Who IS that Co-op Librarian?


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  • By the end of June 2004 I had a critical mass of transcripts that were rated Excellent by patron surveys, with the majority of the rest rated as Good, and examination of my transcripts by the personnel director of the service as well as my mentor through my directed fieldwork. I received my MLIS in June of 2004 and was offered a position as backup librarian. It is unusual for someone to be hired out of school—I had a year’s supply of combined academic and public transcripts that they could review.
  • Those surveys show up in our email boxes, and we get comments and corrections from librarians from the patrons’ home institutions as well as the QP quality management team.
  • If we draw a blank, there is almost always somebody else we may collaborate with
  • The average backup librarian does end up having to deal with multiple simultaneous sessions on a regular basis. Multiple means two or three at a time, though I have dealt with as many as 6 simultaneously. My boss has done 10. If we totally avoided that we would probably have to staff very heavily and the service would cost you more
  • ”—30 seconds with an unchanged screen is an eternity to the patron, though it seems to go by in a flash when you are looking for a 1930s soap powder slogan for somebody’s marketing project
    ”—30 seconds with an unchanged screen is an eternity to the patron, though it seems to go by in a flash when you are looking for a 1930s soap powder slogan for somebody’s marketing project
  • Who IS that Co-op Librarian?

    1. 1. Who is that Co-op Librarian? Academic Libraries Day Nicolette Warisse Sosulski Business Librarian, Portage District Library Staff Reference Librarian, OCLC Questionpoint
    2. 2. Who are we and where do we come from? Me:  Cornell-University of Washington queue in library school  email reference in classes through work on the Internet Public Library  Washington State Virtual Reference project  training as an evaluator on the Librarians Index to the Internet  public library chat reference internship with 24/7 March 2004-June 2004, hired as staff librarian June 2004  Day job business librarian in a public library, where I field academic reference questions each day as well as those by members of the general public
    3. 3. We don’t need sleep I work mostly on QP between the hours of 9 pm and 7 am EST. Sunday at 5 am I am the only person on for the entire country (and the UK).
    4. 4. Who are we and where do we come from? My other experience:  Secretary: Genetics department/yeast lab  Training in medical field as a health insurance counselor  Degrees in English literature and government  Marriage to a German studies /film studies grad student /professor  And for 5 years I was a dorm mother at the University of Chicago…
    5. 5. My Colleagues include     University subject bibliographers in religion, Chicana studies, Romance Languages and business Librarians who have “hit for the cycle”: public, school, academic & special libraries Librarians married to faculty Public librarians trained in the academic reference milieu in a program developed with input by librarians such as Stephen Francoeur and Nancy Huling All of us have our transcripts evaluated by 1. The patrons, when they fill out a survey 2. The quality control staff on QP 3. The home library of the patron
    6. 6. We collaborate/ communicate during all shifts  Ipswitch, a freestanding IM program--we log in during each shift  IM imbedded in the Questionpoint program
    7. 7. So what is it like when a backup librarian logs in? There are the queues (I man 68 including the UK during their middle of the night) Chat monitoring tool The institution’s policy page—we open this immediately And of course the library web page, google, etc. The institution’s databases
    8. 8. Policy Pages and Library Websites are Critical       We look at everything…  Can the backup librarian get into at least the catalog and list of databases? Or are they hidden behind a login? Have you given her an ID or library card number? We promise we will not give it out. Is there a map of the library on your site? When something changes at your library do you update your website AND your policy pages? How often do you update? Are any of your links broken? Are those wonderful print archives at your institution described anywhere at all on your web page or in your catalog? Do you have a site map or search box for the library page?
    9. 9. Of course there are some things that only you know or can access        Is there good parking today? Why doesn’t my library card work? Can you override it so I can renew all the books I have checked out? What do I have checked out? Why do I show 58.00 in fines? Why don’t you have all the required texts for for my class? Why is there no paper in the copier on 4 North? We will refer to the local institution by phone or email, especially to a subject bibliographer when appropriate. We check library hours to see when the soonest the patron can reach somebody will be.
    10. 10. Sometimes there are technical difficulties     If your catalog or web page is down the same time every day for updates, put that on your policy page. If you are having longterm problems with a database login—put the workaround on the policy page or on your site. Sometimes we cannot talk a patron through getting into cobrowsing and .the list of databases requires a login. Cobrowsing can be problemmatic due to the patron’s security settings or due to multiple patrons being handled by the same librarian at the same time— if one or more patrons is in cobrowse, whenever they respond that window goes to the forefront, possibly causing the librarian to respond to the wrong patron.
    11. 11. And speaking of Multiples Multiples are not a horrible thing     If we are “in the zone”, patrons may not even realize that we are dealing with someone other than they. If we are going to have delays we will advise that there will be delays and the interchanges will be slower. They then have the option to wait, call back later, or sometimes wait for an e-mail response, if this is not an assignment due tomorrow. Often the ones who cannot wait and have something due that day may be logging in at a time when there would have been no bricks and mortar reference possibility whatsoever—one third of a librarian is way better than one hundred percent of zero. Multiples will occur more and more as traffic grows faster than HR budgets.
    12. 12. Multiples: Continued Techniques:  Intermittent post source reference interviewing—sending the patron and querying him on how it meets his needs.      Statements like “I am going to send you several sources— let me know which is closest to what you were looking for, since I am working with several of you. Avoiding one patron’s dominating the entire librarian pool on staff (“if I open 4 sessions I can get 4 librarians to each do one of my assignments, thus leaving me more time…”) Apologizing for delays before they occur if possible. Send a message like “I am still searching” or “this is challenging—still trying to locate something” even if an information source has not yet been found. Let the patrons’ responses give input into the pace of your transactions.
    13. 13. Types of Queries Lots of bibliographic instruction Tech support
    14. 14. Things for you to think about as your utilization increases… International Patrons
    15. 15. We are all trying to develop rapport every day, just as all of us are with patrons through every format Sometimes, of course, we just can’t tell where the patron is coming from… Sometimes they give us great feedback..
    16. 16. Please feel free to let us know how to help your patrons better Susan D. Barb QuestionPoint 24/7 Cooperative Staff Manager barbs@oclc.org