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Reference at the Dawn of Web 2.0


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Presentation given to Rutgers library school students.

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Reference at the Dawn of Web 2.0

  1. 1. Reference Insights: Reference at the Dawn of Web 2.0 Janie L. Hermann, Princeton Public Library Technology Training Librarian [email_address]
  2. 2. Web 2.0 is… <ul><li>A Social, Collaborative Web, defined by trends and sites such as: </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs/RSS - Wikis - Podcasts - Social software – Friendster - MySpace - - furl - Flickr - IM – lastfm - Folksonomies - Mashups - Tagging </li></ul>
  3. 3. Is “The Desk” Going to Disappear? <ul><li>Some are predicting the demise of the traditional reference desk in libraries. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Could this happen? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can it be prevented? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Should it be prevented? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How does reference work stay vital in the Information Age? </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Adaptation is the Name of the Game <ul><li>Library reference departments must: </li></ul><ul><li>Continually scan the environment to find new ways to remain relevant in a world where information is available 24/7 at the touch of a button. </li></ul><ul><li>Promote flexibility and willingness to try new ways of providing service as they are the key to relevancy. </li></ul><ul><li>Broaden the definition of “reference” in order to expand services offered. </li></ul><ul><li>Be prepared to live on the cutting edge. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Social Trends Affecting Reference <ul><li>It is a 24x7 world </li></ul><ul><li>More choice and options than ever before </li></ul><ul><ul><li>food, clothing, ISPs, cars, search engines, television stations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Self-help (too impatient to wait) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grocery stores, Gas stations, Airlines, and Banks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need for instant gratification </li></ul><ul><li>Multi-tasking as a way of life </li></ul>
  6. 6. Technology Trends <ul><li>The Web is the “new normal” </li></ul><ul><li>Instant everything – including messaging </li></ul><ul><li>Cell Phones are rapidly morphing in to multi-purpose devices </li></ul><ul><li>“ Information Creators” abound </li></ul><ul><ul><li>web sites, wikis and blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wireless access is everywhere </li></ul><ul><li>RSS pushing information to the desktop </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Google Factor <ul><li>Have you visited the labs lately? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>A plethora of new services that compete with libraries </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>personalized search, search history, news alerts, search sets, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Google Scholar </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 9. What has Princeton Done? <ul><li>In the past 4 years, we have: </li></ul><ul><li>Experimented with Roving Reference </li></ul><ul><li>Joined the QandANJ network </li></ul><ul><li>Expanded our definition of reference </li></ul><ul><li>Revised our email reference policy </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporated Technology Assistants in to our public service team </li></ul><ul><li>Begun to offer dedicated telephone reference and other new services </li></ul>
  9. 10. Divide and Conquer <ul><li>Hiring specially trained “technology assistants” </li></ul><ul><li>Establishing a “Welcome Desk” </li></ul><ul><li>Retooling email reference </li></ul><ul><li>Offering dedicated telephone reference </li></ul><ul><li>Expanding programming </li></ul><ul><li>Taking the show on the road </li></ul><ul><li>Offering Reference by Appointment </li></ul>
  10. 11. Technology Assistants <ul><li>Three “Tech Aides” hired in March 2004 </li></ul><ul><li>Always on duty daily from 1-9 pm and during busy hours on weekends </li></ul><ul><li>Work side by side with the librarian at the reference desk </li></ul><ul><li>They allow the librarian to concentrate on reference work and not worry about computer issues constantly </li></ul><ul><li>Also assist with teaching classes, tracking statistics, maintaining the Tech Center, setting up equipment and much more! </li></ul>
  11. 12. Technology Assistants cont… <ul><li>In a typical shift a Tech Aide would: </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure all of our 100 public computers and peripherals are running </li></ul><ul><li>Help customers connect to our wireless network </li></ul><ul><li>Assist with managing SAM </li></ul><ul><li>Answer printing questions/deal with printer jams </li></ul><ul><li>Help customers save their work to CDs, flash drives or floppies </li></ul><ul><li>Supervise the Technology Center </li></ul>
  12. 13. The “Welcome Desk” <ul><li>A new feature for our new library </li></ul><ul><li>First point of contact </li></ul><ul><li>Staffed by librarians ~ 90% of the time </li></ul><ul><li>Brief questions, directions, ready reference </li></ul><ul><li>Reader’s Advisory </li></ul>
  13. 14. Retooling Email Service <ul><li>Provide a form for users to fill out </li></ul><ul><li>Advertise it on every page of your site </li></ul><ul><li>Check for new messages continually (treat email like the telephone) </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be restrictive with the type of questions that can be asked </li></ul><ul><li>Responding within hours, not days </li></ul>
  14. 17. Dedicated Telephone Reference <ul><li>Begun in January 2005 as a pilot project; now a permanent fixture. </li></ul><ul><li>Telephones are staffed with a dedicated staff member during busy times – mostly afternoon and early evening. </li></ul><ul><li>It has been a win-win situation for us </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Customers are happy to get through right away </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Librarians feel less stress on the reference desk and give better in-person service </li></ul></ul>
