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R U there? Virtual reference in academic libraries. Barry


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Presented at LILAC 2009

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R U there? Virtual reference in academic libraries. Barry

  1. 1. R U There? Virtual reference in academic libraries The Virtual Enquiry Project 2008-09 Carolyn Groom, Eithne Barry and Laurence Patterson
  2. 2. Overview 1. The Project – What is virtual reference? Background to the project– Carolyn 2. The Survey – Virtual reference survey – Eithne 3. The Software – Virtual reference software products - Laurence
  3. 3. 1.The Project
  4. 4. Virtual reference What is it?
  5. 5. Virtual Enquiry Project • 1 year project • Funded by Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) • Project partners • Edinburgh Napier University • Carnegie College
  6. 6. Terminology • Virtual reference • Virtual enquiry • Digital reference
  7. 7. Virtual reference “Using instant messaging or chat software to allow users to interact with Library staff in real time”
  8. 8. Why offer a VR service? • Another way of communicating with the library users • Reach distance and part time students • Support users at point of need
  9. 9. Examples • Queen Margaret University • lb/ • Ask Online Service
  10. 10. Examples • University of Wolverhampton • • ASSIST Service
  11. 11. Virtual enquiry project 2 research strands: 1. Evaluating current practice – Survey – Follow-up interviews
  12. 12. Virtual enquiry project 2. To provide guidance for libraries implementing a virtual reference service – Road map – Case studies – Software matrix Project website:
  13. 13. 2.The Survey
  14. 14. Our questions 1. How many academic libraries have virtual reference services? 2. What do they think of the software products they use? 3. What stops institutions from having a service?
  15. 15. Methodology • Email survey in Aug - Oct 2008 • Sent to eleven UK email discussion lists related to academic libraries and advertised online. • Prizes - iPod Touch and Amazon vouchers
  16. 16. Response • 190 responses from 130 institutions –82 from Higher Education (HE) institutions –42 from Further Education (FE) institutions –6 „other‟
  17. 17. Representative? • Half of Higher Education institutions in the UK* • One tenth of Further Education institutions in the UK* Survey bias? Or lack of interest from FE? *Department for Children, Schools and Families, (2008). Education and Training Statistics for the United Kingdom
  18. 18. 1. How many institutions have virtual reference services?
  19. 19. How do those with services rate feedback about the service? Average feedback: Users 4.15 Library staff 3.77 51
  20. 20. 2. What do they think of the software? • Which products are libraries using? • How satisfied were they with the software they chose? Small number of responses to this section
  21. 21. Which products are libraries using?
  22. 22. How satisfied were you with the software you chose?
  23. 23. „Technology - chat services are blocked to stop students messing around in class and LRC.‟ (FE college) 3. What stops institutions from developing a service…?
  24. 24. „It's not just a case of no staff time, but rather staff not being available at the time that our users would most need the service. 99% of our students are part-time, and taught in the evenings and at weekends, when our staffing levels currently don't allow for additions to services offered.‟
  25. 25. Reasons why institutions haven’t offered a service
  26. 26. What are the future plans for your library's service? Most institutions were either planning to continue the service or expand. • Those still in trial were often looking to evaluate the service before rolling out more widely. • No respondents were planning to remove or cut services.
  27. 27. Advice for others „Get your staff on board with a description of the benefits to them, and to the users. Don't promise too much at the beginning - better to offer fewer hours that you know you can fully staff, rather than more hours where the service becomes unreliable because of lack of staff.‟
  28. 28. „Go for it. It's been a fantastic service and opens up lots of new ways of helping students and opportunities for collaboration between librarians and between institutions. It's great for getting alongside students who don't come into libraries very often - distance learners, placement students, carers etc. Good for deaf students too!
  29. 29. Summary • A quarter of institutions currently have a service. • Most with services (77%) had offered a service for less than two years. • Over half had never offered a service but said that they are considering doing so. Still new to many libraries, and a lot of libraries considering this for the future.
  30. 30. 3.The Software
  31. 31. queuing remote hosting statistics mac compliance transcripts authentication
  32. 32. libraryh3lp
  33. 33. Free popular Free dedicated Commercial
  34. 34. Free popular Meebo Skype
  35. 35. Free dedicated
  36. 36. Commercial
  37. 37. Overview User Impressions Library Staff Impressions Pricing Technical Issues User Support Additional Considerations Hosting Options User Authentication/Anonymity Multiple staff logins Co-browsing Multi-platform/browsers Video/Audio Transcripts
  38. 38. Meebo
  39. 39. Free doesn‟t always mean bad… …commercial doesn‟t always mean good.
  40. 40. Most services require you to install something…
  41. 41. Some features sound great… …but don’t always work in a library world.
  42. 42. Software support is forthcoming… …either through the developer or through the community.
  43. 43. 4.Moving Forward
  44. 44. Matrix Roadmap Case Studies Final report
  45. 45. Questions, Comments, Suggestions