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July 31, 2007

collabortive Virtual Reference Symposium : Session III

Should Virtual Reference Software Work? (A panel of vr software vendors)
Panelists: Susan McGlamery & Jeff Penka, OCLC QuestionPoint : Angela Pfeil & Sean Zinsley, Tutor.com

Facilitator: James Duncan, Colorado State Library

-looking at the disconnect between wants and needs
-what goes in to creating this technology

4 topics:
-authoring, programming, development
-supporting these products - real world demands
-forecasting, research, future developments - what's on the horizon
-pricing - what is involved in establishing a pricing model for your product

What did it take for your company to reach today's point in product software
Tutor: we purchased it from existing company, we saw a problem with reliability
-we wanted to take the existing product and put it on a new platform to make it more stable - took one yr, next yr tweak from customer info/complaints/wants

-number 1 goal to keep stability, keeping people connected and keep vr platform live

QP: 2 yrs ago 24/7 ref and qp came together, 24/7 ref coop initially used different software products
-QP represents 2 things, technology/platform & 24/7 coop
-how do we extend support at a local, national, international level
-looking at tools for adaptation
-reference management system - evolution #1
-combining 24/7 coop and qp
-building tools for coop, we're our own software development - not a lot of vendors out there that fits that so we do it ourselves

What kinds of real world skills do you bring to this field?
Tutor: you have to hire people who know what it's like
-we have tech savvy people in our support roles, good w people in understanding those needs
-there is a high burn out rate, keeping staff that understand your needs can be difficult
-it costs a lot of money to have all the servers and disc space and staff
-technology gets out of date fast - need to upgrade servers on a regular basis
-as we get more customers the problems/demands increase
-nature of the product - want multibrowser/multiplatform software... lot's of questions/requests

QP: we benefit from having the oclc structure to tie into
-training, implementation, are things you think about - points of scale - have to adapt depending on how you're approaching things
-administrative activity
-community management, community engagement, cooperative
-the coop is the way we provide 24/7 service - we have @ 1200 libraries, statewides, regional groups and individual libraries
-energize our participating libraries
-managing the 24/7 back up librarians - @60 in all different time zones
-engaging the wider community in promoting vr

forecasting/research - what's in the horizon? How do you balance needs of today?
QP: the libraries that are currently using the product - QP user counsil - also have 24/7 ref coop advisory board
-meet the users at the point of need (mandate)
-where are our users now? - how can we serve their needs
-when we work w the users' council - watch things like sustainability, work on end user experience
-trying things out - one of the trends we're trying to do is "public preview" but make it scalable
-look at benefits and feasibility such as IM integration - working w outside vendors like AOL
-context - ref brings context - meaning to discovery - how do we make that piece happen
-point of need and set up - we're trying to build qp that allows you to do those kinds of things like advertise in myspace, youtube...
-cobrowse - what its role

Tutor: we watch the same trends
-I'm a product manage for our product and I'm a librarian, we're encouraged to participate in all the listservs, watching all the same things
-at tutor functions fall to different people
-we want to have a stable platform to build on - ease of use features don't mean as much as stability
-make sure clients are aware of upcoming changes
-it's important in developing software as it is as developing collections, we follow the same type of procedures of gathering info from our clients

Pricing - what is involved in establishing or refining pricing for your system or software product?
Tutor: out general pricing policy is to look at size of your patron pool
-estimate how much it will cost to serve that audience, to provide that service
-this isn't a business that's going to make you rich
-contract renewals, depends on how the service was used - need to find a balance for what being used and what you're paying for

QP: we look at trends for adoption
-we're confident now we have a pricing model we're going to keep in the next few years
-the pricing model is preventing collaboration
-there's a priced for the tools, and a price for participating
-our goal is to go after large states and the global arena
-we have regional partners, pricing models that have to adapt by regional

forgive me, this is where my laptop battery decided to end, notes went on paper at this point and I can barely read my own writing...

Questions from the Audience:
Q: Is IM the enemy?
T: No, it doesn't do everything we want it to do:
-no file share
-no scheduling
-doesn't allow multiple logins
-making bots & customizations only work for specific versions, have to update constantly

Q: IM is outpacing VR 3:1
T: you can not discount current software/companies for fads
-trend to drop VR for IM is that where we should be putting concentration? - it's a preference
-it comes down to $$ - eventually we'll have to pay for it in one way, shape or form

QP: everything in QP or Tutor was because someone needed it - you're trying to get that stuff in there
-co-browse has been redefined based on libraries needs
-if you're doing what you need to w/o us then we've done out job
-privacy and storage or transcripts - where is IM with these
-no transfers, no reports
-balancing act of needs

Q: Please detail the what extent your product is ADA compliant
T: we haven't done anything - we run it through screen readers, use 3 rd party
-but not there yet

QP: ADA compliant - InfoEyes - we worked w them to find out what is needed - what does usable & accessible look like?
-we're building a "universally" accessible interface for blind and everyone else

Q:Links to Ask A Librarian services in WorldCat.org, what does this entail?
QP: open to any library that subscribes to OCLC
-don't have to subscrive to QP
-can have Tutor or Docutek or email or just a contact web page linked there
-it's based on particular libraries not a specific service

Q: Do you offer pricing based on function? only email, only chat...
T: our pricing model based on staffing/service not by feature

QP: we tried tier differences but we've simplified things now - standardized
-complexity increases cost

Q: What kind of software training do you offer, how, is it priced differently?
T: I (Angela Pfiel) do all training based off of Buff Hirko's book
-part of 1st yr pricing cost/implementation
-documentation kept online and accessible to all clients
-they also do train-the-trainer
-after 1st yr they could do something special but encourage to go to online docs.

