Where I’m coming from…
Teen Services Librarian
+
Branch Librarian
+
Virtual Services Librarian
“I only read
books with
mea...
What do I do all day?
oSocialMedia
oOrganizePodcasting
oWebSiteUpdates
oUsabilityTesting
oStrategicPlanning
oBlogPosting
o...
Where the Magic Happens
Myths & Fallacies
You can’t build relationships
over virtual reference.
VR is a local service only.
Teens will only abuse ...
Myths & Fallacies
You can’t build relationships
over virtual reference.
VR is a local service only.
Teens will only abuse ...
Myths & Fallacies
You can’t build relationships
over virtual reference.
VR is a local service only.
Teens will only abuse ...
Myths & Fallacies
You can’t build relationships
over virtual reference.
VR is a local service only.
Teens will only abuse ...
Myths & Fallacies
You can’t build relationships
over virtual reference.
VR is a local service only.
Teens will only abuse ...
Myths & Fallacies
You can’t build relationships
over virtual reference.
VR is a local service only.
Teens will only abuse ...
Myths & Fallacies
You can’t build relationships
over virtual reference.
VR is a local service only.
Teens will only abuse ...
Myths & Fallacies
You can’t build relationships
over virtual reference.
VR is a local service only.
Teens will only abuse ...
Building Relationships
One chat at a time
A relationship can be one-sided and can
consist of just one good experience.
ChicagoDailyNews,Inc.(1904)
Continual Exchange
PATRON LIBRARY
Seek help
Find trusted source
Ask question
Give more info
Respond to answer
Receive Ques...
Don’t send questions to a Dead End.
JohnCollier(1941)
What works for us:
A Centralized System
Having an established process and
protocols insures that questions
(and patrons) a...
Tuesday, 9:15 a.m.
Consistent Expectations
Timeliness: within 48 hours, keep patron updated
Tone: friendly, inviting
Thoroughness: instructiv...
The Virtual Branch
The Virtual branch is as vital as any other branch in
your system, if not more so:
1. Routes Questions
...
Involvement
Reference
Outreach
It’s not “local,” it’s universal
Questions from your library and beyond
Who are we helping
on chat?
All of the time: Seattle Public Library
patrons & Ask-WA patrons
Sunday afternoons and other t...
Which of these questions
can you answer?
Is my hold
ready?
How do I
download
an eBook?
Why do I
have $56 in
fines?
I need ...
Which of these questions
can you answer?
Is my hold
ready?
How do I
download
an eBook?
Why do I
have $56 in
fines?
I need ...
Which of these questions
can you answer?
Is my hold
ready?
How do I
download
an eBook?
Why do I
have $56 in
fines?
I need ...
Use Common (Librarian) Sense
① Can I answer this right
now with what I have?
② NO? Get their
information:
 Card #
 E-mai...
Use Common (Librarian) Sense
① Can I answer this right
now with what I have?
② NO? Get their
information:
 Card #
 E-mai...
Use Common (Librarian) Sense
① Can I answer this right
now with what I have?
② NO? Get their
information:
 Card #
 E-mai...
Teens are Terrors
Why do they act this way? Why should we help them?
Children are our
future…
Lawmakers
Taxpayers
Parents
Supporters?
Advocates?
Detractors?
Are you a ninja?
Library: Hi there!
Patron: are u a ninja
Library: I could be
Library: Do you think I'd tell you if I were...
Why are they like
this?
They have slower access to the
frontal lobe (the “CEO” of our
brains); decision making skills and
...
No, really. Why?
They are often insecure and they feel
safer and stronger in a group.
They’re testing their boundaries and...
Heightened
Expectations
Some adults are amazed by chat
reference. Teens assume it’s there
and want it to be fast and easy ...
Peter Benson,
President of Search Institute
“Libraries…help children…by
building relationships with them,
learning their i...
40 Developmental Assets
How can chat help?
We can help introduce and
strengthen some of these important
assets.
A. Community Values Youth
B. Neigh...
10 Quick Tips
Give clear, easy to follow
instructions
Refocus when needed
Keep them updated on what
you’re doing
Be honest...
What if they don’t have a question?
