Expert decides whether or not they can answer the question. Expert responds with the answer. User receives an e-mail telling them their answer (or other response) is available. User may leave feedback for the expert.
AskA… Services Benefits Questions answered by subject experts Anonymous from the user perspective Disadvantages No clear definition of who is an expert Time lag up to several days Little ability for reference interview
E-mail-based Reference Patron sends an e-mail with a question to the reference department of the library. Dedicated staff member or team monitors the accounts inbox for new questions. Librarian finds the answer and sends an e-mail back to the patron.
E-mail-based Reference Examples Humboldt State University (CA) library.humboldt.edu/infoservices/emailref.htm library.humboldt.edu/infoservices/emailref.htm Fairfax County Public Library (VA) www.co.fairfax.va.us/library/asklib.htm www.co.fairfax.va.us/library/asklib.htm New York State Library www.nysl.nysed.gov/refserv.htm www.nysl.nysed.gov/refserv.htm Directory of E-Mail Reference Sites alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/~b-sloan/e-mail.html alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/~b-sloan/e-mail.html
E-mail-based Reference Benefits Patron does not need to come into the library. Librarians can take more time to answer a question since the user is not on hold. Disadvantages Turn around time is usually around 24- hours unless there is a dedicated librarian. Asynchronous communication not conducive to the reference Interview.
Chat-based Reference Live Patron accesses the librarys chat service with their Web browser Librarian greets the patron and patron asks their question Reference interview performed as needed
Chat-based Reference Patron is put on virtual hold Librarian finds the answer and types it back to the patron Patron disconnects from the chat system
Chat-based Reference Examples KnowItNow (Cleveland Public Library) www.cpl.org/vrd/vrd.asp www.cpl.org/vrd/vrd.asp 24/7 Reference www.247ref.org www.247ref.org Live Librarian www.suffolk.lib.ny.us/snl www.suffolk.lib.ny.us/snl University of PA Biomedical Reference refchat.library.upenn.edu/refchat-biomed.html refchat.library.upenn.edu/refchat-biomed.html
Chat-based Reference Benefits Just-in-time online reference Disadvantages Patron may need additional technology to access (plug-in) Connection speed an issue Current software lacks archiving and searching functions
The Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS) Sponsored by OCLC and LOC Library to library reference service www.loc.gov/cdrs
CDRS Library registers for the service and fills out a profile Contact information Subject areas Times available Asking library posts a question to the system
Benefits International Public libraries share their knowledge (local) with academic libraries (research) Every question sent through the system to date has been successfully answered
CDRS Disadvantages Usually a minimum of a 24-hour turn around time Archive (KnowledgeBase) not yet available Not yet open to the general public
Effects of these Services AskA services are popular with the public but are not viewed as serious competition to the library world. So far, most libraries have reported that the library-to-patron services have had a minimal impact. CDRS is still in the early stages but participants have had significant success.