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Webinar 16 April 2008 Smiling Online: Applying face-to-face reference skills in a virtual environment Presented by Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D. Senior.

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Presentation on theme: "Webinar 16 April 2008 Smiling Online: Applying face-to-face reference skills in a virtual environment Presented by Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D. Senior."— Presentation transcript:

1 Webinar 16 April 2008 Smiling Online: Applying face-to-face reference skills in a virtual environment Presented by Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist OCLC Research Marie L. Radford, Ph.D. Associate Professor Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

2 Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services from User, Non-User, and Librarian Perspectives Why people use – or choose not to use – VRS Ways to encourage non-users to try VRS How to communicate with users of different age groups How to boost accuracy and satisfaction with your VRS How to handle impolite and impatient users

3 Four project phases: I.8 Focus group interviews II.850 QuestionPoint chat transcripts analyzed III.Online surveys 176 VRS librarians 184 VRS non-users 137 VRS users IV.283 telephone interviews Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services from User, Non-User, and Librarian Perspectives

4 Libraries M eet the information needs of differing groups Largest groups Baby boomers ( ) Cohort #1 (Born 1946 – 1954) Cohort #2 (Born 1955 – 1964) Millennials (1979 – 1994) Screenagers (Born )

5 Who Are They? Baby Boomers Cohort #1 Born Experimental Individualists Free spirited Social cause oriented Cohort #2 Born Less optimistic Distrust of government General cynicism

6 Who Are They? Millennials Millennials / NextGens / EchoBoomers / Gen Y Born – 80 Million Generational divide year olds By 2010 will outnumber Baby Boomers

7 Screenagers Youngest members of “Millennial Generation” Term coined in 1996 by Rushkoff Used here for year olds Affinity for electronic communication

8 How to Communicate with Users of Different Age Groups VRS Transcript Analysis

9 Facilitators – Differences Millennials (n=296) vs. Adults (n=76) Millennials demonstrated these behaviors less often than Adults On average (per transcript) Thanks Self Disclosure Closing Ritual On average (per occurrence) Seeking reassurance Polite expressions

10 Facilitators – Differences Millennials (n=296) vs. Adults (n=76) Lower averages (per transcript) Thanks 59% (175) vs. 75% (57) Self Disclosure 42% (125) vs. 63% (48) Closing Ritual 38% (111) vs. 50% (38) Lower averages (per occurrence) Seeking reassurance 56% (166) vs. 68% (52) Polite expressions 30% (90) vs. 33% (25)

11 Facilitators – Differences Millennials (n=296) vs. Adults (n=76) Millennials demonstrated these behaviors more often than Adults On average (per occurrence) Agree to suggestion Lower case Greeting Ritual Admit lack knowledge Interjections/Hedges Slang

12 Barriers – Differences Millennials (n=296) vs. Adults (n=76) Millennials demonstrated these behaviors more often than Adults On average (per transcript) Abrupt Endings Impatience Rude or Insulting

13 Why People Use – OR Choose Not to Use – VRS VRS Online Survey Analysis

14 VRS User Demographics Online Surveys (n=137) Majority Respondents Female Caucasian years old Suburban public libraries

15 VRS Users Reasons for Choosing VRS (n=137) Convenience, convenience, convenience Immediate answers Lack of cost Available 24/7 Important to Screenagers Efficiency Enjoy medium Millennials find much more enjoyment Lack of intimidation

16 Quotes from VRS Users Convenience “Absolutely. It is convenient and always helpful, even more helpful than going physically to the library. And you are on your own computer with all of your information. It is especially helpful when taking an online course because the lessons are online.“ (User online survey Millennial: 45143) Enjoy “The chat reference librarian was personable, and the experience was easy and fun. Not only that, she found items I didn't think to ask for, and put those items on "hold" for me at my local public library. How convenient!” (User online survey Adult: 36087)

17 VRS Users Other Generational Differences Millennials More “desperate” needs for quick answers Multi-tasking Screenagers Greater connection to the librarian Opportunity for dialogue Elimination of geographic boundaries Less intimidating than the reference desk Librarian’s reactions more clear Easier to express thanks to a librarian

18 Quotes from VRS Users Quick “The chat format was helpful because it allowed me to get quick, easy answers.” (User online survey Screenager: 77045) Multitask “Yes, if only for the convienence and ability to multi-task.” (User online survey Millennial: 98115) Greater connection to librarian “Yes, because I was able to chat like I do to a regular friend and she understood what I was saying.” (User online survey Screenager: 49365)

19 Quotes from VRS Users Less intimidating than the reference desk “it is easier to engage in live chat [than] approach a librarian face to face.” (User online survey Millennial: 64280) Elimination of geographic boundaries It was easier then driving in my car to a library and I could stay focised on my work. (User online survey Screenager: 10977)

