April 30, 2008

Drupal at Stanford University

Stanford University uses Drupal. Take a look.

February 4, 2008

RRC news moving to the Libraries staff wiki

In an effort to reduce information overload, the Reinventing Reference Collaborative is hereby retiring the RRC Blog in favor of consolidating all RRC information in one place. That place is the staff wiki. You can find all RRC information there at https://wiki.lib.umn.edu/AP/ReinventingReference

Thank you for visiting us!

November 14, 2007

Questions and Answers about DeskTracker

We began putting DeskTracker in use across the libraries last week. We've apparently taken to it quite enthusiastically, because the performance seems to be slowing down. We've contacted the vendor and they're working on it. In the meantime, since we've been hearing many of the same questions when introducing DeskTracker to staff, we thought we'd address them here.

Couple of things to keep in mind:

1. The definition of reference may be a bit different than that which we've previously defined. If there is any kind of bibliographic aspect to the question and the question can't be answered purely by recourse to floor plans, phone directories and similar, then it's reference. See RUSA's page for details.

2. We're collecting more information than before and there's a workflow change as a result.


1. We get as much out of it as we put in, so the more, the better. PLEASE DON'T GUESS PATRON TYPE. If you don't know the answer, leave it blank.

2. We are trying to describe what we do within the framework of the ARL definitions, so when things aren't a perfect fit, use your judgment to best describe what you do.

Questions and Answers:

The questions and answers have been moved to the new Desk Tracker FAQ

August 1, 2007

Library Assembly Poster Session

The RRC will be presenting a poster at the Library Assembly that will describe our charge and what we've been working on so far. We will have a demo of the kind of reference statistics tool we'd like to use in the Libraries, along with our proposed set of data elements. We'll have a notebook available for you to share any comments you might wish to share. See you there!

July 6, 2007

Investigating tools

As noted in our last post, the collaborative has been poring over reports from service points around the Libraries and acquainting ourselves with the minutiae of ARL guidelines as we try to come up with a data collection scheme that can be used system-wide. Our list is nearly complete, and will be shared with AP staff very soon. We hope you'll give us feedback, and let us know if there's anything we've overlooked.

With our "data elements" work wrapping up, we've turned our attention to the system we'll use to collect these data. Our last post noted a few features we had in mind as we envisioned an ideal system. This week we looked at three specific systems to see how they stacked up. They were:

LibStats is a system developed at the University of Wisconsin. It has the advantage of being highly flexible, open-source, and above all, free. Our initial assessment of this system is that it could be quite a good fit provided we could put sufficient technical and staff resources into the initial setup and customization, and if concerns about security expressed by some other libraries can be addressed.

Desk Tracker by Compendium is currently in use or in the works at several CIC libraries. The system appears to be reasonably priced, and the collaborative will be spending some time with a trial version in the coming weeks.

DeskStats/RefTracker by Altarama appears to be more than we need at the moment, and is priced accordingly. Their DeskStats application provides functionality similar to the other options above, but appears to be best suited to an installation integrated with RefTracker, Altarama's reference desk ticket system.

We haven't made any decisions yet, and welcome your input. If you're able, take a moment to look at the tools mentioned here and let us know what you think. Or, if there's a product we've missed, please bring it to our attention with a comment here. Our goal is to create a system that will simplify the aggregation and reporting of reference statistics without adding work for desk staff.

June 27, 2007


Over the last couple of weeks, the RRC has been collecting information about how reference statistics are gathered and maintained around the UL system. Members of the collaborative have talked with librarians from nearly all reference service points, and with their help, have pulled together an inventory of the many different logs used to record reference exchanges. After completing this scan, the RRC has recognized the need for a system of collecting consistent data across the Libraries. Along side such a system would be a simple set of guidelines to standardize, for example, a “reference� question versus a “directional� question.

At our meeting on June 20th we talked almost exclusively about the “data elements� we should, or would like, to collect that will allow us to 1) report to ARL, and, 2) evaluate our reference service. Reporting to ARL requires very little data collection—noting the occurrence of a reference question, and distinguishing reference from directional questions. Such data also do not provide any evaluation of reference service, other than to track major trends.

In order to truly investigate the value of reference service, including its quality, its success with patrons, and its cost-effectiveness, we need more data about reference activities. Some of these data will result from a users’ needs analysis, which the RRC will conduct. And some should come from more in-depth and consistent capture of the nature of the reference questions patrons are asking, the status and affiliation of our patrons, what referrals are made, etc.

So our challenge, at this point, is to ask: what kind of tool we can design to collect data about our reference service in a standardized and effective method? And, what data elements shall we collect? Shall we collect them all the time? Shall we require collection of these data elements by all service points?

This conversation will be on-going, but here are a few concepts that have emerged in our discussion:

1. The system should be web-based, so it can be accessed from anywhere.

2. The system should be simple. It would, ideally, be designed to have many elements pre-populated on a screen, so as not to impose an undue recording burden.

3. There should be some basic data elements required, such as date, service point, reference or directional question, duration of exchange.

4. The system should be flexible. There should be the optional ability to collect more than the basic elements, allowing each unit to collect any kind of unique information they want to collect. These more complete data elements might become required elements several times throughout the year for sampling purposes.

We welcome comments via this blog. Please add information or suggestions!

June 13, 2007

LibGuides, a web 2.0 library knowledge sharing system

LibGuides widgets can be placed on a web page or blog, and are used to put library guides at the point of need.

(From the "Springshare" website, http://www.springshare.com/libguides/index.html

"LibGuides is a web 2.0 library knowledge sharing system.

Think of it as social networks meets wikis meets bookmarks meets blogs. LibGuides helps librarians share knowledge and information, while highlighting and promoting the library resources and services to the community.

How Does It Work?
LibGuides is a system for publishing information and creating social networks centered around the library resources. Librarians create Guides (we use the word loosely - it can be any content, on any topic, for any purpose) and then publish them online. The Guides contain documents, links, podcasts, rss feeds, videos, etc. Users can participate in interactive polls and rate the links and resources.

The system supports tagging of content. The homepage displays the tag cloud listing the most popular tags, and the most recent content published. LibGuides delivers relevant information to patrons, while encouraging them to browse the library resources via tags and subject keywords. LibGuides helps you share knowledge and build relationships with your customers. And it makes you look good in the process.

LibGuides is also available from facebook®, enabling your users to access the library content, chat with reference librarians, and even search the catalog, all from their facebook homepage. The system is fully customizable, enabling you to offer a cutting-edge web 2.0 tool with your library brand on it."

May 25, 2007


Welcome to the Reinventing Reference Collaborative News blog!

This blog is intended to serve to keep you updated on news of the recently formed Reinventing Reference Collaborative. For background information and documents, visit the Collaborative's wiki page, linked on the right sidebar of this blog.

It will also serve as a repository of information on technology trends relevant to reference work. To that end, we're including some information about having blog updates delivered directly to you. Click on "Continue Reading" to learn more about various ways to get blog updates:

Continue reading "Welcome!" »