Asked Reference Questions) and Pathfinders
    7. 7. POTUS
    8. 8. Science Fair Resource Guide
    9. 9. Stately Knowledge
    10. 10. KidSpace Science Fair Resource Guide Stately Knowledge POTUS
    11. 11. TeenSpace Poetry Wiki FAEQs (Frequently Asked Embarrassing Questions) Research & Writing Guide
    12. 12. Research & Writing Guide
    13. 13. Poetry Wiki
    14. 14. FAEQs (Frequently Asked Embarrassing Questions)
    15. 15. At the bottom of the homepage you will find the Ask a Question Service Primary location of the Ask a Question digital reference service
    16. 16. Ask a Question Service <ul><li>Web based form </li></ul><ul><li>Answers sent to patron’s e-mail </li></ul><ul><li>Questions and responses maintained in a database </li></ul>
    17. 17. This is the Ask a Question form for adults. Top of form
    18. 18. This is the bottom half of the Adult Ask a Question form:
    19. 19. There is also an Ask a Question form especially for children (under 13 years old) through KidSpace Top of form
    20. 20. This is the bottom half of the KidSpace Ask a Question form: Note that questions about homework are asked.
    21. 21. LIS student volunteers are trained to answer reference questions: <ul><li>Content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>how to select reliable, free sites, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>how to cite an online source </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>how to respond to a patron (using the IPL’s method) </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. A timely response <ul><li>When a patron submits a question, it is assessed and processed internally within 24 hours. </li></ul><ul><li>Questions are addressed immediately based on the need-by date set by the patron. </li></ul><ul><li>Student volunteers scan the database of ready-reference and research questions “To Be Answered”, and then claim a question. </li></ul><ul><li>Once a question is claimed by a student volunteer, it must be answered within 24 hours. </li></ul><ul><li>Overall turnaround time, as stated on the website, is 3 days. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
    23. 23. The Anatomy of an IPL Response <ul><li>6 parts to an IPL answer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Greeting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Acknowledgement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Answer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Source citations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search Description </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Closing </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. 1. Greeting <ul><li>All answers require a greeting. </li></ul><ul><li>“Greetings from the IPL” is a good neutral choice. The manual indicates that you may instead use “Dear” with the patron’s name but responses should not be informal if the patron used a formal tone. </li></ul>
    25. 25. 2. Acknowledgment <ul><li>The acknowledgement is a brief paraphrasing, and should demonstrate an understanding of the question. </li></ul><ul><li>Summarize the question if it is long or complex. </li></ul><ul><li>DO NOT cut and paste the entire question as it will sound awkward. </li></ul>
    26. 26. 3. Answer <ul><li>The IPL emphasizes the need for responses to offer free, reliable sources of information that best match the patron’s questions. </li></ul><ul><li>With free resources, the IPL suggests that a response include at least three of the most specific URLs possible. </li></ul><ul><li>It is important to provide a complete answer yet not overwhelm the patron. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember that the answer may be equally or better presented from print materials and/or subscription databases. The IPL will soon provide a public library finder. </li></ul>
    27. 27. 4. Source citations <ul><li>The place where you located the information is the resource used. </li></ul><ul><li>It helps establish authority of the answer provided. </li></ul><ul><li>When possible, indicate the author or creator of the information found within the resource. </li></ul>
    28. 28. 5. Search description <ul><li>Give search strategy used for each resource. </li></ul><ul><li>This allows your patron to repeat the search if necessary. </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforces IPL’s objective to enhance information literacy. </li></ul>
    29. 29. 6. Closing <ul><ul><li>A &quot;thank you&quot; for visiting the IPL and for using the service. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An invitation to return to the IPL if more information is required. </li></ul></ul>
    30. 30. What about the reference interview? <ul><li>Because the IPL’s Ask a Question Digital Reference Service is email-based, conducting a proper reference interview is difficult. </li></ul><ul><li>The patron’s information request form provides the basis to prepare a response. </li></ul><ul><li>Asking the patron for more information or clarification slows down the process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In 2007, feedback was requested 2% of the time; of those requests, 20% of patrons replied to clarify their initial question. </li></ul></ul>
    31. 31. Sample question (1)
