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Future of Digital Reference

Page history last edited by Stephen Francoeur 11 years, 2 months ago

Session Title: Future of Digital Reference

Session Facilitator: Stephen Francoeur

Session Time: 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Session Location: Room 120


Session Notes

Introductions - went all around the room. articulating your interests, what you want to talk about:

- Mining chats/IMs - what people are using, what works/doesn't work

- Sending digital images

-Text message/SMS reference

- Twitter reference

- Google Wave

- QuestionPoint 24/7

- DimDim

- Skype

- cost of minutes/talking


- Windows Messenger

-Chat reference in corporate/non-profit setting;  barriers, security, privacy

-What are the range of reference services?

-What are other people doing?

-What are the broad trends, any statistics on text reference?

-Virtual reference services? Which ones work for you?

- Not having enough staff to handle IM reference - what are the alternatives

-Experiences with Question Point, LibraryHelp and Docutek?

-Nitty gritty of implementing Chat reference? Managment issues?

- What types of problems are people encountering? Same problems? New ones?

- Non-profit usage

-What are others' experiences with e-mail references, how can we improve?

- Meebo

-Using AdobeConnect - how can we maximize its use in reference service?

-How does Virtual Reference fit in with the culture of the library?

Think of categorically about different forms of digital refefence: 

1) old technology:  email

2) late 90s - chat, large commercial software designed for customer interaction, librarians have easily archivable transcripts, Docutek, tutor.com, LivePerson - used to be more of them

3) SMS  Reference - text, librarians can reply using cell phone - Yale libraries - dedicated client - Twitter (not really designed for that kind of communication) (Yale, NYU)

4) SecondLife and other virtual reality worlds - going to be a while before they get good

Issues:  quality, marketing, experiences, cost effectiveness, problems, making digital reference equivalent to face to face

Is chat a stand-alone service or are you going to try to do it with other libraries?

Different styles of librarianship, even within same organization

How to get students to use tools that aren't their tools

Problem 1:  Not yet any success/case studies, or statistics suggesting success or failure.

Problem 2:  Librarians shy and scared of too much change


- Can be offered in a cooperative manner - a chance to cooperate/collaborate with other libraries.  In academic settings, it's also a chance to collaborate with faculty.

- Interactive - can send webpages to people

- Presented in library orientation, but students aren't using it - lack of student awareness, link missing, communication breakdown, lack of librarian-faculty cooperation

- Capability of eliminating redundancy - what do you do with trove of information you have - clunky system

- Can't find anything fast enough to be used in a reference transaction

- better option if you can't maintain IM on a regular basis - can make it so you're only on it for 3 hours a week


Advantage off digital reference:  you can get a transcript of your reference intereaction (i.e. from IM chats).  How can you use the information?  Should you retain it?  For how long?  Create a searchable knowledgebase?  What are others doing with transcripts?

Transcripts can be viewed to evaluate what makes a un/successful transaction


Meebo combined with surveymonkey - survey sent out to everyone who did IM reference as part of big assessment project

Can use reference transcripts to figure out the times most students are actually doing their research

At New York University, reference staff must also do instant messaging reference.  At meetings, refererence staff goes over transcripts and discusses trends, expectations, and ways to improve service.  Also:  NYU publicly posts selected reference transactions (in part for purposes of their own self-study):


Assessment can provide info regarding refinement of reference services, e.g. when it is offered.

Traditional survey tools can be onerus (click marks), whereas digital reference services can track service automatically (e.g. keeping number of transcripts). 

Some questions too complex for digital format, so reference can be used as an outreach tool to get people to get in

Why pick IM instead of chat or SMS or Twitter for medium for delivering reference services?

What is the diffferent between chat, IM, SMS, QuestionPoint?  All have different technologies, different functionalities.

Is it possible to offer a standardized way of these services to users?  Is it desirable?  To stay relevant, we need to be flexible, to adapt to different technologies.  We need to learn to be more nimble - it's the way the future is going to be.  (Standardization might be a barrier to flexibility.)  Our patrons are not standard.


Original draft of notes on EtherPad



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