QP: part of 1st yr. implementation
-contact person, to make sure things are going smoothly
-can do in-person training, self-paced materials, train-the-trainer, coop. training
-quarterly updates

Q: Do you see VoIP in near future?
QP: did it, passed it, may come back to it
-it's not on our road map in the next 12 mos. but we'll keep watching it

T: no, we don't see a huge push for it - not on our near horizon
-need to bring in 3rd party - it would be 2 yrs out at least

Q: We're still shaping VR - What is the possible relationship between one librarian w multiple patrons and visa versa?
T: we do one-to-one communications
-we're in the business of connecting one patron to one librarian - that's what we do

QP: our current referral system kind of meets that
-we are looking at expanding that - we do have the ability to have multi-librarians to collaborate on one question but it is cumbersome
-not looking at one librarian to multiple patrons
-we do have e-learning environments in webjunction but can't fold it back into a transcript

Q: Interoperability of services between vendors
QP & T: haven't looked at it in the last couple of yrs.

Q: Is cobrowsing only important to academic libraries??
T: there's no standard definition of co-browsing
-in my experience it seems more important in academic area

QP: in our coop we found co-browsing very important in utilizing other libraries' pages
-co-browsing is poblematic
-I don't know if it's more important in academic but they like to show partons where resources are located

T: I agree w Susan (QP) - libraries like to describe what patrons need - it's important for us to ask our patrons if they need it
-why keep trying to put $$ into it if patrons don't want it?

QP: at ALA in the discussion group - most talked about thing was "fix co-browse"!
-it's valuable but how valuable?

Q: How do your products work w PDA's and mobile devices?
T: it's @ 10-20 mos. out
-it's definitely something we're interested in

QP: we do already have deployment through chat2 - next generation chat
-it's in our immediate work we're doing

collabortive Virtual Reference Symposium : Session II

Funding and Sustainability: Managing Growth and Building Collaborations that Last

James Duncan, Peter Bromberg & Beth Cackowski, Michele Pye

Session Facilitator: Vince Mariner

James Duncan – Money is Only Part of the Answer: Virtual Reference at the Crossroads

VR Growth & Sustainability
3 factors
-warm bodies
-belief in vr

Factor 1 – accepting vr as part of our future
What is working/not working with vr – should we even be doing vr?
-that’s what’s being asked – we’re a small portion of the library world
-we don’t have critical mass – we’re seen as offering fringe services – ex. ILL is considered a core service it would not be thought of to talk about dropping it
Environments & Tools
E: desk, reference area, stacks, classrooms
T: databases, print sources, subject specialists
-with vr it’s muddy and meshed
E & T: IM, search engines, hidden/deeper web, vendor products, databases, google answers, subject knowledge,referrals, second life, yahoo answers
-this is a new arena and new way of communicating – we should be seizing on this opportunity

Factor 2 - creating demand, then finding enough librarians to serve
-try to provide the best service possible
-getting librarian directors/managers to see this a viable service point
-this is our future

Factor 3 – money this year, but what about next year?
-look at 3 yrs out, 5 yrs out – federal $ won’t cut it
-soft $ won’t do it
-need to identify other sources

AskColorado – how they are dealing with these 3 factors
where does askcolorado fit in – “live help” link on site
-80% of traffic coming through the site is handled by Colorado libs.
-use of that “live help” link has been skyrocketing – more agencies are using the site, more eyeballs seeing the link
-18% of overall usage is from Colorado.gov
-askcolorado is showing the usage, they are in a position of leverage and power, need to start paying their fair share

Potential strategies for sustainability
-identifying alternative funding sources and partnerships
-the only way to get alternative funding is by proving value – we’ve got to get into whole coop mindset that they are all of our patrons – anyone coming in to askcolorado is their patron – no distinctions

-understanding our target markets
-who are the audience members – market research – develop strategies to reach into those target markets – then campaign – bookmarks are not a one size fits all for market strategy, bookmarks are pr – find out “are bookmarks really reaching the kinds of people we’re trying to reach?”

-evangelizing for vr
-better exposure, better articulation of potential partners about the value of the service – we need to be getting in the face of our users – place our links everywhere

that’s where we start getting to the goal of making our service ubiquitous
why are we not pushing out our service where our students/patrons live?
Clear that path between the librarian and patron – we make users jump through hoops to get to us – we need to simplify that

Peter Bromberg & Beth Cackowski – What’s keeping us energized for the NEXT five years?
-handouts and presentation at http://www.qandanj.org/colorado

overview of service
sustainability – appreciate/energize
managing growth – innovate
demonstrating value

Overview of QandANJ
-live since 2001
-funded by lsta grant for 6th straight yr
-@300 trained libs. – 203 staff the service
-managers at each site
-fte project coordinator
-part of qp coop
-9am – 11pm staffed by nj libs everyday
-standard is 6 hrs/week commitment
-this is a volunteer service – don’t expect all libs. To show up on time all the time – sustainability of libs. Is hugs – they don’t employ the libs. – need to keep them motivated

3 point approach to motivate: appreciate, energize, innovate

-balloon bouquets – balloons have QandANJ logo on them
-briefcase bags – “I’m a virtual librarian at…. QandANJ” - libs. Love these
-ribbons on their badges
-hats as 5 yr anniversary gift
-tshirts w ad – given to the freelancers, not all libs
-share customer comments – on their listserv “Midweek warm and fuzzies”
-freelancers – 14 paid libs. Throughout NJ
-opportunities to present
-recognition plaques – promoted on staff website
-grant money for reference – get @$1500 per library
-QandA libs. Get free pre-conferences, programs
-QandA libs get access to free databases specifically available to them

-group meetings held quarterly – talk, eat, share
-continually have new libraries coming on – new blood
-oclc sponsored users group meetings
-marketing – new posters/slogans – latest ad campaign borrowed from Oregon
-free marketing materials – pens, posters, bookmarks, balloons, stickers
-myspace page - @ a month old, @ 40 friends, going to do a “friend bomb” ad in august
-commercial to go on mtv in fall – specifically geared to teens – also putting on youtube – 30 sec. commercial cost $3000

