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March 14, 2009 ACRL Conference Seattle, WA I would sort of appreciate a little more understanding: Engaging Net Gen Students in Virtual Reference Marie.

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Presentation on theme: "March 14, 2009 ACRL Conference Seattle, WA I would sort of appreciate a little more understanding: Engaging Net Gen Students in Virtual Reference Marie."— Presentation transcript:

1 March 14, 2009 ACRL Conference Seattle, WA I would sort of appreciate a little more understanding: Engaging Net Gen Students in Virtual Reference Marie L. Radford, Ph.D. Associate Professor Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist OCLC Research

2 Academic Libraries Today Vying for information seekers attention Must re-engineer to accommodate users workflows and habits

3 The Net Generation Born between 1979 and 1994 Also known as: Millennials EchoBoomers Gen Y Live in a socially networked environment Different communication & information-seeking behaviors

4 Screenagers Youngest of the Net Generation Born between 1988 and 1994 Now years old Affinity for technology Expect instant access

5 IMLS funded project to provide insight into the Net Gens perceptions of libraries and VRS Four phases: Focus group interviews Analysis of 850 QuestionPoint live chat transcripts Online surveys – 496 Total 175 VRS librarians 184 VRS non-users 137 VRS users Telephone interviews Total 100 VRS librarians 107 VRS non-users 76 VRS users Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services from User, Non-User, and Librarian Perspectives

6 Online Surveys Descriptive statistical analysis Demographic Multiple-choice Likert-type Qualitative analysis Open-ended 2 critical incident (CI) questions

7 VRS User Demographics (N=137) Net Gen (N=49) Female (51%, 25) Between years old (47%, 23) Caucasian (67%, 33) Adult, 29+ (N=88) Female (68%, 60) Between years old (38%, 33) Caucasian (84%, 74)

8 User Demographics Adult (N=88) High School Graduates to PhD Majority college degree or higher (83%, 73) Used chat >1x Overwhelmingly Yes (99%, 87)

9 Chat Least Intimidating to VRS Users Net Gens (N=49) Adults (N=88)

10 VRS Users Likely to be Repeat Users Net Gens (N=49) Adults (N=88)

11 Recommendation Important to VRS Users Net Gens (N=49) Used VRS because recommended Recommended VRS more than adults

12 What Attracts Users to VRS Users (N=137) Convenience, Convenience, Convenience Available 24/7 Working from home At night or on weekends Immediate answers Lack of cost Efficient Less intimidating interactions

13 VRS Users Quotes Efficiency Yes, definitely. I already told the librarians I spoke with that I would recommend this service to anyone. It was so easy to use and very helpful. It was brief enough to answer my questions efficiently and not waste my time. I don't really want to have personal chats with librarians over the chat reference service. I really just wanted to ask my question and get an answer and that is exactly what my experience was. It was great! (UOS-30287) Net Gen The chat helped me since it was an efficient use of my time. I was able to continue working online while chatting. (UOS-65381) Adult Cost Effectiveness Yes - it's free, and convenient. The librarians are available till late at night, and they're very productive. The negative experience I described is the only one I've had, and I must have used the over 30 times. It's an easy way to get a better understand your subject and get positive answers from a trained specialist - what more could a student ask for? :-) (UOS-39497) Net Gen Yes, quick and convenient. Cost-effective. Most libraries provide free access but parking can be expensive in the city where major libraries are located, not to mention that the closest major library to me is 60 miles away. (UOS-80908) Adult

14 Why Users Dont Always Choose VRS Net Gens (N=49) Unhelpful answers Non-subject specialists Slow connections Scripted messages Cold environment

15 What Would Attract Users to VRS Net Gens (N=49) Faster & easier software Personalized interface Reliable co-browsing More service hours Kiosk & cybercafe access Experienced, tech-savvy librarians

