Definition Why virtual reference? Virtual reference @ the UW Staff attributes Advantages/Benefits Challenges/Pitfalls Overview of QuestionPoint Best Practices Activity
Use of digital technologies by both user and library staff to interact on and respond to an information inquiry Includes email, web forms, instant messaging (IM), and chat Digital and Virtual used interchangeably
Our users are online --Pew Internet ReportsPew Internet Reports --Assessment studies (Libraries & UW Tech) Our resources and services are online Provides options for users --anytime, anywhere service --unable to come on campus --Library anxiety! --Convenience (even when on campus) --Facilitates communication
Public research university 42,974 students 27,600 faculty and staff Three campus locations: Seattle (main); Tacoma; Bothell (library shared by Cascadia CC) 17 colleges and schools, including medicine and law
Ref email 1992 247ref. org chat 2002 Unit email 1988+ Question list Transcripts list Info email 1992 Question list
Webform & chat -- all units OCLC QuestionPoint Software
Email services offered since the late 1980s Implemented 24/7ref chat in collaboration with Cornell University in January 2002 Beta site for OCLCs QuestionPoint, 2002 Continued with 24/7 ref chat software until merger with QuestionPoint in mid 2005 Joined the QuestionPoint 24/7 chat cooperative in September 2005 Participate in the Washington State Academic Cooperative
Passion for providing reference & information services Skills & abilities Good instincts Knowledge Commitment to learning & growth Enthusiasm Team player/Trust Ability to multitask
Serves users anytime, anyplace Preferred medium for those not in region (studying abroad, online students) Serves users with physical or language challenges Questions can easily be moved from chat to email, to subject experts or partner libraries All virtual questions appear in a single list Questions received at desks or via phone can be added to system Many minds enhance quality of response: the power of us Economical: we share resources through collaboration
Reference transaction documentation Encourages collaboration Encourages sharing of knowledge & expertise Challenging questions Learn from colleagues Develops creativity Hones communication skills Great starting point for students
Staff buy-in (the they must come to the library syndrome) Resistance to collaboration Only we can answer questions for our users Online communication environment Question negotiation: determining the real information need Learning how to manage user expectations FEAR of failure & out of comfort zone
Use QuestionPoint to manage all questions All Libraries webpages link to the same chat or email form Questions are answered, assigned, or referred as appropriate Staff are trained on followup options Links to virtual assistance
You move virtual help links front & center on your web page You place persistent links on every secondary web page You add Qwidget – a simple Meebo-style IM box Your users are offered multiple options for assistance You respond to questions 24/7 You seamlessly move the question, not the person ?
Thank you SO MUCH. Chatting to you is like a multiple course asian meal. More good service just keep coming :-) ok Nancy...you are a genius :-) OMG thank you. YOU must be a total smarty. This is a lot of brain working and investigating WOW, not only a great service but follow up! Im impressed – if I can provide the level of service that you do my enterprise will be a real success, thank you. Yes, I would very much appreciate your forwarding my request to Olympia. Thank you again for your hard work and thoroughness.
What constitutes best practices in virtual reference?