Serving the DIY Patron


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Serving the DIY Patron

  1. 1. Serving the DIY Patron: Library Instruction at the Point of Need Meredith Farkas, Portland State University December 2013
  2. 2. Don’t worry about taking notes! Slides and links at
  3. 3. Help-seeking in libraries: a history Then Closed stacks Mediated searching Information scarcity Now Open stacks Search tools designed for the end-user Self-checkout, patron-driven acquisitions, unmediated ILL, etc.
  4. 4. At the same time...
  5. 5. Plus, most millennials think they’re research...
  6. 6. Information = Abundant Time = Scarce Attention = scarce ____________________ Do the traditional models still work when information isn’t scarce?
  7. 7. What has this meant for reference?
  8. 8. Reference usage has declined “According to Association of Research Library (ARL) statistics, the number of reference transactions taking place in ARL libraries has declined by more than half since 1995. Control that statistic for enrollment and the decline is greater: in 1995, ARL libraries provided an average of 10.1 reference transactions per student FTE; in 2009 the number was 3.6, a decline of over 60%.” Anderson, Rick. (2011). “The Crisis in Research Librarianship” Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37(4).
  9. 9. Reference transactions in U.S. academic libraries Source: NCES
  10. 10. Reference transactions in public libraries Source: NCES
  11. 11. Reference transactions in CA public libraries Source: NCES
  12. 12. Reasons patrons might not ask for help Library anxiety Low academic self-efficacy - asking for help means admitting they lack ability. Gender - girls “lose their voice” during adolescence Lack of understanding of the role of the librarian (marketing problem?) They are “DIY patrons”
  13. 13. The DIY patron Wants to figure it out themselves Is accustomed to using Google and other web services Is accustomed to using quick help sites like WikiAnswers, Yahoo! Answers, etc. Wants things to be intuitive Looks for pointers about how things work
  14. 14. “We desperately need to invest serious thought and effort into ways that we will not only provide access to information, but also maintain the connections between the wired user and the information expert to demonstrate that the added value that we provide users in this informationsaturated environment is far greater than the mere convenience of ‘getting it all online.’” Brette Barclay Barron, “Distant and Distributed Learners Are Two Sides of the Same Coin,” Computers in Libraries 22 (Jan. 2002): 24–28.
  15. 15. The answer then for reference instruction Disintermediate whenever possible Develop instructional content that mimics answer services on the web like Yahoo! Answers (small, specific bits of content) Make that content available and easily findable at their points of need 24/7 For academic/K-12 librarians: Embed instructional content into the fabric of classes
  16. 16. Online learning objects
  17. 17. INSTRUCTION Learning objects REFERENCE
  18. 18. INSTRUCTION REFERENCE Learning objects
  20. 20. These are two different things
  21. 21. Do students come looking for this?
  22. 22. Or this?
  23. 23. So what about these? Great when assigned Useless when not part of a class
  24. 24. Focused on specific needs
  25. 25. Discovering needs Reference transactions Web statistics Usability testing Ethnographic research
  26. 26. Models that support DIY patrons
  27. 27. Library DIY @ Portland State Reference librarian in a box Small pieces of instructional content Based on questions we get at the reference desk Each one answers just one question If in-depth help needed, link out Information architecture gets students to just the info they’re looking for
  28. 28. Response and next steps User testing in winter Placement and marketing to make it visible at students’ points of need On the library website In the library On campus
  29. 29. Making content findable at points of need
  30. 30. And how findable is this? Links to tutorials Under research resources/start your research Under help/research help Under Services Under Library Services --> Instruction Within LibGuides Unfindable from some library websites
  31. 31. Get in their flow
  32. 32. Where might patrons look for/need help on your library website? Ask a Librarian page Any help type of pages Research guides Databases page (and inside databases) Catalog Webpages for specific services (ILL, gov docs, etc.)
  33. 33. “The library needs to be in the user environment and not expect the user to find their way to the library environment”-Lorcan Dempsey
  34. 34. Go where your users are in the Learning Management System (LMS) on an Intranet in any local social networks or relevant community websites on Facebook on mobile devices in computer labs (on the desktop)
  35. 35. Digital research help in the physical world
  36. 36. Link patrons to library instructional content where they need it In the library In the stacks, places people get lost By collections patrons have trouble using Machines patrons have issues with Other places people have information needs Buses, business support organizations, daycare centers, community centers, high schools, academic department offices, residence halls, computer labs, etc.
  37. 37. QR Codes Short for Quick Response Originally developed for inventory control Need a QR code reader to read Scan a QR code to access info or take action
  38. 38. Hicks, A., & Sinkinson, C. (2011). Situated Questions and Answers. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51(1), 60–69. Placed posters with QR codes in the library in places where patrons encountered difficulties For the journals area: Poster says “How do I... find older issues of the journal? find the call number for the journal I need? find a scanner? find a copy machine? get more help?
  39. 39. QR Codes are a stopgap Near Field Communications A way for devices to receive information at close range RFID is an example User no longer has to take the initiative to scan In the meantime Use QR codes with shortened URLs (,, tinyURL, etc.)
  40. 40. Another way to reach DIY students Embed information literacy instruction seamlessly into the DNA of classes Create learning objects, activities, and self-paced tutorials that faculty can easily integrate into their courses Embed library instruction meaningfully into classes (beyond the one-shot) Requires a tremendous amount of relationship-building with faculty + time
  41. 41. Questions? Comments? Find me at mgfarkas (at) twitter: librarianmer facebook: meredithfarkas Slides and links at