    32. 32. Sample question (2) <ul><li>Question submitted by an eighth grader from the UK. </li></ul><ul><li>She asked a science question about capillary wall structure and hemoglobin. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing that she is an eighth grader, that this is for school, that she needs only one sentence for her assignment, and knowing what other sources she used gives us a lot of clues about what our patrons are looking for so that we can provide the right answer to the right question. </li></ul>
    33. 33. IPL Users and Usage <ul><li>Assessment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Site usage statistics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Using Google Analytics </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Digital reference service statistics </li></ul></ul>
    34. 34. Overview of Site Usage <ul><li>During January 2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1,137,125 visits used: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>47 browsers, 7 connection speeds, in 177 languages </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>80.88% new visits </li></ul></ul>
    35. 35. Digital Reference Service Usage <ul><li>Statistics for 2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>22,589: total communication received </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>434.4 questions or messages submitted per week </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>57 questions or messages submitted per day </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>21,863: total number of reference questions received; 13,420 processed. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The difference between 22,589 and 21,863 accounts for questions or messages outside the scope of IPL’s service, administrative matters, in addition to suggestions or comments about the IPL that are received through feedback forms on the site. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    36. 36. Digital Reference Service Usage, 2002-2007 Number of reference questions: Total Received <ul><li>2002: 7,744 </li></ul><ul><li>2003: 11,301 </li></ul><ul><li>2004: 13,964 </li></ul><ul><li>2005: 13,049 </li></ul><ul><li>2006: 15,432 </li></ul><ul><li>2007: 21,863 </li></ul>Number of reference questions: Total Processed <ul><li>2002: 7,255 </li></ul><ul><li>2003: 10,491 </li></ul><ul><li>2004: 12,971 </li></ul><ul><li>2005: 12,377 </li></ul><ul><li>2006: 12,188 </li></ul><ul><li>2007: 13,420 </li></ul>
    37. 37. Patron Satisfaction <ul><li>Common ways to measure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User Surveys </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tracking returning users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Thank you” comments </li></ul></ul>
    38. 38. User Surveys Chang, H.R., & Holland, M.P. (2005). User Satisfaction Survey of Ask-A Question Service at the Internet Public Library. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 10 (2), 61-73.
    39. 39. Tracking Returning Users (1) <ul><li>1 st Quarter: January-March 2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New visits: 78.28% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of page views: 12,369,197 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of visits: 3,307,198 </li></ul></ul>- Google Analytics
    40. 40. Tracking Returning Users (2) <ul><li>2 nd Quarter: April – June 2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New visits: 75.84% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of page views: 9,113,378 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of visits: 2,567,795 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>3 rd Quarter: July – September 2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New visits: 75.59% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of page views: 6,774,498 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of visits: 1,973,500 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>4 th Quarter: October – December 2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New visits: 64.99% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of page views: 10,025,987 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of visits: 2,758,914 </li></ul></ul>
    41. 41. “Thank you” <ul><li>Tracking the number of “thank yous” began in September 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Approximately 10% of users send their appreciation </li></ul><ul><li>All acknowledgments are passed along to the student volunteers who answered the question </li></ul>
    42. 42. An Exceptional “Thank you” <ul><li>Question: </li></ul><ul><li>What are the most frequently asked questions regarding directories? </li></ul><ul><li>Which directories do you refer people to the most? </li></ul><ul><li>What are some important directories for today's world? from: @gmail.com location: Maryland area: General Reference reason: For a report on directories in my library science class, information access. school: Yes sources consulted: Bopp, Richard E. and Linda C. Smith. Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. 3rd ed. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 2000 (ISBN: 1-56308-624-7; ISBN-13: 978-1-56308-624-3). </li></ul><ul><li>Thank you! I appreciate the information and will greatly add to our presentation. It's always a pleasure to use your services and I highly recommend them to others. You're doing the community a great service. Yay for librarians! hehe </li></ul>
    43. 43. Bibliography
    44. 44. Discussion <ul><li>Questions or comments? </li></ul>