Information Alliance Spring Meeting
Dale Hollow Lake, KY
May 7, 1999
Virtual Reference Discussion
-In General, What is Virtual Reference?
- Identify types of Virtual Reference
- Proxy/Paper Mail
- Examples: Internet Public Library (http://www.ipl.org). Volunteers to staff.
- About Eref
- Must identify were patrons are from/context of patrons query plus available resources
- Can increase work load. Virtual Reference can be labor intensive (planning, scheduling,
- Define formal services
- Who answers what questions?
- What policies & guidelines are required?
-Who's Doing What?
- UK's Agricultural Information Center "Ask Us"
- Handled by Reference Staff
- Answer all questions that come thru "Ask Us"
- Some research, not all
- Aim for 2 day maximum turn-around
- Past or Repeat Queries? Not really. 500 unique questions
- UK William T. Young Library. Reference & Information Services (http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/ris.html)
- Combines telephone & email reference into one regularly scheduled and
staffed service point.
- No phone @ public desk.
- UK Observation of Opportunity: Patrons use of AOL's Instant Messenger
- AOL's Instant Messenger, an Internet Chat application, comes bundled with Netscape Communicator
and is automatically installed on library PCs.
- Some patrons use. Could build upon this patron awareness & offer interactive reference services.
- UT's current services. "E-mail Reference" (http://www.lib.utk.edu/refs/ers.html)
- Asynchronous. Not interactive.
- Reference volunteers answer UT affiliates questions. Refer others to appropriate local public
libraries or IPL.
- Save questions and answers in the E-mail Reference E-mail account. No FAQ.
- Staffed with a schedule separate and distinct from the desk schedule.
- UT's experimental services. "Interactive Reference"
- Synchronous. Real-time interaction between Librarian and Patron.
- Working group from UT is exploring interactive reference via CourseInfo
(course web site management package; http://itc.utk.edu/itc/tools/courseinfo/)
using chat rooms to communicate with local & distance education users.
- Gayle Baker, chair of the Interactive Reference Working Group distributed copies of the group's
- VU's "Request for Reference Assistance" (http://www.library.vanderbilt.edu/request/reference.html)
- Email Reference for VU faculty, students & staff.
- VU's BIS: Business Information Service from the Walker Management Library
- Fee-based service for anyone.
- Reference, Databases Searching, Document Delivery, etc.
-The Future? Video Reference
Discussion centered on the proposal to investigate uses of interactive video reference for
after-hours services. This could be a demonstration grant project proposed to Internet 2.
- Idea: Test concept of remote interactive video reference in kiosk or remote settings. Use to provide reference services during the hours that service desks are not staffed. Alliance libraries could share in the project as one central video reference point could would serve all three institutions.
- Discussions/Ideas for Colaboration
- What is the level of need during late night hours? At UT, the hours 12 midnight to 7am account for 2% of database usage.
- UK Medical Library does have a 24/7 patron demand and could be a test site.
- What is gained by patrons seeing a librarian? It is important for librarians to see and control what's on the patron's computer screen. That would be useful.
- How can one person serve 3 institutions and their respective collections? Resources among institutions are not equal (e.g. databases, licensing, local collections/expertise).
- Is Reference something that can & should be instantaneous? Process takes time & must take into account pressures at the reference desk.
- Perhaps such streaming can be used within an institution or across campus and used when
libraries are their busiest, not just late at night.
- Project could link librarians across institutions.
- Project could link dorms & computer labs to libraries.
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