The Right Staff
With The Right Stuff
 Problem Solvers
 Quick Thinkers
 Involved, Animated
 Flexible and Adaptable
 Ge...
Yes, You’re a Ninja
Library: Naruto is good for ninja reading
Patron: ok a serious moment what questions could u
ask scien...
Teens will be teens.
They will still try to abuse the service, but we must perceive that as
reaching out for connection, a...
“Real” Questions
What is one? What is an “information only” question?
Reference
Interview 101:
A question isn’t always what it
seems! Don’t assume.
“where are
the books on
china?”
“When are my books due back?”
=
“I’m going on a vacation to Italy and
really need to know which museums
to go to and about...
What causes acid rain?
9:06am, Ask-WA Co-op (chat)
What causes acid rain?
9:06am, Ask-WA Co-op (chat)
Answered in chat session with URLs and short explanation
I'm trying to find the Consumer Reports
September 2009 issue. I looked on the shelves
and there were other issues from 200...
I'm trying to find the Consumer Reports
September 2009 issue. I looked on the shelves
and there were other issues from 200...
Do you have full metal alchemist
cd episodes 14-27?
1:33pm, Seattle Public Library(chat)
Do you have full metal alchemist
cd episodes 14-27?
1:33pm, Seattle Public Library(chat)
Chat operator did a nice amount o...
JUST 3 THINGS
1. Train the right people
2. Control the quality and consistency of your answers
3. Support system-wide
jennifer.robinson@spl.org
or
ask@spl.org
Discussion
• If I set up chat reference at my institution, will other
patrons come use it? Should we require a library car...
Always Here, Always Helpful: Flexible and Fun Virtual Reference in the Public Library
Always Here, Always Helpful: Flexible and Fun Virtual Reference in the Public Library
Always Here, Always Helpful: Flexible and Fun Virtual Reference in the Public Library
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Always Here, Always Helpful: Flexible and Fun Virtual Reference in the Public Library

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From ALA 2011, RUSA session "Behind the Text: Pulling Back the Curtain on Virtual Reference"

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Always Here, Always Helpful: Flexible and Fun Virtual Reference in the Public Library

  1. 1. Where I’m coming from… Teen Services Librarian + Branch Librarian + Virtual Services Librarian “I only read books with meaning.”
  2. 2. What do I do all day? oSocialMedia oOrganizePodcasting oWebSiteUpdates oUsabilityTesting oStrategicPlanning oBlogPosting oChatReference oQuestionPointMonitoring oTextReference oDigitalBooksSupport oTeachComputerClasses
  3. 3. Where the Magic Happens
  4. 4. Myths & Fallacies You can’t build relationships over virtual reference. VR is a local service only. Teens will only abuse the service. People only ask informational questions on chat – a waste of librarian time. Face to face is only possible relationship. Librarians aren’t able to answer questions not specific to their library. Teens aren’t worth the effort. Teens don’t have valuable questions. Patrons won’t use VR for “real” reference questions. Only librarians can staff chat.
  5. 5. Myths & Fallacies You can’t build relationships over virtual reference. VR is a local service only. Teens will only abuse the service. People only ask informational questions on chat – a waste of librarian time. Face to face is only possible relationship. Librarians aren’t able to answer questions not specific to their library. Teens aren’t worth the effort. Teens don’t have valuable questions. Patrons won’t use VR for “real” reference questions. Only librarians can staff chat.
  6. 6. Myths & Fallacies You can’t build relationships over virtual reference. VR is a local service only. Teens will only abuse the service. People only ask informational questions on chat – a waste of librarian time. Face to face is only possible relationship. Librarians aren’t able to answer questions not specific to their library. Teens aren’t worth the effort. Teens don’t have valuable questions. Patrons won’t use VR for “real” reference questions. Only librarians can staff chat.
  7. 7. Myths & Fallacies You can’t build relationships over virtual reference. VR is a local service only. Teens will only abuse the service. People only ask informational questions on chat – a waste of librarian time. Face to face is only possible relationship. Librarians aren’t able to answer questions not specific to their library. Teens aren’t worth the effort. Teens don’t have valuable questions. Patrons won’t use VR for “real” reference questions. Only librarians can staff chat.
