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vrs

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  • Model for a virtual reference service Benchmarking and investigation done in 2011. Virtual Reference Services (VRS) June 2011 report Task team (Ike, Ngwako & James) Purpose The purpose of the task team was to investigate current Virtual Reference Services (VRS) models and identify possible new or revamped service model. Introduction Virtual Reference Service (VRS) “Virtual reference is reference service initiated electronically where patrons employ computers or other technology to communicate with public services staff without being physically present. Communication channels used frequently in virtual reference include chat, videoconferencing, Voice-over-IP, co-browsing, e-mail, and instant messaging.” (ALA definition).   Virtual reference ( VR ) is the remote, computer-mediated delivery of reference information provided by library professionals to users who cannot access or do not want face-to-face communication. Virtual reference service is most often an extension of a library's existing reference service program ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reference ). Types of VRS The Two types are Asynchronous and Synchronous. Asynchronous VRS is computer mediated but sent at different times (e.g texting or e-mail) Synchronous VRS is computer mediated but sent in real-time (e.g. IM or videoconferencing). Current model The current VRS arrangement has features of an asynchronous model. This model is however limited in terms of an array of services the IR Directorate envisage to provide in the future. It is proposed that an additional features need to be added in order to provide real-time VRS service. Proposed VRS model The task team proposed a synchronous VRS model which provides a real time 24 hour service. Integration with existing reference services or other sections in the library not advisable.   Proposed new features ● Chat (Instant messaging) and Voice over IP ● Voice over IP not available after hours and during weekends and holidays ● Use of SMS for instant messaging service (considering the sms batches available). ● Aggregation of social networks (Meebo) into the service Meebo Virtual reference (instant messaging) Can embed a widget in your website and customize the colors. Aggregator capabilities facebook, blog and is suitable for virtual reference purposes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfOr5x3XhNs&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxX9u6xAA80&feature=related ● Access to pre-determined searches repository ● accessible through CCMS ● user interface keyword searchable Parameters of time ● 24 hours service ● Availability of service ● indicate type of service ● Non-availability of service - auto sms /email service (Weekends and holidays). Staffing On the basis of the above parameters and the demands of real-time VRS it is proposed that additional dedicated staff be considered so as to provide an effective service. Privacy issues ● Protection of personal details The proposed provision of access to predetermined and previously done search services raises privacy issues. For an example, will the users see on their screen- that the search they submitted is assigned to which librarian or is not even assigned to anyone at all? ● ALA guidelines for implementing and maintaining a Virtual Reference Services. http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/rusa/resources/guidelines/virtual-reference-se.pdf Virtual Reference Services (VRS) September 2011 report Benchmarking Report on Virtual Reference Service: Phase II Overview The IRD: Directorate needed to enhance its current Virtual Reference Service (VRS) in line with the 2015 objectives of UNISA as an ODL institution. As a consequence, a three member task team comprising of IRD: Information Search Librarians namely Mr Ike Hlongwane, Mr James Kitching and Mr Ngwako Machethe was formed early July 2011. The aim of the study was to investigate Virtual Reference Service (VRS) models in use in academic libraries in higher education institutions locally and internationally so as to expand the existing Virtual Reference Service (VRS) used by the information search librarians at UNISA Library. The nature of the VRS used by information search librarians at UNISA Library has the following features: it uses e-mail service, fax and post to deliver literature searches to remote clients; the mobile functionality is also available but only serves for notification purposes and is one way communication. The focus of our benchmarking was more on a local level however Internationally a comprehensive list exist on the ALA website but we identified the National Library of Singapore ( http://www.nl.sg/ ) as worth of learning from. Their Reference Point makes use of the mobile phones in reference services. Methodology The first phase of the investigation commenced with an online survey of VRS in academic libraries internationally. A comprehensive list exists on the ALA website. After some analysis the task team identified and adopted the National Library of Singapore’s VRS which is called Reference Point as the most relevant and advanced VRS. See ( http://www.nl.sg/ ). The Reference Point makes use of the mobile phones in reference services. Clients can ask for assistance in identifying and using appropriate printed and electronic resources to meet their information needs. With this kind of model, the ISLs will not only be able to send literature search results directly to the Mobile phones in the form of links but will also be able to answer queries, suggest search strategies and guide clients to relevant and useful resources. In the second phase, academic libraries in higher education institutions in South Africa were investigated. However, the survey was limited to universities where the potential of such a service exists and excluded university of technologies after a careful analysis showed no such service exist. The team surveyed 13 Universities through the use of telephonic interviews and at times merging this with e-mails. It must be emphasised that there is not a single case were only e-mail was used. Findings Chat services and Question point are common in most libraries and where they don’t exist plans are at an advanced stage to have this running. These services extend to the library as a whole and are not only meant for individual sections or units within the library. University of Cape Town (UCT) is making use of libguides and Meebo. A point to bear in mind is that this is an e-mail based service linked to Facebook and twitter. They have a repository of searches and a suggestion box where subject librarians invite comments. University of the Free State uses SMS service to expand their reference service. Users are able to contact the library from anywhere and the library is able to send back the response to the clients’ cellular phones. Recommendations 1. Further investigation in the form of a field visit to the University of Cape Town and University of the Free State. These two institutions provide a distinct but complementary case study which would provide an in-depth insight into UNISA’s current Virtual Reference Service. The functionality/features recommended in the initial report are found, locally, not in a single institution, but in both the above two institutions combined. These include: ● Chat (Instant messaging) and Voice over IP ● Voice over IP not available after hours and during weekends and holidays ● Use of SMS for instant messaging service (considering the sms batches available). ● Aggregation of social networks (Meebo) into the service 2. At the University of Cape Town (UCT), the libguides in particular could be explored to check the potential for search repository to handle assignments wherein students do the same assignment topic. 3. At the University of Free State (UFS), the SMS service need to be explored. The potential of this service lies in the fact that at UFS SMS communication is two way while with our current service it is only one way. 4. It is important to note that the implementation of an enhanced VRS will depend on the urgency with which these recommendations are carried out.