16 VRS Non-user Demographics (N=184) Net Gen (N=122) Female (66%, 81) years old (51%, 62) Caucasian (65%, 79) Adult, 29+ (N=62) Female (71%, 44) years old (31%, 19) Caucasian (87%, 52)

17 FtF is Preferred by VRS Non-users Net Gens (N=122) Adults (N=62) Adults (81%, 50) Net Gens (71%, 87)

18 FtF is Preferred by VRS Non-users Net Gens (N=122) I most enjoy using

19 is Less Intimidating to VRS Non-users Net Gens (N=122) I am least intimidated by

20 Telephone Reference Never Used by VRS Non-users Net Gens (N=122) Adults (N=62) Net Gens (78%, 95) Adults (60%, 27)

21 Convenience Is Important to VRS Non-Users Net Gens (N=87) Adults (N=51) Net Gens (87%, 76) Adults (78%, 40)

22 Remote Access is Important to VRS Non-users Net Gens (N=41) Adults (N=13) Net Gens (95%, 39) Adults (85%, 13)

23 Interpersonal Communication is Valued by VRS Non-Users Net Gens (N=86) Adults (N=51) Non-users Valued Personal Relationship Adults (43%, 22) Net Gens (24%, 24) Specific Librarian Adults (51%, 26) Net Gens (42%, 36)

24 Interpersonal Communication is Valued by VRS Non-Users Net Gens (N=41) Adults (N=14)

25 Net Gen Quote About Friendly Librarian I have once asked a librarian to point me to sources on a particular topic and the librarian personally went and pulled numerous books off the shelf…The librarian took time out of her day to help me, and actually did more than I expected. I asked for sources, and she went and retrieved the books for me…A smile and gernerally being happy prompts others to do the same. While being nice the the librarian and visa versa, this helped the general situation. The same could not be achieved in chat or text messaging. (NOS-87254) Age

26 Net Gen Quote About Unfriendly Librarian It was awhile ago, but I asked the reference librarian where to find books relating to a certain topic I was studying in school at the time and she just kind of said "over there" and pointed…She did not seem engaged or interested in truly helping me find the books and didn't really care that I never found them, I was wondering all over looking and she just sat there…No I think it was more the person I was dealing with, I doubt she would have been any more helpful in another format and I don't care if she would have been great at texting etc. because at the time, I was there looking for books and just wanted to know specifically where they were located. She did not seem interested in helping me, let alone exhaust all of her means for doing so. Ever since then, I usually avoid that person and go to the one who has helped me successfully. (NOS-69073) Age 19-28

27 Why Non-Users Do Not Choose VRS Net Gens (N=122) Adults (N=62) VR too complicated Adults (53%, 33) Net Gens (35%, 43) Typing skills poor Adults (35%, 22) Net Gens (16%, 19)

28 Why Non-Users Do Not Choose VRS Net Gens (N=122) Adults (N=62) Believe questions might annoy librarian Net Gens (29%, 32) Adults (16%, 10)

29 Why Non-Users Do Not Choose VRS Net Gens (N=122) Dont know it is available Believe librarian couldnt help Lack of 24/7 service Satisfied w/ other info sources

30 Net Gen Non-Users Quotes Lack of service availability at all hours After hours help. If the library is closed and takes 24+ hours to respond, I would try a chat if there is an available librarian on after closing hours. (NOS-87254) Net Gen I would be convinced if it were offered 24/7. This makes it acccessible all the time. That's convenient. (NOS-39998) Net Gen If it is available 24/7 I'll try it. (NOS-84519) Net Gen

31 Why Non-Users Do Not Choose VRS Adults (N=62) Same as Net-Gen: Dont know it is available Believe librarian couldnt help Lack of 24/7 service Satisfied w/ other info sources But also: Lack computer skills Type slowly Complexity of chat environment