  8. 8. Myths & Fallacies You can’t build relationships over virtual reference. VR is a local service only. Teens will only abuse the service. People only ask informational questions on chat – a waste of librarian time. Face to face is only possible relationship. Librarians aren’t able to answer questions not specific to their library. Teens aren’t worth the effort. Teens don’t have valuable questions. Patrons won’t use VR for “real” reference questions. Only librarians can staff chat.
  9. 9. Myths & Fallacies You can’t build relationships over virtual reference. VR is a local service only. Teens will only abuse the service. People only ask informational questions on chat – a waste of librarian time. Face to face is only possible relationship. Librarians aren’t able to answer questions not specific to their library. Teens aren’t worth the effort. Teens don’t have valuable questions. Patrons won’t use VR for “real” reference questions. Only librarians can staff chat.
  10. 10. Myths & Fallacies You can’t build relationships over virtual reference. VR is a local service only. Teens will only abuse the service. People only ask informational questions on chat – a waste of librarian time. Face to face is only possible relationship. Librarians aren’t able to answer questions not specific to their library. Teens aren’t worth the effort. Teens don’t have valuable questions. Patrons won’t use VR for “real” reference questions. Only librarians can staff chat.
  11. 11. Myths & Fallacies You can’t build relationships over virtual reference. VR is a local service only. Teens will only abuse the service. People only ask informational questions on chat – a waste of librarian time. Face to face is only possible relationship. Librarians aren’t able to answer questions not specific to their library. Teens aren’t worth the effort. Teens don’t have valuable questions. Patrons won’t use VR for “real” reference questions. Only librarians can staff chat.
  12. 12. Building Relationships One chat at a time
  13. 13. A relationship can be one-sided and can consist of just one good experience. ChicagoDailyNews,Inc.(1904)
  14. 14. Continual Exchange PATRON LIBRARY Seek help Find trusted source Ask question Give more info Respond to answer Receive Question Set Expectations Clarify Ask for Feedback Follow up
  15. 15. Don’t send questions to a Dead End. JohnCollier(1941)
  16. 16. What works for us: A Centralized System Having an established process and protocols insures that questions (and patrons) are taken care of throughout the steps.
  17. 17. Tuesday, 9:15 a.m.
  18. 18. Consistent Expectations Timeliness: within 48 hours, keep patron updated Tone: friendly, inviting Thoroughness: instructive, complete Referrals: specialized, internal & external
  19. 19. The Virtual Branch The Virtual branch is as vital as any other branch in your system, if not more so: 1. Routes Questions 2. Quality Control 3. Peer Review
  20. 20. Involvement Reference Outreach
  21. 21. It’s not “local,” it’s universal Questions from your library and beyond
  22. 22. Who are we helping on chat? All of the time: Seattle Public Library patrons & Ask-WA patrons Sunday afternoons and other times: National Queue Seattle Public Library 61% Ask-WA Co-op 29% National 10% May 1 - May 31, 2011 chat statistics The Seattle Public Library
  23. 23. Which of these questions can you answer? Is my hold ready? How do I download an eBook? Why do I have $56 in fines? I need in depth research about a local building
  24. 24. Which of these questions can you answer? Is my hold ready? How do I download an eBook? Why do I have $56 in fines? I need in depth research about a local building You can answer all of them!
  25. 25. Which of these questions can you answer? Is my hold ready? How do I download an eBook? Why do I have $56 in fines? I need in depth research about a local building You can answer all of them! Usually that’s for a missing or late item. Can I get your library card #? Let’s get on your online account and see! I’m going to get your information for follow up. I can give you a quick overview…
  26. 26. Use Common (Librarian) Sense ① Can I answer this right now with what I have? ② NO? Get their information:  Card #  E-mail address  Time frame  As many details as possible ③ Tell them what to expect.
  27. 27. Use Common (Librarian) Sense ① Can I answer this right now with what I have? ② NO? Get their information:  Card #  E-mail address  Time frame  As many details as possible ③ Tell them what to expect.
  28. 28. Use Common (Librarian) Sense ① Can I answer this right now with what I have? ② NO? Get their information:  Card #  E-mail address  Time frame  As many details as possible ③ Tell them what to expect.
