Michigan Virtual Reference Conference
Don Boozer
KnowItNow24x7 Coordinator
support@knowitnow.org
A Brief Look at
41 public libraries
24 academic libraries
18 individual volunteers
850,000+
sessions
A Brief History
of Virtual Reference
We begin 8,000 years ago...
@
@
@
Guidelines for Behavioral Performance
of Reference and Information Service
Providers
http://www.ala.org/rusa/resources/gui...
"...the librarian's first step in initiating the
reference transaction is to make the patron
feel comfortable in a situati...
Make the patron feel comfortable.
Providing library service via chat
technology requires competencies in
both communication skills as well as
reference skil...
The positive or negative emotions
evoked by the user's interaction with a
service or resource may mean more to
them in the...
i love when the people ask you
things like "how was your day"
and things like that
~ KIN24x7 patron comment
Guidelines for Behavioral Performance
of Reference and Information
Service Providers
Approachability
Interest
Listening/Inquiring
Searching
Follow-up
Approachability
Interest
Listening/Inquiring
Searching
Follow-up
Quality Assurance
Committee for
KnowItNow24x7
QuACK
Volunteers
HMS Relentless
Ozzie@Sinclair Hi, I'm Ozzie, a librarian at Sinclair. Thanks for your question!
Guest why cant i own a canadian?
Ozzie@Si...
Thank You
Slides posted at
http://www.slideshare.net/donboozer
Don Boozer
don@cpl.org
See Also…
 “A Systematic Review of Research on Live Chat Service.”
Reference & User Services Quarterly. Winter 2011. 172-...
List of Reasons Transcripts Received Very Poor Rating
from KIN24x7 practicum student study
•Not conducting a reference int...
Image Credits
Title page: quokka - http://www.bubblews.com/news/140007-the-animal-world039s-happiest
Relief panel from Nim...
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction
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Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction

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Presented at the Michigan Virtual Reference Conference, May 2014.
Description: Expertise in searching, a broad knowledge of resources, and a commitment to professionalism are all hallmarks of a good reference librarian. Communication and interpersonal skills, however, are just as important in providing a quality reference transaction, and translating these “soft skills” into the virtual environment can be challenging. Virtual reference transactions by chat, email, or text provide no visual or auditory cues to the customer or librarian. For this reason, it becomes even more important for librarians to be wary of any unintended assumptions being made by them or any wrong intentions being relayed to the customer. Periodic review of transcripts can be an effective tool in assessing conversational tone and other facets of the interpersonal interaction. Additionally, the hard skills of searching and subject expertise greatly contribute to whether information and resources can be located, but the soft skills determine whether the customer’s experience will be positive and will encourage her or him to seek out assistance in the future. This presentation will use methods, models, and data from Ohio’s statewide virtual reference service to demonstrate the impact of these skills in the online environment and to provide ideas on how these skills can be incorporated into regular assessment and training of librarians providing virtual reference service.

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  • KnowItNow24x7 became a statewide service in Ohiuo in 2004, the year the Olympics came back to Greece and The Return of the King won Best Picture. This year we’re celebrating a decade of providing virtual reference service to the residents of Ohio. We’re funded through an LSTA grant awarded by the State Library of Ohio.
  • Finally, we’ve been a very busy service since 2004. In that time, librarians staffing KnowItNow24x7 have handled over 850,000 sessions. So, that gives you an idea of the context from where I’ll be pulling some our examples and statistics as we move forward.
  • So,both HARD and SOFT SKILLS are integrated into the reference transaction. You really can’t employ one to the exclusion of the other.
  • Additionally, they have to be integrated into any training program for new virtual reference librarians as well as remind veteran virtual reference librarians of the importance of communication skills and building a rapport with the other person in the reference interview process. This is the online table of contents for our training materials. Section 1 has to do primarily with how to work on the software and the hard skills of VR. The soft skills are scattered throughout and are given as much if not more emphasis than the technical issues. Once again, don’t see them as an “either-or”. Incorporate BOTH into your training regime to the extent that you can.