-putting up barriers to use QandANJ – need library card/barcode # to use the service – limits to NJ only – had @40% of business out of state – just started this last year – before didn’t care, wanted anyone to use it, growth was happening – had to decrease supply or decrease demand
-link up with online service to get a library card – give out temp 2 week access code until library card showed up
-barrier, but acceptable barrier
-stats went down @ 50% when they put that up
-just launched geolocation authentication – identified via ip authentication so won’t be prompted for barcode if in NJ – 80% accuracy
-goal – manageable usage levels
-now they can start marketing again
-next spring launching a youtube contest – teens you do a youtube commercial, put it up on youtube, we’ll judge and put up on mtv

Demonstrating value – in handout – out of time to talk

Michele Pye – Built to Last from the Start
British Columbia – AskAway – still new

-built on successes of individual services
-strategic planning processes of public library services branch and BC electronic library network
-formed a committee, created the service in parrellel with all participating libraries
-launched w/in one yr of initial planning

-launched in Oct 2006
-Service 2 queues – public lib and post-secondary (academic)
-staffing – 2 types
-funding – 2 ministries
-users – 5 target markets
-open 7 days/week – 70+ hrs

-share funding for resources
-pl side –got funding for $1 mil for 3 yrs
-hired a pro. Marketing consultant
-5 target markets – academic, teens, public, seniors, business
-giveaways – bookmarks, magnets, post-it notes

How do we collaborate?
-software negotiation, licensing, marketing

-academic – 6900 sessions
-pl – 29000 sessions
-reaching 1 in every 25 learners at both pl and academic

-leverage the local relationship
-be strategic – looked at doing both chat and email – too messy, focused on chat and then will look at email in next phase of growth
-build org. continuity
-extend collab. – between public and academic, chose things that were the same, now looking at differences, combining services into one (queue)
-share successes – need to tie leveraging local relationships to leg. “look what I did”
-transform communication –selling the concept to giving people info about continuing the service – show return on investment
-begin a continous improvement process
-start planning for year 4 now
-mash-ups bs build ups – put banner ad on board of trade website, other sites – what can we do on youtube – what can we do on whatevers next

Questions from audience:
Q: Geolocation – how much did it cost, is it like worldcat?
A: we use quova, set up fee @$13,000, different product from worldcat, a little more expensive, unlike worldcat we don’t have to do programming on our part

Q: are any of the services facing end of grant funding and looking at fees?
A: for BC AskAway on the academic side they may need to look at that, pl side is funded

Audience: private enterprises, we in Ontario, may turn to looking at getting funding from private sources, not sure you can do that in the US

Audience: in California – we are losing LSTA funding for the vr service next year, looking at many different options for funding, not just public funding

Audience: in Illinois, there’s a huge gap on service funding – how are we going to distribute costs fairly – looking at fee based for statewide

Collabortive Virtual Reference Symposium : Session I

Side by Side Comparison of Collaborative VR Services
Presenters: Vince Mariner, Diana Sachs-Silveira, Caleb Tucker-Raymond

Diana Sachs-Silveria - Survey results from State of VR:
Survey posted on VR lists
-35 respondents from 29 services
-large multitypes, then academic, then public

-most are doing chat & email, a lot of doing just chat only and a few are doing collab.
-oclc’s qp = 21
-tutor.com = 3
-other = 4

-22 are not limited in the number of librarians that can staff at anytime
-2 are limited by their contract
-2 are limitied by their software provider
-other collab. Resources w/in collab. Services – most using databases
-most using English for language

Years in service
-4 under 1 yr
-5 1-2 yrs
-2 at 3 yrs
-12 at 4+ yrs

only 10 of the collabs. Covered email

stats – fluctuated because of different variables
stats will be posted online

growth in 2007 – most looking to growing, not go down or die
usage – when busiest – weekdays in the afternoons vs mornings or weekends
demographics – college level highest use in both academic and public arena

Vince Mariner – Soaring to New Heights
Led 2 statewide services under 2 different software types

Participation defined
-participants can be defined differently
-a participant is a library that contributes:
-funds and/or staff time
-just funds and/or staff time
-neither funds nor staff time but are allowed to utilize link/logo on their site for users
-in PA they encourage any library to link to the service

Participation by Library Type
-public – almost 70%
-academic – 35%
-school –almost 10%

Academic Coops
-avg. size 24 libraries per coop
Multitype Coops
A lot more based on different pop served #

PA doesn’t use school libs to promote the service but they get a lot of students

Library Funding Contribution
-48% indicated that participating libs. Contribute funds

-funding models
-varies based on fte or pop
-flat partic. Fee
-no fee (Typ. Lsta funded)
-askcolorado subscription model

Staff Contribution per week
-6.3 hrs per wk avg per lib
-minimum hrs per wk
-most vary based on variety of factors

found the more libs in a coop, the less hrs contrib. – for academic
found the larger pop size served the more hrs contrib.. – for public

Why are we here?
-who or what prompted your org. to host a collab. Vr service?
-state agency or org
-need for online service/outreach
-grassroots movement
-saving money through collab.

what is your mission/goal?
-reference, reach all residents/students, provide chat, share service, advance mission of institution, remote sercie/point of need,

some of the missions are what they’re doing not why – maybe board needs to hear this

who’s running the coop?
-regional cooperative (mostly) – run by institutions that are already use to collaborating
-a lot of don’t knows (whole budget) – a lot of $100,000+

-software makes up the bulk
-coordinating staff and marketing
-24/7 backup

-most often provided by vendor
-multitypes also provide training – coordinated by vr group
-each library responsible
-found best to have centralized

-fliers through local libraries
-web sites
-dozens of ways, but no one way to do it

-ask patrons
-random sampling of questions/transcripts for quality
-lsta outcomes logic model
-peer review of librarians

-23 different themes
-funding, growth, software, usage, instant messaging, staffing, support, teenagers, training, change, collaboration, coordinator, marketing, morale, academic library participation, bureaucracy, user expectations, urban/rural divide

