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Getting in Synch with Screenagers: Virtual Reference and Sustaining the Relevance of Libraries Lynn Silipigni Connaway Marie L. Radford Independent Reference.

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Presentation on theme: "Getting in Synch with Screenagers: Virtual Reference and Sustaining the Relevance of Libraries Lynn Silipigni Connaway Marie L. Radford Independent Reference."— Presentation transcript:

1 Getting in Synch with Screenagers: Virtual Reference and Sustaining the Relevance of Libraries Lynn Silipigni Connaway Marie L. Radford Independent Reference Publishers Group ALA Annual Conference Washington, DC June 22, 2007

2 Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services from User, Non-User, & Librarian Perspectives Funded by Institute of Museum & Library Services Rutgers University & OCLC (10/05-9/07) Four phases: I.Focus group interviews II.Analysis of 850 QuestionPoint live chat transcripts III.600 online surveys IV.300 telephone interviews

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

4 The Millennial Generation Born 1979 – 1994 AKA Net Generation, Generation Y, Digital Generation, or Echo Boomers year olds About 75 million people By 2010 will outnumber Baby Boomers (born )

5 The Millennial Generation May be most studied generation in history 4x amount of toys than Boomer parents 20 yrs. earlier Born digital, most can not remember life without computers Confident, hopeful, goal-oriented, civic- minded, tech savvy Younger members most likely to display Millennial characteristics

6 The Millennial Mind (Sweeney, 2006) Preferences & Characteristics More Choices & Selectivity Experiential & Exploratory Learners Flexibility & Convenience Personalization & Customization Impatient Less Attention to Spelling, Grammar Practical, Results Oriented Multi-taskers & Collaborators

7 Screenager Focus Group Interviews Location 13 (39%) Urban 12 (36%) Suburban 8 (24%) Rural Gender 15 (45%) Male 18 (55%) Female Age Range 12 – 18 years old Total = 30 Participants in 3 groups Ethnicity 21 (64%) Caucasian 6 (18%) African- American 6 (18%) Hispanic/Latino Grade Level 31 (94%) HS 2 (6%) JHS (Grade 7)

8 Focus Group Interviews: Major Themes Hold Librarian Stereotypes Prefer Independent Information Seeking Google Web surfing Prefer Face-to-Face Interaction

9 Focus Group Interviews: Major Themes Have Privacy/Security Concerns Librarians as psycho killers ? Fear of cyber stalkers Factors Influencing Future VRS Use Recommendation of trusted librarian or friend Marketing Choice of librarian

10 Phase II: Transcript Analysis Random sample 7/04 to 11/06 (18 months) 479,673 QuestionPoint sessions total Avg. 33/mo. = 600 total, 492 examined so far 431 usable transcripts Excluding system tests & tech problems 191 of these highlighted today 65 identified as screenagers 126 identified as primary/college/adult

11 Interpersonal Communication Analysis Relational Facilitators Interpersonal aspects of the chat conversation that have a positive impact on the librarian-client interaction and that enhance communication. Relational Barriers Interpersonal aspects of the chat conversation that have a negative impact on the librarian-client interaction and that impede communication.

12 Transcript Example - Positive Battle of the Somme Question Type: Subject search Subject Type: History of Europe (940) Duration: 26 minutes User Location: England Librarian Location: Hawaii

13 Transcript Example - Negative Mental Illness Question Type: Ready reference Subject Type: Medicine & health (610) Duration: 11 minutes User Location: Australia Librarian Location: Australia

14 Facilitators – Differences Screenagers (n=65) vs. Others (n=126) Higher numbers/averages (per occurrence) Polite expressions 51 (78%) vs. 40 (32%) Alternate spellings 33 (51%) vs. 19 (15%) Punctuation/repeat 23 (35%) vs. 28 (22%) Lower case 19 (29%) vs. 24 (19%) Slang 9 (14%) vs. 3 (02%) Enthusiasm 8 (12%) vs. 9 (07%) Self-correction 7 (11%) vs. 6 (05%) Alpha-numeric shortcuts 3 (05%) vs. 0 (n=191 transcripts)

15 Facilitators – Differences Screenagers (n=65) vs. Others (n=126) Lower numbers/averages (per occurrence) Thanks 72 (110%) vs. 163 (130%) Self Disclosure 41 (63%) vs. 120 (95%) Seeking reassurance 39 (6%) vs. 87 (7%) Agree to suggestion 39 (6%) vs. 93 (74%) Closing Ritual 25 (38%) vs. 69 (55%) Admit lack knowledge 10 (15%) vs. 30 (24%) (n=191 transcripts)

16 Barriers – Differences Screenagers (n=65) vs. Others (n=126) Higher numbers/avg. (per transcript) for: Abrupt Endings 26 (4%) vs. 37 (29%) Impatience 6 (9%) vs. 2 (2%) Rude or Insulting 2 (3%) vs. 0 (n=191 transcripts)

17 Librarian Perspective Recent telephone interviews with librarians indicate excitement regarding the ability to reach users not normally served by more traditional reference services

18 Implications for VRS Providers VRS is a natural for screenagers (especially live chat reference) Recommend/market VRS services Reassure that VRS is safe Encourage their enthusiasm Mentor and learn from them Try new social software applications Introduce new reference sources Facilitate access to online reference sources

19 Future Directions Continue to collect & analyze data Online surveys Librarian survey completed Non-user and User surveys in progress Telephone interviews 100 with Librarians completed 100 Users in progress 100 Non-users in progress

20 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, Susanna Sabolsci-Boros, Patrick Confer, Julie Strange, Mary Anne Reilly, Vickie Kozo, David Dragos & Timothy Dickey. Slides available at project web site:

21 Questions & Comments Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D. Marie L. Radford, Ph.D.


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