  • One strategy towards this goal is our Quality Assurance Committee for KnowItNow24x7, or as we know it…
  • The QuACK. The QuACK is composed of 6 individuals (plus me as an Ex Oficio member). The committee was formed in 2009 and has a Chair that manages the meetings, creates the agenda, keeps everyone updated; and a Secretary and compiles the meeting minutes.The primary charge of the QuACK is to review transcripts from KnowItNow24x7 on (at least) a monthly basis, choose one or two exemplary sessions, and post those (with several honorable mentions) on the QuACK blog on the service’s extranet, the KnowItNow24x7 Community Site. Committee members are also encouraged to post “Second Look” transcripts which either provide constructive criticism and alternative strategies exhibited in a session or call attention to positive behaviors that can be emulated by other librarians.We had lengthy discussions when the committee was formed on how best to review transcripts: how many, what instrument, what criteria, etc. This has changed slightly over the years, but currently, each QuACK member gets 30 random transcripts divided into 3 categories: public, academic, and after-hours. Our 24x7 after-hours coverage is currently handled by OCLC QuestionPoint and after July will be by North Carolina’s ChatStaff. The QuACK member will then look at these. Those that, at first glance, may exhibit some good features is then ranked using our review instrument…
  • There was much discussion after we decided we wanted a standard instrument to use. We tried questionaires with over a dozen questions. We looked at forms with Likert scales. Any number of permutations. In the end, we wanted something that wouldn’t eat up a lot time, that would give a quick snapshot of the quality, and also allow both objective and subjective feedback from the QuACK reviewers. This then is the KIN24x7 QuACK Transcript Evaluation Form. As you may be able to see, we have a place at the top to paste the URL from our transcript database as well as the librarian who handled the session and his or her institution. What I’d like to point out is that we’ve included BOTH the hard and soft skills in the design of the form…
  • At the top is the “Quality of Reference Service” section which, for the most part evaluates the quality of the performance of the hard skills…
  • At the bottom is our “Quality of Communication” section which looks at the quality of the soft skills performance in the session.
  • Note that the top reference section is slightly smaller than the bottom communication section. 4 factors for the top, 7 for the bottom. This emphasis on *how* librarian interacted with the user as well as how the user perceived the interaction reflects the statement by Francoeur shown earlier that emotion plays a key role in whether or not a service or resource will be embraced. Or used again. The soft skills are *as important* if not *more important* than the hard skills we usually associate with being a reference librarian.
  • In addition to the QuACK’s look at a cross-section of the entire service, I personally supervise the individual volunteers we have staffing the service. On a regular rotating basis, either every month or every other month (for the more veteran volunteers), I look at every transcript they do and provide feedback to them on a selection of their sessions. I specifically provide positive feedback when they exhibit a conversational tone or build an especially good rapport with a patron. This feedback provides them a chance to re-align to service expectations and this is reflected in patron ratings provided to them which are typically 10% higher than the average for the service as a whole. If you are in a supervisory position, I highly encourage you to provide both constructive criticism (which I do as well) but also provide kudos when kudos are due. I will admit looking at every transcript takes some time for 18 volunteers, but I have found it to be very worthwhile and the volunteers often express thanks *and* followup with questions.
  • But… in closing, I’d like to look at how we can practice the soft skills and maintain our composure, our equanimity, within the virtual reference transaction when we deal with pranks or with those who don’t really want information but simply to get a reaction from the librarian. The strategy I share with our librarians is…
  • Don't Forget to Smile: Utilizing Soft Skills within the Virtual Reference Transaction

    1. 1. Michigan Virtual Reference Conference
    2. 2. Don Boozer KnowItNow24x7 Coordinator support@knowitnow.org
    3. 3. A Brief Look at
    4. 4. 41 public libraries 24 academic libraries 18 individual volunteers
    5. 5. 850,000+ sessions
    6. 6. A Brief History of Virtual Reference
    7. 7. We begin 8,000 years ago...
    8. 8. @
    9. 9. @
    10. 10. @
    11. 11. Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers http://www.ala.org/rusa/resources/guidelines/guidelinesbehavioral
    12. 12. "...the librarian's first step in initiating the reference transaction is to make the patron feel comfortable in a situation that can be perceived as intimidating, confusing, or overwhelming. The librarian’s initial response in any reference situation sets the tone for the entire communication process, and influences the depth and level of interaction."
    13. 13. Make the patron feel comfortable.
    14. 14. Providing library service via chat technology requires competencies in both communication skills as well as reference skills. ~ Miriam Matteson “A Systematic Review of Research on Live Chat Service.” Reference & User Services Quarterly. Winter 2011.