-growth, launch, marketing, participation, usage, support, partnerships, aooperation, electronic resources,

-twice as many challenges as there are successes

IM isn’t as big as he thought it would be as a challenge

Understanding the context of the question (wanting) to be asked
-understand the user’s goals

move the question, not the user(patron)

expand the link to the vr service
-promote service to the ftf patron via service hours listed on the door
-findability, ubiquity
-“think the library is closed? Think again”

even if libs. Can’t devote staff time, still talk to them about the service, let them play with the software and encourage them to put the link on their site

Collabortive Virtual Reference Symposium : Joe Janes, Keynote Speaker

Welcome from:
Kris Johnson – Colorado State VR Service
Eugene Hainer – Director, Colorado State Library

Joe Janes – Keynote speaker (get link)
“Why Collaborate?”
point of branch public libraries is that they’re w/in walking distance of wherever you are, they’re so important they’re everywhere.
The main branch, the new Seattle pl is grandiose, shows it’s importance
Grand reading room at UWash, statement that they’re “holy” places
Reference desk, picture of one in 1905, looks very similar to today

What is reference?
Readers need great deal of assistance
Direct personal aid w/in a library – Margaret Hutchins

Where reference has been
Green(1876) we do reference because there’s too much stuff and it’s hard to find
Help w database searching, be pleasant, don’t talk about legal medical advise

Reference is in transition
As the information environment changes
-continually evolving techologgies, aloowing/fostering increased self-investigation
-constrained $, competitive and volatile information marketplace (publisher and consumer)
-increased focus on privacy and intellectual freedom
-perceptions of libraries and librarians, increasing marginalization
-changes society
-more people doing more searches on their own – huge win for us
-information marketplace is considerably more competitive and volitive
-you have fewer people owning more and more and then there are all this free stuff, have to stay on top of it all
-our biggest enemy is indifference

-you can do better searching today than 10 years ago. Prior to that you had to physically stand up and move to the information. Now it’s at your laptop

-this is the information environment we are living in and reference has to live in this as well

what we are best at
our traditional strengths
-service orientation – we’re really good at helping people understand what they need
-determining needs & understanding context
-multiple modes of searching

-evaluation of resources
-when to stop
-education about the process – even when they don’t care
-tool-making - pathfinders
go with, build on these, in the library that is now

what is reference for?
A better question
The circumstances which gave rise to it (in the old days – 1890’s-ish)
-increased number, variety of information resources
-increase in complexity of those resources – the concept of a library catalog is becoming more complex
-it’s harder to find information w/in those resources – difficult to identify the resources you need and then the info w/in them
-increase in number & diversity of people using libraries – wider range of needs, enquireies, sophistication in searching

what is reference for? (ca 1935)
a new technology that widens access to the library
telephone – raised lots of issues/Qs
-important v less important questions, people
-centralized or dispersed?
-dedicated information resources?
-different levels of service

Collaboration: the old days
“one great library” (ALA: Eliot 1902, Gould 1909) largely around collections, scarce books, regional/national libraries
-why don’t we have one large library that everyone can draw one
-efficient and economic, but also…. – this was their argument
-more stuff to more people
-combination & organization are “watchwords of the day” & we can’t be left behind
-supplement, not replace, local libraries – fear that anything above the local level will overtake us
-open stacks were bad service model – people will browse and might find the wrong info

Wyer (1930) quote –“…it may be better if books traveled less and people traveled more…”
-regarding records & catalogs but also service
-services like this provide training and vision opportunities

1940s Wilson Bulletin had a feature on “Fugitives” – Qs submitted and answered by readers
-expanded into cooperative project by the Peabody Library School (Nashville PL) where students answered Qs to gain experience and to help smaller libraries
-weakness: emphasis on very unusual questions and not enough on questions which….

Margaret Hutchins (1944) “it is frequently the custom” to exchange reference services in larger cities
-asking for help from another library is a delicate matter requiring tact – ask a favor, not a right
- should the inquirer or librarian ask the “new” library for help?
-isolated or ongoing project?
-can inquirer write an intelligible letter?
-does the library budget permit correspondence?
-is therea relationship between the libraries?
-she’s already thinking in a prelim. Way how these services can be developed

Old arguments for collaboration
-efficiency and economy first, last and foremost – we are better off together
-vision– this opens up the notion what library service is, what it’s for
-training & education
-quality (but only obliquely, implicitly) – didn’t really come up
how do these arguments hold up today?
Efficiency, training kind of a given
Vision – you can not do this and not get the vision, we are all better of together, we get this
Speed, clarity, quality
– collaboration has got to make it better – collaborative value
-can speed be part of that equation? – collaboration in any flavor implies time, regardless of mode (email, phone, chat, FTF)
-implies that the pressure of time will always be there
-implies that people have to wait, maybe 5-10 mins. Or maybe several days – people have to be willing to endure it – unless we acknowledge and build on that willingness as a focus
-one way collaboration will buy you time is if you focus on needs and inquirers – possible focal point for collab. Service
can collab. Services help with clarity? – collaborative value
“improving the question” - how can a caollaborative service per se do that, without appearing redundant, feckless or frustrating?
-who does the interview and how does it move forward?
-how do we improve clarity in a collab. Environment w/out looking/sounding like idiots? – don’t know, need to figure this out
Quality – collab. Value
-chance to show off our collective resources, yes, to provide higher quality responses…but also a chance to show off our skills, can only do that with deeper, more meaningful Qs
-show off how good you are – can only do this w deep, meaningful Qs
-deep, meaningful, hard