  29. 29. Teens are Terrors Why do they act this way? Why should we help them?
  30. 30. Children are our future… Lawmakers Taxpayers Parents Supporters? Advocates? Detractors?
  31. 31. Are you a ninja? Library: Hi there! Patron: are u a ninja Library: I could be Library: Do you think I'd tell you if I were, though? Patron: well id hope so Patron: im an invisible ninja Library: Do you want some ninja books? Patron: are u authorized to talk about this stuff
  32. 32. Why are they like this? They have slower access to the frontal lobe (the “CEO” of our brains); decision making skills and impulse control are affected. Image courtesy of Australia's FaHCSIA website
  33. 33. No, really. Why? They are often insecure and they feel safer and stronger in a group. They’re testing their boundaries and discovering their sphere of influence. For many, it’s a novelty to talk to a stranger who isn’t a peer. Like crank calling, but better! Image courtesy of MSNBC Media
  34. 34. Heightened Expectations Some adults are amazed by chat reference. Teens assume it’s there and want it to be fast and easy to use.
  35. 35. Peter Benson, President of Search Institute “Libraries…help children…by building relationships with them, learning their interests, and being responsive to their needs. Libraries also create an environment that is welcoming and affirming for their young clients.”
  36. 36. 40 Developmental Assets
  37. 37. How can chat help? We can help introduce and strengthen some of these important assets. A. Community Values Youth B. Neighborhood Boundaries C. Adult Role Models D. School Success E. High Expectations F. Achievement Motivation G. Reading for Pleasure H. Responsibility I. Interpersonal Competence J. Cultural Competence
  38. 38. 10 Quick Tips Give clear, easy to follow instructions Refocus when needed Keep them updated on what you’re doing Be honest Don’t judge the question Be Positive & Engaged Acknowledge impatience Set expectations Ask for cooperation Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself
  39. 39. What if they don’t have a question?
  40. 40. The Right Staff With The Right Stuff  Problem Solvers  Quick Thinkers  Involved, Animated  Flexible and Adaptable  Generalists ChicagoDailyNews,Inc.(1924)
  41. 41. Yes, You’re a Ninja Library: Naruto is good for ninja reading Patron: ok a serious moment what questions could u ask science teachers about incorporating geothermal energy into their lesson plans?
  42. 42. Teens will be teens. They will still try to abuse the service, but we must perceive that as reaching out for connection, and turn it into a positive experience.
  43. 43. “Real” Questions What is one? What is an “information only” question?
  44. 44. Reference Interview 101: A question isn’t always what it seems! Don’t assume. “where are the books on china?”
  45. 45. “When are my books due back?” = “I’m going on a vacation to Italy and really need to know which museums to go to and about operas and the story behind the Trevi Fountain about the pennies.”
  46. 46. What causes acid rain? 9:06am, Ask-WA Co-op (chat)
  47. 47. What causes acid rain? 9:06am, Ask-WA Co-op (chat) Answered in chat session with URLs and short explanation
  48. 48. I'm trying to find the Consumer Reports September 2009 issue. I looked on the shelves and there were other issues from 2009, but not the September issue. 2:08pm, Seattle Public Library(chat)
  49. 49. I'm trying to find the Consumer Reports September 2009 issue. I looked on the shelves and there were other issues from 2009, but not the September issue. 2:08pm, Seattle Public Library(chat) Referred to Magazines Dept, who then referred to ILL for photocopy
  50. 50. Do you have full metal alchemist cd episodes 14-27? 1:33pm, Seattle Public Library(chat)
  51. 51. Do you have full metal alchemist cd episodes 14-27? 1:33pm, Seattle Public Library(chat) Chat operator did a nice amount of bibliographic instruction, patron was happy to learn how to use the catalog and rushed off to try more searches
  52. 52. JUST 3 THINGS 1. Train the right people 2. Control the quality and consistency of your answers 3. Support system-wide
  53. 53. jennifer.robinson@spl.org or ask@spl.org
  54. 54. Discussion • If I set up chat reference at my institution, will other patrons come use it? Should we require a library card to use our VR? • Do we need to have the lines staffed by librarians? • What kind of training is best for chat operators? Do they need to be “specialized”?
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