Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Virtual Reference: Bringing the Library to Your Living Room

6,667 views

Published on

by Gwen Exner and Holly Mabry, NCknows Online Reference Librarians
Part of the NCLA's RASS/DLIG "Current Trends in Reference" online conference March 14, 2013

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

Virtual Reference: Bringing the Library to Your Living Room

  1. 1. Gwen Exner and Holly Mabry NCknows Online Reference LibrariansBringing the Library to Your Living Room 3/19/2013
  2. 2. What is virtual reference? “Virtual reference is a reference service initiated electronically where patrons employ computers or other technology to communicate with public services staff without being physically present.” RUSA Guidelines for Implementing and Maintaining Virtual3/19/2013 Reference Services: http://bit.ly/zn6MM0
  3. 3. What is virtual reference? Communication channels used frequently in virtual reference include:  Chat  Videoconferencing  Voice-over-IP  Co-browsing  E-mail  Instant messaging. RUSA Guidelines for Implementing and Maintaining Virtual3/19/2013 Reference Services: http://bit.ly/zn6MM0
  4. 4. Technology Requirements All types of virtual reference will require at least:  one computer,  one staff member, and  access to online reference materials There are a wide variety of software and web client options, depending on what sort of virtual reference you’re offering.3/19/2013
  5. 5. Common Software Options Paid Optional Fee Free QuestionPoint Facebook ChiliFresh LibraryH3lp Twitter Zoho Chat LibChat Trillian Digsby Mosio Skype Pidgin RefChatter Google Talk Second Life3/19/2013
  6. 6. Real-time AsynchronousPrivate Video Texting Chat Email Virtual World Second Life, AETZone (ASU) Forums Public Facebook Twitter3/19/2013 Clip art from http://www.clker.com/
  7. 7. Best Practices: Privacy Develop a chat privacy policy that addresses the following concerns:  Records: How long are session transcripts saved, and who can access them? How long is metadata saved?  Patrons: Are patrons required to log in to use the service? If yes, is the log-in connected in any way to PII?  Librarians: Should librarian data be anonymized?  Contents: What should be done if the patron volunteers PII? ALA Guidelines for Developing a Library Privacy Policy:3/19/2013 http://bit.ly/YEbrJX
  8. 8. Scheduling Staff: Rule 1 Virtual reference is still reference• Answering questions does not take less time just because it’s typed instead of spoken.• Reference interviews take longer, and require more effort from patrons, because patrons can’t just show you their supporting documents (homework, error msg, etc.).• Walking patrons through a process without co-browsing takes longer, & patrons may not realize/say they’re lost.• Good customer service means meeting patrons’ expectations of responsiveness for their venue. The Internet is expected to be very fast.3/19/2013
  9. 9. Scheduling Staff: Rule 2 Two real-time reference methods which are invisible to each other should not be staffed simultaneously by 1 person. Examples: F2F patrons can’t see chat, & so expect service now Chat patrons can’t see F2F ones, & expect service now Invisible and both real-time: Asking for trouble3/19/2013
  10. 10. Scheduling Staff: Rule 2 Two real-time reference methods which are invisible to each other should not be staffed simultaneously by 1 person. Examples: F2F patrons can see phone Phone patrons can be told if there’s people waiting Both real-time, but not invisible: OK3/19/2013
  11. 11. Scheduling Staff: Rule 2 Two real-time reference methods which are invisible to each other should not be staffed simultaneously by 1 person. Examples: Chat patrons can’t see email, & expect service now Email patrons can’t see chat, & expect service eventually Invisible, but not both real-time: OK3/19/2013
  12. 12. Training & Preparation There are a number of ways to prepare for virtual reference. • Libraries: Prepare correct and thorough online fact sheets and FAQ. https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/faq/ is a great example. • Librarians who are new to the library, including consortium members: Bookmark online fact sheets, FAQ, & critical pages • Librarians who are new to a given virtual environment: Practice with the software, both as patron & librarian. Try some past questions. • Experienced virtual librarians: Analyze past transcripts of other librarians – it will make you think of new resources to use. • Everyone: Practice with e-resources, especially unfamiliar ones.3/19/2013
  13. 13. Best Practices: During a chat Best practices for F2F reference translate well to virtual, but there are some notable additions:  Be a person. Remember, they can’t see you - Introduce yourself, express enthusiasm & empathy.  Be fast. A quick “hello” is better than a slower, more complete greeting. Store, copy, & paste common phrases.  Find out age/grade. Remember, you can’t see them - History is not the same in college & grade school.  Ask for confirmation. Check after every step to make sure they’re where you think they are. (cont)3/19/2013
  14. 14. Best Practices: During a chat (cont)  Stay in contact. Say something frequently to let them know you’re still there. Ask if they’re still there.  Limit your jargon. You can’t see them look blank, and they won’t tell you they don’t understand your terms.  Limit your time. Most sessions should be <= 20 minutes. Longer questions can be referred, or shifted to email. Idle patrons can be ignored until they come back.  Don’t put up with abuse. It’s very easy to try to shrug off cussing, sexual “joking”, etc. because “it can’t be threatening if they’re not really here.” Don’t.3/19/2013
  15. 15. Best Practices: Problem patrons Problem patrons in an online environment tend to be more over the top than in F2F.  Using names is a best practice, but consider whether or not to use real names. Note: Female names attract more harassment.  Remember that putting up with harassment means you or another librarian will face it again. Correcting/banning saves trouble for everyone. Note: Putting the window to the side and ignoring it usually works, if banning isn’t possible.3/19/2013
  16. 16. Current Usage: Session Length Analysis of how long questions take to answer has quite similar results for both academic and public libraries. For both types: Question completion time 30% 28% are done in <1 minute. 25% 52% take 3 minutes or less. % Completed 20% 75% take 9 minutes or less. 15% 93% take 20 minutes or less. 10% 5% 0% Only 7% of questions take 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 more than 20 minutes to Minutes complete.3/19/2013 Based on stats from NCknows from 08-2011 through 07-2012
  17. 17. Current Usage: Activity Patterns Analysis of when questions arrive reveals minor differences in when academic and public library patrons use virtual reference. Hourly Activity Pattern Public Academic 10% 8% 6% 4% 2% 0% 8 AM – 5 PM 6 PM – 11 PM 12 AM – 7 AM Public 67% 29% 4% Academic 57% 33% 10%3/19/2013 Based on stats from NCknows from 08-2011 through 07-2012
  18. 18. Virtual reference in the future…  Video chat reference  Mobile reference  Split local/consortium service3/19/2013
  19. 19. Virtual reference in the future…  Video chat reference: Some libraries are already experimenting with this, and as bandwidth increases & webcams become more common, it becomes more feasible. Scheduled video reference sessions are more likely than open reference in most libraries, due to the high requirements on availability and attention.  Mobile reference  Split local/consortium service3/19/2013
  20. 20. Virtual reference in the future…  Video chat reference  Mobile: Virtual reference through mobile devices is already a common practice on the patron’s end. Virtual reference services and online resources will continue to adapt for the mobile platform, literally providing library access for librarians and patrons anytime, any place.  Split local/consortium service3/19/2013
  21. 21. Virtual reference in the future… Video chat reference Mobile Split local/consortium service: No external librarian will know a library’s resources & environment as well as locals do, and few libraries can afford to pay local librarians for 24/7 coverage. The future is likely to bring an increase in libraries which staff their own queues during open hours, and contract with others to staff them after hours.3/19/2013
  22. 22. Thank you Questions?3/19/2013

×