Collabortive value – today
-contemporary collab. Services also get us ubiquity of time and place
-increased service, yes
-bus also increased vision of what a service is and can be, both for them and for us
-when you provide a 24/7 service, you are explicitly making the argument that your library is a big deal, whenever, wherever you are – powerful statement
-vision argument both for them and us
-everytime someone says “I didn’t know a library could do that” we get bigger, and it grows in their minds, and we will stay in their minds
-ubiquity is a vision argument, and what ubiquity represents and it’s a reflection of the information environment
-that’s the info environment of today
-the more ubiquitous of the service the bigger the argument

any collab. Service has to be better, save time, foster better questions and provide better resonses
-has to provide a better experience for them and for us

we do such a great job in person…
-we have to do a better job online – service we provide online has got to be better than in person
-when someone engages w us digitally it is so much easier for them to leave, so the level of service we provide has to be across the board superior – and collab. Services have to be better

Thus a collab. Service (online) has to be one of the very best services a library offers – if you offer a crappy service they will go away and never come back

Margaret Hutchins – reference saves the money of individuals, save the time of busy people and ensures possession of facts which by themselves they could not obtain – 1944
-we can provide service to people that they can not have any other way

Quality, vision, clarity, ubiquity – this is why we collaborate
Betsy Wilson – “Vision is a rutter for change”

Q: a lot of research shows online questions to be ready reference
A: definition of ready reference, ready ref will always be w us, I can’t imagine that’s the point, if we were going to pick a niche to focus on that wouldn’t be it, let’s pick a niche that we can shine, things that matter to people

Collabortive Virtual Reference Symposium

I'm in Denver for the Collaborative Virtual Reference Library. The link isn't working for us here at the hotel in Denver, but hopefully it's working for you outside the hotel.
There was a full day of discussions, presentations, and panelist groups. I hope in my blogging attempts here that I've been able to capture as much of the activity and focus as possible. The write ups for each session turned out to be fairly long so I'll post them one by one...

July 30, 2007

Development and Future of Digital Tools



This 8-minute video developed by the Museum of Media History charts the development of digital tools and news up to 2015.

July 26, 2007

Professional Development Through Learning Communities

Take a look at the below article on Learning Communities.  Try to think how your institution and MINITEX is fostering learning communities amongst library staff. 


July 25, 2007

Reference Services Offers On-Site ELM Training

In case you didnt' know, MINITEX Reference Services offers on-site ELM training in your library or media center.  We are more than happy to come to you to train staff on the wonderful resources in ELM.  We will try to customize the training to fit your needs as much as possible.  We offer training from informative ELM overviews to longer, more in-depth, hands-on sessions.  We can focus on one specific ELM resource, or cover them all (with adequate time allowed).  If you are interested in setting up ELM training in your area, contact Beth Staats at fried004@umn.edu or 1-800-462-5348 or 1-612-624-7873. 

July 24, 2007

First Publication of Journal of Web Librarianship

The first issue of Journal of Web Librarianship has been published by Haworth Press. Check out a FREE sample copy by selecting "Free Sample Print Copy" from the right-hand column via the link above. You can also get an RSS feed for the journal's TOC.

Also freely available are the journal's first two podcasts, interviews with Joe Janes and Jody Condit Fagan, hosted by Deanna Christina Sukkar, on the journal's homepage, http://www.lib.jmu.edu/org/jwl/

And, to stay up to date with latest news about JWL, visit the Editorial Blog, at http://jweblib.livejournal.com/

Check it out!

July 23, 2007

The Future of the California Statewide Cooperative Digital Reference Service

Librarian in Black blogger, Sarah Houghton-Jan, recently posted an article on the future for California libraries' statewide chat reference. She states that although the state is currently offering this service free to CA residents, it is completely dependent on state and grant funding outside of regular budget lines for it's survival. Each year funding for the service has been less and less. Last year and this coming year there has been enough funding to keep the service up and running but there has not been enough to maintain a coordinator to administer the service.

There has been A LOT of discussion about this on the DigRef listserv. Some of the points highly in the discussion string are how to libraries firm up funding for their newly added services/projects? How do you transition from a grant fund base to having your service incorporated in the permanent budget structure? Also, it's important to set (achievable) goals for your library so that you have something to fall back on when you have to defend your service and also something to tout when you want to promote your successful service. What and who will define these goals?

I think the most important thing when you are trying to transition a project or service from temporary funding to permanent funding is that you have successful measureable goals that prove your service or project have/can make an inpact in your community. Also, it is important that the ones that administer the service or project be actively involved in creating those goals because otherwise, those goals will be created by individuals that are not involved in the project or service and may not know or understand the mission of that service or project. They could create goals that are not in scope with the project/service or its intended outcomes.

It will be interesting to see how California structures their AskNow statewide digital reference service to receive enough funding to keep it going.

Search engine website

A participant in today's MORE webinar series discussed the following website.  The site breaks down search engines and resources depending on if the patron needs to refine their topic, find quality results, research a specific discipline, etc.  It is a great resource for the K-12 educators and beyond.  Noodle Tools Information Need: http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/5locate/adviceengine.html

July 20, 2007

Gale PowerSearch Cutover

Gale has been sending out updates regarding their NEW PowerSearch interface and cutover the past few weeks. As part of the national migration date to the PowerSearch interface scheduled for Tuesday, July 17 at 8pm (EST), four Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM) resources will be migrated from the old interface to the new PowerSearch interface on July 17:
·        Discovering Collection
·        Junior Reference Collection
·        Professional Collection
·        ¡Informe!
These four databases will be moved to the new interface automatically.
The following two ELM resources will not be moved to the new interface on July 17: InfoTrac Junior Edition and InfoTrac Student Edition. Kids InfoBits will also retain its graphic interface; so, it will not be migrated to the new interface. MINITEX will be working with Gale and our Minnesota school media centers and libraries over the next few months for Gale PowerSearch options of InfoTrac Junior Edition and InfoTrac Student Edition. Watch ELM and MINITEX listservs for future news.
Exciting new interface. Great new features.
So, what's driving the new delivery platform? A super-powered search engine called Gale PowerSearch™ that features innovative cross-searching capabilities! Users can access all the Thomson Gale content in your library's collection by exploring one, several, or all available databases simultaneously.
Have questions? A guided tour, handouts, and more information are available at http://www.gale.com/Technical/index.htm 
Keep your eye out for training sessions available this fall through MINITEX. 
PowerSearch is just in time to start the school year with a fresh look! 