32 Adult Non-Users Quotes Beliefs that the librarian could not help them I do not see myself using chat reference services because in the absence of having a reference librarian help me locate an appropriate or required source, I have friends in the LIS discipline with exemplary reference/research skills who could help me. Additionally, because I am in research, I have cultivated my own knowledge base of where/how to track down information. The only time I could ever imagine using chat reference is if I were incapacitated or unable to physically be in a library or if I were unable to reach aone of my LIS colleagues. Otherwise, I see myself as a self-sufficient resarcher who relies on her own social network and knowledge to locate reference material. (NOS-91666) Adult I have only used a reference librarian once, as I enjoy doing my own research. I am as likely to use chat or as an in-person service. I don't have an issue with the format; I just don't see a need or value-added to using a reference library service in most searches. I have been able to find what I need relatively efficiently on my own in acceptable timeframes. (NOS-22870) Adult Satisfaction with other information sources I don"t know how to access computer library service. When I need to look somthing up I use google. (NOS-61939) Adult

33 Relational Theory and Interpersonal Communication Every message has dual dimensions -- both content and relational (Watzlawick, Beavin, & Jackson, 1967)

34 Dual Dimensions Content Information The what of the message Information exchange Relational Interpersonal How the message is to be taken Relationship between participants

35 Critical Incident Technique (CIT) Flanagan (1954) Qualitative technique Focuses on most memorable event/experience Allows categories or themes to emerge rather than be imposed

36 CIT VRS Users Questions Remember 1 specific successful VRS interaction Remember 1 specific unsuccessful VRS interaction Describe each interaction Identify factors that made interactions successful or unsuccessful

37 VRS User Positive CIs Net Gens (N=48) Successful Experience Librarian Accurate answers/info Quick assistance Located specific resources Convenient

38 VRS User Negative CIs Net Gens (N=30) Unsuccessful Experience Librarian Impeded info delivery or retrieval Didnt answer question

39 Critical Incidents Non-users Questions All VRS Non-Users were asked to Think about one experience in which you felt you achieved (or did not achieve) a positive result after seeking library reference services in any format. Think about one experience in which you felt you did not achieve a positive result after seeking library reference services in any format. Describe each interaction Identify the factors that made these interactions positive or negative

40 VRS Non-user Positive CIs Net Gens (N=108) Successful Experience Librarian Info delivery/retrieval Answered questions Located specific resources Positive attitude (them & task)

41 VRS Non-user Negative CIs Net Gens (N=74) Unsuccessful Experience Librarian Impeded information delivery or retrieval Missing resources Slow providing answers Negative attitude to task

42 What We Learned FtF & VRS Users want Extended hours of service Access to electronic information Interact w/ friendly librarians Relationships with librarians

43 What We Can Do Encourage library use Creative marketing Promote full range of options Reassure young people VRS safe Build positive relationships whether FtF, phone, or online

44 What We Can Do Understand them to serve them better Enjoy their enthusiasm!

45 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. Slides available at project web site:

46 References Connaway, L. S., Radford M. L., Dickey, T. J., Williams, J. D., & Confer, P. (2008). Sense-making and synchronicity: Information-seeking behaviors of millennials and baby boomers. Libri, 58(2), Flanagan, J. C. (1954). The critical incident technique. Psychological Bulletin, 5, Prabha, C., Connaway, L. S., Olszewski, L., & Jenkins, L. R. (2007). What is enough? Satisficing information needs. Journal of Documentation, 63(1), Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1, 3-6.

47 References Radford, M. L., & Connaway, L. S. (2007). Screenagers and live chat reference: Living up to the promise. Scan, 26(1), Rushkoff, D. (1996). Playing the future: How kids culture can teach us to thrive in an age of chaos. NY: HaperCollins. Sweeney, R. (2006). Millennial behaviors and demographics. Retrieved March 18, 2009, from folders/sweeney/Millennials/Article-Millennial-Behaviors.doc. Watzlawick, P., Beavin, J. & Jackson, D.D. (1967). Pragmatics of human communication. NY: Norton.

48 March 14, 2009 ACRL Conference Seattle, WA Questions & Comments Lynn Silipigni Connaway


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