    15. 15. The positive or negative emotions evoked by the user's interaction with a service or resource may mean more to them in the long run than whether they are able to complete the task they set out to do. ~ Stephen Francoeur “Reference Back Talk: Testing,Testing: Virtual Reference UX” (Library Journal, 6/1/13)
    16. 16. i love when the people ask you things like "how was your day" and things like that ~ KIN24x7 patron comment
    17. 17. Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers
    18. 18. Approachability Interest Listening/Inquiring Searching Follow-up
    19. 19. Approachability Interest Listening/Inquiring Searching Follow-up
    20. 20. Quality Assurance Committee for KnowItNow24x7
    21. 21. QuACK
    22. 22. Volunteers
    23. 23. HMS Relentless
    24. 24. Ozzie@Sinclair Hi, I'm Ozzie, a librarian at Sinclair. Thanks for your question! Guest why cant i own a canadian? Ozzie@Sinclair Hi. Guest Hello Ozzie@Sinclair I'm not sure I understand your question. Ozzie@Sinclair Can you tell me more? Guest I want to know why i can own a canadian slave Ozzie@Sinclair It will help me to know if this is for a class assignment. If so, which class or subject is it for? Guest social studies or some <$#%&> like that Ozzie@Sinclair I'm happy to help you, but no swearing please. Otherwise, I'll have to end the session. Ozzie@Sinclair The 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery. Here's some information on that: http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/13thamendment.html Guest ur that kind of librarian?? How annoying.... well <$#%&> it Ozzie@Sinclair Thanks for using our service.
    25. 25. Thank You Slides posted at http://www.slideshare.net/donboozer Don Boozer don@cpl.org
    26. 26. See Also…  “A Systematic Review of Research on Live Chat Service.” Reference & User Services Quarterly. Winter 2011. 172-90. “The Three R’s: Rapport, Relationship, and Reference.” Reference Librarian. Jan-Mar 2010. 45-52. “Best Practices in Chat Reference Used by Florida’s Ask a Librarian Virtual Reference Librarians.” Reference Librarian. Jan-Mar 2010. 53-68.  Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services from User, Non-User and Librarian Perspectives. http://www.oclc.org/research/activities/synchronicity.html
    27. 27. List of Reasons Transcripts Received Very Poor Rating from KIN24x7 practicum student study •Not conducting a reference interview •Asking closed questions •Not asking the right questions •Making assumptions •Not responding to or acknowledging questions •Not explaining why sources were sent •Not managing the chat and expectations •Not explaining what information could be found •Trying to convince patrons that they were looking for different information than they actually wanted •Not establishing or maintaining word contact with the patron •Not acknowledging or greeting the patron •Not answering questions •Not using friendly or conversational tones •Making the patrons ask for information more than once •Giving stipulations on how many questions you will help answer •Telling a student that he or she could get all of the information from their class materials •Using canned messages •Telling the patron that they were working with another patron but not coming back to help them •Not asking if question was completely answered •Not asking if the patron needed help with anything else •Not providing a referral Ignoring requests for more help •Not providing a closing statement or saying goodbye •Simply logging off •Not sending any resources for the patron to consider
    28. 28. Image Credits Title page: quokka - http://www.bubblews.com/news/140007-the-animal-world039s-happiest Relief panel from Nimrud: http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/322611 Assyrian synonym list: http://cdli.ucla.edu/P345976 City letter carrier: http://arago.si.edu/index.asp?con=2&cmd=1&id=194277 Alexander Graham Bell: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/bellhtml/004046.html Verirrt (Ritter fragt Reisigsammler nach dem Weg), signiert A. Friedländer: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alfred_Friedl%C3%A4nder_Verirrt.jpg Wanderer fragt nach dem Weg: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stra%C3%9Fenszene_1842_Wanderer_fragt_nach_dem_Weg.jpg NYPL Information Desk: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nypl/3110116862 Librarian with teens: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nypl/3110133552 Lathe operator: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8623220@N02/2179234054 Quokka: http://www.arkive.org/quokka/setonix-brachyurus/image-G123089.html Spectrum: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/clouds/color.htm Crossword Puzzle: http://publications.nigms.nih.gov/findings/mar06/puzzle_march06.html Ducks: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andf%C3%A5glar,_till_art,_Nordisk_familjebok.png Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jigsaw.svg Screaming Woman: http://numerique.bibliotheque.toulouse.fr/collect/photographiesanciennes/index/assoc//ark:/74899/B315556101_TRUC13 37.dir/C0001337.JPG

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