ELM Renewal

MINITEX Library Information Network and Minnesota Department of Education’s State Library Services, our state library agency, are pleased to announce that we have elected to exercise our option to renew the following resources available to Minnesota residents through ELM: Electronic Library for Minnesota:  EBSCO Publishing’s suite of general and scholarly databases aimed primarily at academic, public, and government library users; Gale’s K-12 and Spanish-language electronic resources; OCLC’s WorldCat; and ProQuest’s Newsstand Complete for two additional years (July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2009).   In addition, we had indicated to the Minnesota higher education committees our desire to add a health and science database to ELM in FY08 with additional funds. We probably will only be able to add one database with the existing additional funding and no final decision yet has been made.  
Resources currently available through ELM



 Academic Search Premier

Business Source Premier

Regional Business News

MasterFILE Premier





Kids InfoBits

InfoTrac Junior Edition

infoTrac Student Edition

Junior Reference Collection

Discovering Collection

Professional Collection






ProQuest Newsstand Complete


ELM is available online all the time from school, home, work, or @ your library.  Visit www.elm4you.org for access and more information.

July 17, 2007

The Open Library

You may have heard of the Open Library Project. It's an ambitious project with the intent of digitizing every book in existence. Now, obviously, there are issues with books in copyright. As they state on their website:

"The Open Library strives to make materials as openly available as is legally allowed... (They) will rely on Creative Commons licenses to encourage the greatest possible degree of access to and reuse of the materials, consistent with respect for the rights of content owners and contributors."

Currently they are in the process of digitizing out-of-copyright items with the help of such partners as Internet Archive, Johns Hopkins University Libraries, MSN Search, National Archives (United Kingdom), Research Libraries Group (RLG), Smithsonian Institution Libraries, University of California, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Yahoo!.

They just unveiled the demo site that gives you a sneak peek at the creation and future of this hefty projection called The Open Library. You can even take a guide tour to get a better feel for this ambitious site.

July 16, 2007

ACRL Online Seminar – Assessing Student Learning Outcomes

In April I had the opportunity to take a 3 week online seminar sponsored by ACRL on Instructional Assessment. The course was geared more towards instruction in an academic setting, however, I was able to use the points and resources talked about and have it relate to instruction with librarians. The course was divided into 3 sections, one for each week: planning for assessment; developing learning objectives; and developing a design for assessment.

In the first week we looked at an overview of the assessment process and began an assessment plan for an instructional course. We looked at instruments and methodology that would be used for our assessment plans. I found Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain, http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/cogsys/bloom.html, to be extremely useful for this piece.

In week two we looked at objectives for information literacy instruction and worked on developing learning objectives and learning outcomes that were part of the assessment plan. For week three we looked at developing assessment measures, choosing the right instrument, designing and using the instrument, how to analyze data, and how to evaluate results.

Throughout the process we met in groups each week to discuss how our assignments were going, any questions we had, and to talk about the readings and discuss how best the ideas and methodology might be used in different instructional settings. This online chat with the instructors and other participants helped to see what questions others had and how each week’s assignments were going. It also helped me stay on target with the readings and course objectives. This was the first ongoing online seminar I had taken and was pleasantly surprised at the structure and design for the online environment. I have started to use the information I learned from the seminar and well as the resources provided in helping design my webinars and in-person training sessions and workshops and found this assessment process to help stay on focus with the agenda and tasks I want people to walk away with. I would highly suggest taking a look at the online seminars available through ACRL’s E-Learning website: http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlproftools/elearning.htm.

July 12, 2007

Why We Need Librarians

I haven't seen this before and I don't think it's made the round of listservs (that I'm subscribed to). Plus it was posted during ALA conference so I'm just getting around to it now. So here is a post by David Weinberg in Everything is Miscellaneous about Why We Need Librarians. Very interesting post. He argues that we need both tagging and a systematic cataloging structure in our web 2.0 world. He is responding to a paper by Thomas Mann, Peloponnesian War and the Future of Reference, Cataloging,
and Scholarship in Research Libraries
. I just came across these and haven't delved into them yet but I thought I'd throw it out to you for your reading pleasure as well.
Let me know what you think.

MINITEX Reference Staff Participate as QuestionPoint Editors

MINITEX Reference Services staff, Beth Staats and Carla Steinberg Pfahl, have volunteered to be QuestionPoint editors of Global Knowledge Base records. There are a total of 25 editors nationwide working to edit an ongoing list of records of about 3000 question and answer pieces. These records need to be edited to delete out private information, extraneous information, and delete records that do not necessarily need to be in the Global Knowledge Base. Paula Rumbaugh from OCLC and Peter Armenti from Library of Congress were the only editors of the Global Knowledge Base but have realized that it has become a bit unwieldy and sent a message out for participation. The Global Knowledge Base is viewable by anyone and can be accessed via a library offering QuestionPoint Email and/or Chat reference. The Knowledge Base is also available to the public directly via OCLC from: http://questionpoint.org/crs/servlet/org.oclc.home.BuildPage?show=searchkb&language=1

July 11, 2007

Mobile Technologies and Reference Services

While at the ALA Annual Conference last month in D.C. I blogged about one of the sessions I attended, Libraries2Go: Library Services for Handhelds (see post below). It was really interesting to hear what the various libraries were up to and how they were adapting their service and website for mobile use for/with patrons. It seemed that U Cal - Merced has a good grasp of mobile technologies, how its being used by their students, and how they fit into this. Seeing that they do not have phones at the reference desk, only cell phones, it was a natural progression for them to adopt SMS text reference. They did give a convincing argument why libraries should seriously consider adding SMS text reference to their list of services. However, I couldn't help but think that this is a rapidly evolving area and what we see today for SMS text reference is going to look vastly different in a year from now. That shouldn't stop a library to persue the idea of adding this or testing it out. I've always been a fan of playing with new technologies. Those that do start working with this technology will be able to adapt the changing environment with ease. Mobile technologies are not going away. On the contrary, this is where the market is heading. It's all about what's in your pocket!