  • The Library deals with diverse queries on a daily basis. The interaction between the Library and the various clients is through various channels and queries are handled by different directorates. There is therefore a need for the library to deal with client queries in a coordinated manner as a way to improve the way the library communicates with clients. A meeting was also held with stakeholders in all the affected directorates and the agreement is that there should be a coordinated way to deal with queries. BACKGROUND The library handles queries in various directorates and it is currently experiencing an influx of queries .The fact that the Library does not have a one point of contact or section which deal with queries further exacerbate the problem .Some of the challenges that are currently faced by the Library are : Lack of coordination in dealing with enquiries which result in the inability to provide accurate, reliable responses and feedback. The same query being handled twice or thrice (duplication) which result in clients being given different responses in most cases Not having a repository of queries and responses leads to waste of time because staff end up dealing with the same query over and over again Currently what happens is that when a client calls the library the query may be handled by the IRD, or Client services and when a client e-mail the query, it is handled by IRD and Library Technology. All of these challenges outlined above therefore lead to poor handing of queries and result in poor service to our clients. The fact that the Library divided its client group according to the method they contact us instead of grouping the same type of work in one area (e.g. telephone queries, e-mail queries, Facebook) also makes it difficult to handle the queries in a coordinated manner.
  • ask a short question form, to channel all client contact with the Library into one point supported by the QuestionPoint Knowledge Base containing model answers and templates
  • One stop shop
  • Thinking about Design Not many libraries have mobile versions of their websites (that I’m aware of), but it’s worth starting to think about, at the least, a mobile page. And on that page, access to the mobile chat Qwidget. And you could do it the default way, by putting the Qwidget itself on the page and letting it transform into a button for the right kind of user, or you could eliminate the middle man, use your own image, and link to the shorter, cleaner MobileQwidget URL up above. http://blogs.sos.wa.gov/library/index.php/2010/04/how-to-try-chat-via-iphone-without-the-iphone/ http://www.askus247.org/collapsibleqwidget.html http://www.amigos.org/node/333
  • Transcript

    • 1. Virtual reference serviceVirtual reference service
    • 2. ““Virtual reference is reference service initiatedVirtual reference is reference service initiated electronically where patrons employ computers orelectronically where patrons employ computers or other technology toother technology to communicate with public services staff without beingcommunicate with public services staff without being physically present. Communication channels usedphysically present. Communication channels used frequently in virtual reference include chat,frequently in virtual reference include chat, videoconferencing, Voice-over-IP, co-browsing, e-videoconferencing, Voice-over-IP, co-browsing, e- mail, and instant messaging”mail, and instant messaging” ALA definitionALA definition
    • 3. VRSVRS •Task team to investigate current Virtual Reference Services (VRS) models and identify aTask team to investigate current Virtual Reference Services (VRS) models and identify a possible new or revamped service modelpossible new or revamped service model •Asynchronous and synchronousAsynchronous and synchronous •New tools were investigated, eg Meebo, LibGuidesNew tools were investigated, eg Meebo, LibGuides •Benchmarking - local and internationalBenchmarking - local and international
    • 4. VRSVRS •Call Centre closing downCall Centre closing down •Handling of queries in the LibraryHandling of queries in the Library •Same queries handled by different DirectoratesSame queries handled by different Directorates •Available channels/ tools used in the LibraryAvailable channels/ tools used in the Library •Stakeholders consultedStakeholders consulted •Training for staffTraining for staff •Job descriptionsJob descriptions
    • 5. current situationcurrent situation Clients currently contact the Library via the following channels :  Face to face  Postal Social media — Facebook and Twitter Email Fax to email QuestionPoint
    • 6. QuestionPoint would replace all mailboxes (linked to bib-circ)QuestionPoint would replace all mailboxes (linked to bib-circ) The mailboxes currently in use would be used for internal referrals but all clientThe mailboxes currently in use would be used for internal referrals but all client contact will come via thecontact will come via the Ask a LibrarianAsk a Librarian page where the choice would be thepage where the choice would be the client’sclient’s The advantage of using QuestionPoint as the only point of contact is the factThe advantage of using QuestionPoint as the only point of contact is the fact that it is backed by an adminisatration system, a client enquiries function and athat it is backed by an adminisatration system, a client enquiries function and a knowledgebaseknowledgebase Stats can be drawn from QuestionPointStats can be drawn from QuestionPoint
    • 7. chatchat Our proposed live chat periods will be 9:00-11:00 andOur proposed live chat periods will be 9:00-11:00 and 14:00-15:3014:00-15:30 
    • 8. chatchat
    • 9. web pageweb page A webpage was modelled on the University of Wisconsin Library’sA webpage was modelled on the University of Wisconsin Library’s Ask a librarianAsk a librarian pagepage   The current FAQ’s will serve as a self-help service before asking a question. During 2013 aThe current FAQ’s will serve as a self-help service before asking a question. During 2013 a comprehensive FAQ page will be developed using LibGuides.comprehensive FAQ page will be developed using LibGuides.