  15. 18. Dedicated Telephone Reference cont… <ul><li>Approximately 33% increase in telephone calls during the first 6 months: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>October-December 2004: 1,738 calls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>January-March 2005: 2,585 calls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>April – June 2005: 2,487 calls </li></ul></ul>
  16. 19. Expanding Programming <ul><li>Tuesday Technology Talks </li></ul><ul><li>DataBytes </li></ul><ul><li>Tech Time in the Lab </li></ul><ul><li>Internet Drop-In </li></ul><ul><li>SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) </li></ul><ul><li>Literacy Volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>Citizenship Classes </li></ul><ul><li>Ask-a-Lawyer </li></ul>
  17. 20. Reach Out and Get Out! <ul><li>The “Bringing the mountain to Mohammed” theory </li></ul><ul><li>Visit local computer user groups, job hunters, PTAs, networking groups </li></ul><ul><li>Promote reference services and subscription databases by “bringing the show on the road” </li></ul>
  18. 21. Reference by Appointment <ul><li>Academic libraries have been offering this service for many years </li></ul><ul><li>Complex reference queries are best handled in a private session </li></ul><ul><li>Allows time for the librarian to prepare </li></ul><ul><li>Another “choice” for busy people </li></ul><ul><li>Eases stress at the reference desk </li></ul>
  19. 22. The Next Frontier <ul><li>Instant Messaging </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No longer just for “kids” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasingly being used in business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Café Reference Service </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Extension of the Mohammed theory </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Roving with notebook PCs or PDAs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is this where the desk disappears? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Invisible Librarianship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-help websites, creating guides, virtual training </li></ul></ul>
  20. 23. Finding the Future: <ul><li>Remain relevant </li></ul><ul><li>Embrace change and be flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Evolve with social and technological trends </li></ul><ul><li>Be readily available, easy to use and respond quickly </li></ul><ul><li>Provide choices </li></ul>
  21. 24. Web 2.0 Definitions <ul><li>wik·i (wĭk'ē) n. </li></ul><ul><li>A collaborative website whose content can be edited by anyone who has access to it. </li></ul><ul><li>[From Hawaiian wiki, to hurry, swift] </li></ul><ul><li>web·log (wĕb'lôg ' , -lŏg ' ) n. </li></ul><ul><li>A website that displays in chronological order the postings by one or more individuals and usually has links to comments on specific postings. </li></ul><ul><li>RSS </li></ul><ul><li>An acronym which represents one of three possibilites: </li></ul><ul><li>Rich Site Summary (RSS 0.91) </li></ul><ul><li>RDF Site Summary(RSS 0.9 and 1.0) </li></ul><ul><li>Really Simple Syndication (RSS 2.0.0) </li></ul>
  22. 25. Blogs – A Closer Look <ul><li>A blog is a website for which an individual or a group frequently generates text, photos, video, audio files, and/or links. </li></ul><ul><li>Typically (but not always) updated on a daily or weekly basis. </li></ul><ul><li>The term is a shortened form of weblog . </li></ul>Source: Wikipedia
  23. 26. How Blogs differ from traditional sites <ul><li>A blog provides many advantages over a standard web page, including these: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows for easy creation of new pages: new data is entered into a simple form and then submitted. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Automated templates take care of adding the article to the home page, creating the new full article page (Permalink), and adding the article to the appropriate date- or category-based archive. </li></ul></ul>Source: Wikipedia
  24. 27. <ul><ul><li>Allows for easy filtering of content for various presentations - by date, category, author, or other attributes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A blog (usually) allows the administrator to invite and add other authors, whose permissions and access are easily managed. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readers can comment and converse with the blog author(s) </li></ul></ul>How Blogs differ from traditional sites Source: Wikipedia
  25. 36. What’s a Wiki? <ul><li>A Web site that can be quickly edited by its visitors with simple formatting rules. </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by Ward Cunningham in the mid-1990s to provide collaborative discussions and create a sense of community among users. </li></ul><ul><li>There are several &quot;Wiki&quot; tools on the market for creating such sites, including,, and </li></ul>Source: Computer Desktop Encylopedia
  26. 37. Key Characteristics of a Wiki <ul><ul><li>enables documents to be written collectively (co-authoring) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>written in a simple markup language using a web browser </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>every entry and change is recorded and can be viewed in a log </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a history of changes and older versions is accessible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>changes can be discussed in a forum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a wiki entry can revert to a previous version at any time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A single page is referred to as a &quot;wiki page&quot;, while the entire body of pages, which are usually highly interconnected via hyperlinks, is &quot;the wiki“. In effect, it is a very simple, easier-to-use database . </li></ul></ul>
  27. 56. What about RSS… <ul><li>Feeds for new books and videos </li></ul><ul><li>Feeds for programs </li></ul><ul><li>Feed from a library blog </li></ul><ul><li>Aggregate. </li></ul>