To this end, if you are interested in learning more about SMS text reference and mobile technologies in general, here are some helpful links to get you going in the right direction:
Can you TXT the LBRY? - Michael Stephens blog in ALA Tech Source about the Mississippi Library 2.0 Summit
Make Your Services Smarter: How Smartphones Can Extend Your Service and Let You Work Away From Your Office and the Reference Desk - a PALINET podcast
Ball State University Libraries Mobile Project
Mobile Phones as Mass Media - at bottom of page is a good selection of current books on the topic as well.
Text a Librarian - info page from Sims Library of Southeastern Louisiana University (great example of a SMS text reference service already up and running!)

July 9, 2007

Copyright in the Digital Age Video Available

MINITEX is pleased to announce that availability of the highly popular (based on numerous Reference Services blog comments and attendee discussions) ALA and NILRC teleconference, “Copyright in the Digital Age: An Update.”  
The video in VHS form may be checked out from MINITEX by completing the below electronic form, or contacting Betsy Swanson at bestys@umn.edu or 1-800-462-5348. 
Don’t miss out on this great professional development and enrichment opportunity!  

June Reference Notes

The June issue of MINITEX Reference Notes is up on the web and ready for viewing!  This month’s issue includes information on Information Literacy: Leading the Way to Life-Long Learning, Minnesota Digital Library 5th Annual Meeting, Research Libraries in the Age of Google, University of Minnesota Libraries Join Google Digitization Project and more!  


To link to the current or past issues go to http://www.minitex.umn.edu/publications/refnotes/.


Don’t miss out on this timely information!

July 6, 2007

American Libraries Celebrates 100 Years

American Libraries, the official magazine of the American Library Association, is celebrating its 100th birthday with a video entitled, "We've Been Everywhere."  The video was unveiled at this summer's ALA Conference in D.C. but you can check it out here.



2007 Turtle Derby

This year MINITEX Reference Services sponsored a turtle, Speedy Reference, in the 21st Annual Turtle Derby at the U of MN.  All money raised goes towards purchasing educational toys and games for the Children's Hospital, Fairview.  The day was full of dancing, turtle sundaes and cheering on numerous heats of turtles.  Sadly, Speedy Ref wasn't so speedy.  He did not place in his heat,so he did not win the title "Grandest Turtle of All."  All the turtles are from the metro area that have been hit by cars or boats and were rehabilitated on campus.  This was their last test before being released back into the wild. 

Speedy Reference Cheer team Speedy Reference Cheer Team (L-R: Mark Wilhelmi, Kristen Mastel, Sara Ring)

Speedy Reference and the competition Speedy Ref is the one with a purple handkerchief

For more information on this event, visit: http://www.uofmchildrenshospital.org/About/News/c_367193.asp

July 5, 2007

The Record Breaker


ALA Annual Conference 2007, Washington D.C. boasts a record breaker turnout of 28,635 people (21,466 registrants and 7,169 exhibitors). These numbers surpassed the previous ALA record of 27,962 people set in Chicago, 2005 and last year's annual conference in New Orleans at 16,964. With over 300 sessions and programs, topics ranged from Web 2.0 technologies and applications to new perspectives on information literacy to library promotion and fundraising ("It's Official: ALA Conference Is a Record Breaker," Library Journal: Academic Newswire, June 28, 2007).

Three noteworthy programs included a RUSA MARS Hot Topics Discussion Group Libraries2Go: Library Services for Handhelds, an ACRL Arts Section/Instruction Section program Eye to I: Visual Literacy Meets Information Literacy, and a Women's Studies Section program Once Upon a FURL in a Podcast Long Ago: Using New Technologies to Support Library Instruction.


Libraries2Go: Library Services for Handhelds included a panel of three: Bradley Faust, Ball State University; Markus Wust, North Carolina State University; and Michelle Jacobs, University of California, Merced. Whether or not today's students and library patrons are gaming, blogging, podcasting, or instant messaging to the degree that much of the media and national conference speakers claim, they are indeed mobile. At the 2007 Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, stated "The biggest growth areas are clearly going to be in the mobile space." "And the reason is people treat their mobile phones as extensions of their person," he said ("CEO Eric Schmidt Presents Google's Friendly Face at Web 2.0 Expo," InformationWeek, April 17, 2007). That's what made this particular program so timely and practical.

At Ball State University, mobile patrons can search the library catalog, check library hours and contacts, and browse for information on their various collections and services. North Carolina State University's MobiLIB carries seven distinct services for their mobile users. These services include a catalog search, a text-based version of the library computer availability display (i.e., where PCs, Macs or "Web only" computers are currently open for use), a campus directory search, library contact information, and links out to services such as search engines and campus busing. Both speakers discussed technical issues such as mobile screen sizes, language precision, and access keys for navigation.

Opening its doors in 2005, the University of California, Merced has moved quickly to offer new services to its mobile patrons such as text messaging reference. Some of the questions Jacobs has received via text messaging have been "What was the database we used in class today?" and "What are the hours?" Additionally, at this forward-thinking library all library staff use cell phones rather than desk phones so as not to be tied to the desk when fielding reference questions.

Some bits of advice that Jacobs offered the audience was to be sure to add text messaging to your cell phone plan (to avoid an outrageous bill), list hours this service will be staffed, and add scripts for frequently asked questions. UC-Merced library also has a YouTube video to advertize their service and demonstrate how their text messaging service works.