20 VRS Non-User Demographics Online Surveys (n=184) Majority Respondents Female Caucasian years old Suburban and urban public libraries

21 VRS Non-Users Why they Choose Among Modes Convenience, convenience, convenience Working from home At night or on weekends Millennials especially value convenience

22 VRS Non-Users Why they Choose Among Modes Qualities of the individual librarian Knowledge (FtF) Trustworthy sources (FtF) Persistence (FtF & telephone) Friendliness (FtF & telephone) Perception that librarian is too busy More prevalent with Boomers

23 Reasons for Non-use of VRS Boomers & Millennials Do not know Service availability Librarian can help 24/7 availability Satisfied with other information sources Boomer concerns Their own Computer literacy Typing speed Complexity of chat environment

24 Quote from VRS Non-User Reason for non-use Boomer’s own computer literacy “I most likly will not use this service. Computers were not taught in High School when I gratuated in 1972, I have only had a computer and used since 2005, I have never used a chat room or service.” (Non-user online survey Boomer: 61939)

25 Important to both VRS Users & Non-Users Librarian Qualities Knowledge of sources & systems Positive attitude Good communication skills Accuracy of answers/information

26 One Simple Way to Boost Accuracy For ready reference queries, answer specific question asked! Before you push a general info. page… Make sure it has specific & exact answer to user’s question

27 Other Simple Ways to Boost Accuracy For all types of queries Clarify the question! Use a follow-up question! E.g., “Did this completely answer your question?”

28 Multiple Demands on the Library Traditional Library Environment Baby Boomer Preferences Millennial Preferences Logical, linear learning Multi-tasking Largely text based Visual, audio, multi- media Learn from the expert Figure it out for myself Requires PatienceWant it now MetasearchFull text ComplexitySimplicity

29 Implications for Practice Communication critically important! Difficult process Generational differences add to complexity! Need user education for more realistic expectations

30 Avoiding Impatient or Rude Behavior Greetings – crucial moment Chance to establish personal relationship & trust Use self-disclosure to build rapport Recognize that any user may be impatient at times Question complex? Tell them “this may take some time” & ask if they can wait Don’t force instruction

31 Encountering Rude or Impatient Behavior? Do Use common sense & intuition Remain polite Apologize as appropriate Don’t Take it personally Mirror rudeness Reprimand user

32 Encouraging Non-users to Try VRS Creative marketing Promote full range of reference options Reassure young people that chat is safe Build positive relationships 1 person at a time, whether FtF, phone, or online

33 In Conclusion Use your basic interpersonal skills Chat & FtF – very similar interactions And, most importantly… Relax about time pressure Be yourself & show your smile :)

34 Additional Resources Boomer Nation: The Largest and Richest Generation Ever and how it Changed America, S. Gillon. New York: Free Press, College Student Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources, OCLC, Dublin: OH, 2005 Generations: The History of America’s Future, , N. Strauss & W. Howe. New York: Morrow, Generations at Work, S. Luck. enerations.ppt enerations.ppt Growing Up Digital, D. Tapscott. Millennial Behaviors and Demographics. Sweeney,R. folders/sweeney/Millennials/Article-Millennial-Behaviors.dochttp://library1.njit.edu/staff- folders/sweeney/Millennials/Article-Millennial-Behaviors.doc Millennial Net Values: Disconnects between Libraries and the Information Age Mindset, R. Mcdonald & C. Thomas. Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation, W. Howe & N. Strauss. New York: Random House, 2000.

35 Additional Resources Net Generation Students and Libraries, J. Lippincott. In Educating the Net Generation, Educause Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources, OCLC Dublin: OH, Playing the Future: How Kids’ Culture Can Teach Us to Thrive in an Age of Chaos, D. Rushkoff. New York: HarperCollins, Sense-making the Information Confluence: The Hows and the Whys of College and University User Satisficing of Information Needs, Brenda Dervin, Ohio State University, Principal Investigator; Lynn Silipigni Connaway and Chandra Prabha, Co-Investigators. Institute for Museums and Library Services Research Grant, “Screenagers” and Live Chat Reference: Living Up to the Promise, M.L. Radford & L.S. Connaway. (February, 2007). Scan, 26(6), Studying Students: The Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester, N. Foster & S. Gibbons. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2007.

36 End Notes This is one of the outcomes from the project Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services from User, Non-User, and Librarian Perspectives Funded by IMLS, Rutgers University, & OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Special thanks to Jocelyn DeAngelis Williams, Patrick Confer, Timothy J. Dickey, Julie Strange, Susanna Sabolcsi-Boros, Mary Anne Reilly, Jannica Heinstrom, and Andrea Simzak. This presentation is available at project web site:

37 Questions & Comments Lynn Silipigni Connaway Marie L. Radford


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