"But I still use dialup!" Using virtual reference to serve rural patrons

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Virtual reference services, such as Oregon's L-net (http://www.oregonlibraries.net) try to ensure access to trained librarians for all of the people in their states. However, rural patrons can be particularly challenging to reach and aren't using these services as much as they should. This presentation points out this problem and suggests some possible solutions.

This presentation was last given as a lightning talk at the 2010 Oregon Virtual Reference Summit in Troutdale, Oregon.

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"But I still use dialup!" Using virtual reference to serve rural patrons

  1. 1. “But I still use dialup! Using virtual reference to serve rural patrons Matthew “Buzzy” Nielsen Assistant Director, North Bend Public Library This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution United 05/07/2010 States license. For more information, visit http://www.creativecommons.org
  2. 2. What we're trying to do “Target library and information services to persons having difficulty using a library and to underserved urban and rural communities, including children from families with incomes below the poverty line. “Expandand access to learning services for ” information and educational resources in a variety of formats, in “ Provide electronic and all types of libraries, for individuals of all ages. other linkages between and among all types of libraries.s, in all types ” of libraries, for individuals of all ages. ” Library Services & Technology Act goals
  3. 3. What we're trying to do “Target library and information services to persons having difficulty using a library and to underserved urban and rural communities, including children from families with incomes below the poverty line. “Expandand access to learning services for ” information and educational resources in a variety of formats, in “ Provide electronic and all types of libraries, for individuals of all ages. other linkages between and among all types of libraries.s, in all types ” of libraries, for individuals of all ages. ” Library Services & Technology Act goals
  4. 4. Are we?
  5. 5. Assumption: Rural patrons have just as many questions as urban & suburban ones.
  6. 6. They're just different questions “How do I freeze-brand cattle?” “What do I feed the emus I just bought?” “What the f*&@ is this thing we found in the yard?” Photo credits: Wesley Fryer, macinate on Flickr, Heidi Gentes
  7. 7. We've got plenty of rural patrons 25.00% 20.00% . 15.00% 10.00% 5.00% 0.00% 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 % of Oregonians % of L-net ques- in rural counties tions from rural counties
  8. 8. But are they asking enough questions? 25.00% 20.00% . 15.00% 10.00% 5.00% 0.00% 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 % of Oregonians % of L-net ques- in rural counties tions from rural counties
  9. 9. Why?
  10. 10. Access to broadband Rural counties in Oregon Broadband deployment in Oregon (darker is better) Source for broadband data: Federal Communicationcs Commission (2009)
  11. 11. The un- and under-served Rural counties with un- and under-served populations (indicated in yellow)
  12. 12. An aging population
  13. 13. What can we do about it?
  14. 14. Focus on institutions Schools Libraries Other publicly- available access points Photo sources: Elkton High School, Langlois Public Library
  15. 15. Go mobile
  16. 16. Don't make it Flashy (AKA don't force users to use bandwidth-hungry widgets.)
  17. 17. Thanks! This presentation was made using open source software. Ubuntu Linux OpenOffice OpenOffice Calc Chromium GIMP Shutter Operating system Impress Spreadsheet app Web browser Image editor Screenshot utility Presentation app

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