Eye to I: Visual Literacy Meets Information Literacy struck a chord with ALA attendees as it addressed a topic with which the library profession has been all abuzz, visual literacy. It was a joint venture between ACRL's Arts Section and Instruction Section. The panel included Cindy Cunningham, Director of Media Metadata and Cataloging, Corbis Corporation, Danuta Nitecki, Associate University Librarian, Yale University Library, and Loanne Snavely, Head of Instructional Programs, Penn State University Libraries.

The presenters discussed the overall concept of visual literacy, ownership and rights of image use, cataloging images for effective access, objectives for teaching visual literacy, and teaching strategies. They defined visual literacy as "the ability to communicate as well as recognize and understand ideas conveyed through images." Cunningham (Corbis Corp.) shared some of her insights regarding the cataloging of images for effective access. She made the point that images cannot be cataloged only once if we are to keep up with language trends. One way, however, to keep up with language trends without cataloging images over and over again is to incorporate "tagging" or what Cunningham refers to as "crowd sourcing." This allows users to supplement the cataloging work by attaching their own terms to the images. Cunningham also emphasized the importance of using not only literal but also conceptual terminology in cataloging images. Words are used to convey images but words mean so many different things to different people. Thus, the inclusion of "tagging" and the combination of literal and conceptual terms helps increase database access.

On the teaching/learning end of the discussion, Nitecki at Yale shared an assessment rubric for the use of visual images in the curriculum. The rubric looked at three separate foci of analysis: the depiction, depicted, and depicter. These foci of analysis then are applied to three levels of analysis: factual, interpretive, and evidential. This rubric makes a fine tool for assessing a student's learning.


And finally, Snavely wrapped up the panel with some tips when teaching using images.

  • Are there situations where an image is better than text to teach a certain point?
  • Use an image only when it is appropriate and relevant to what you are saying while you teach.
  • Think about how words are images.
  • Help navigate and orient students through an "image" that is text heavy.

    Check out the accompanying virtual poster sessions .

    The third program, Once Upon a FURL in a Podcast Long Ago: Using New Technologies to Support Library Instruction, must have struck a chord with ALA attendees as so many kept crowding into the hotel conference room to listen that the hotel staff had to take down one of the walls and open up the hallway to add more seating!

    With an academic perspective on Web 2.0 technologies, Joan Lippincott, Associate Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information kickstarted this panel with a terrific overview of a variety of libraries that are adjusting their environments and services to meet the needs of this new generation of students. Addressing these needs and facilitating deeper learning (e.g., social, active, contextual, engaging, and student-owned), Lippincott states that these libraries are shifting their focus from students as information seekers to students as information producers, from teaching about library access to resources to teaching about access to information and tools, from teaching about policies and rules to fostering policy awareness and discussion. This also included the transformation of information literacy from expert to collaborative, from focused on owned, licensed items to mixed including those freely available. Some examples that she highlighted were:

  • Georgetown University's Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship
  • Dartmouth's RWIT: Center for Research, Writing, & IT
  • University of Pennsylvania's Penn Tags Social Bookmarking
  • Stanford University's GroupSpace with TeamSpot
  • University of Delaware's Student Multi-Media Design Center
  • Georgia Tech's Presentation Rhearsal Studio.

    Kathleen Burnett, Associate Professor, Information Studies, Florida State University followed Lippincott with a perspective on what current library science students are being taught about Web 2.0 technologies at Florida State's College of Information. Kathryn Shaughnessy, Instructional Services Librarian, St. John's University, Queens delivered a wonderful presentation on how St. John's has incorporated tutorials (using Captivate), podcasts (using Audacity), blogs (using WordPress), and wikis (using PBWiki and WikiPM) to support and deliver an online master's level course, Global Development and Social Justice Program. Shaughnessy also discussed using RefWorks as a RSS Reader. Memorably, she said "If a librarian asked me what the one new technology was that they needed to know, I'd say RSS." A bit later in her presentation Shaughnessy humorously stated, "If a librarian came up to me and asked what two new technologies they should know, I'd say RSS and Skype."

    Heather Tompkins, Reference & Instruction Librarian, Carleton College completed the panel with presenting an engaging, concrete view of a variety of social web tools applied to an academic environment. Tompkins argued that social web tools (Web 2.0 technologies) can be used to prepare and design for instruction, communicate and connect with faculty and students, and as a model to teach concepts about academic research. She also addressed why social web tools makes sense to incorporate into academic work. For instance, the social web is interactive, informal, easy, flexible, and focuses on connections. This matches what we know to be true about instructional best practices such as addressing a variety of learning styles and preferences (e.g., active learning), meeting students where they are, empowering students, and emphasizing connections and process.

    The various social web technologies that Tompkins discussed using in practical ways were FURL and del.icio.us (e.g., using social bookmarking tools to share information with faculty, staff, students, and colleagues), RSS (e.g., automatically populating web guides or subject pages on library website with RSS feeds), Flickr (e.g., annotating images such as library floor maps), Google Customized Search Engine (e.g., creating customized search engines for specific courses or project groups), and Google Docs & Spreadsheets (e.g., sharing and editing documents). And perhaps most intriguing was Tompkins argument for using social web tools to teach concepts about academic research. For example, she explained how a discussion and use of "tagging" can relate to the role and importance of controlled vocabulary. Also, a "blogroll" and the function it serves can be related to the function of bibliographies and how researchers use them.

    Check out the WSS panel's PowerPoints and handouts.

    ALA Annual 2007 was packed full of terrific programs many of them addressing practical and concrete ways of applying new, mobile, social, and relevant technologies to our library work for today's patrons.

    Think about getting involved in ALA! Now is the time to join a committee that interests you and addresses your concerns.

    For ALA membership information click here!

    Check out the ALA Member Blog!

    ALA Midwinter 2008 will be in Philadelphia, PA and ALA Annual in Anaheim, CA.

  • July 2, 2007

    Wikis Explained

    Here's a great video that talks about what a wiki is and how it can be used by a group from David Erickson with e-strategyblog.com: