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Collabortive Virtual Reference Symposium : Session IV

Day 2:
Collaborative Virtual Reference Services from around the world: Marketing Virtual Reference Buy-in, Recruiting and Collaboration

Facilitator: Diana Sachs-Silveira

Presenter: Dyan Perley – We built it! And they came…Strategies for maintaining staff
sanity in times of rapid growth

-from Alberta, Canada
-Ask A Question – collaborative program
-area has seen significant pop. Growth over last 5 yrs – very stron economy
-40% of pop. Still using dial-up connection
--use open source
-developed by 3 alberta colleges (1999)
-post secondary expansion
-2001 – management of the service shifted to the Alberta Library
--AAQ was developed in the spirit of collaboration and consultation
-service pt – responsible for staffing AAQ for ques. About their library or community/inst.
-pl are responsible for ques. From outside Alberta

-website redesign – original very clunky, took many steps before even able to ask
-new site went live in oct 2006
-simplified design
-easier url
marketing campaign
-led to an overall increase of 96%
-60% of quest. Coming from non-target aud.

Maintaining buy-in
-responsive to staff needs
–developed new staff website – software modifications – added referring url – asked where they were coming from
-develop templates
-anticipate the unexpected
-try new things
-student & volunteer pilot projects – had 51 participants, answered @400 quest. In one term, students said the project was very valuable to them – then added the volunteer program, opened it up to other students outside of the class piloting the project
-created a http://del.icio.us/aaq acct
-referrals – based on asking them where they are coming from – people aren’t looking for libraries they are looking for “I want to ask” – they decided to refer back to the libraries they were associated w (ex. US libs)
-build community & Communicate
-listserv & blog
-site visits
-annual meeting – one person from each inst. Attends, good for seeing fact to name – get’s little free stuff
- express your appreciation
-regular service updates
-be open to new suggestions
-maintain communication – regular lines of communication, building of ref community

Next steps
-investigating further methods to:
-encourage Alberta-based growth
-direct out –of-province patrons to more appropriate resources
-thinking about doing a mash-up for patrons showing world map, click on where they live and see services in their area
-scheduled a rewrite of their scripts for 2008

Presenters: Ulf-G Nilsson & Magnus Illvered – Competence Clusters for virtual reference services: A new model for collaboration

-from Sweden – Jonkoping University Library
-serving @ 9mil. Pop. – around size of CA

background info:
-Ask the Library (pl) & Librarian on Duty (aca) – 2 consortia vr services
-bridge the 2 systems – not using external funding, housed at their U
-staffed during library hrs – also evenings and weekends
-using Docutek

2 constorias
Librarian on Duty – Chalmers, lunds UB
Ask the Library – Malmo SB, Orebro SB
-these are connected through the “Systems Bridge”

through the sustems bride the have their virtual desks for the main services and the individual libraries (like Chalmers, malmo sb…)
-kind of like different pods or queues for the services

The Model
Competence Clusters for vr services
-based on org. or individuals
-to create services dynamically

more and more demands for specialist services
-easy to do in the system to have the same person staff both services

in future… Locate Expert Competence
-pick out specialties in different libraries from around the world and connect to them

Based on org. or individuals – trying to put together a 24/7 staffing structure on their own

-could increase efficiency

Next step
-create a pilot project with European countries
-waiting on funding

for the user
-an easy way to make use of the competence in a collaborative network – they can access one or several parts of the org
for the org.
-use and reuse of competence in a network – increase the possibilities to enlarge – cut costs

$12.06 average cost in answering a quest. Individually
$6.00 in their project

had a decrease in numbers of ref questions overall, not online, looking to transfer the $$ to new services such as the project and expand

-showed commercial they did in SWe about a guy trying to answer/win radio contest of trivia questions while using the service and getting the right answers – very cute!

Presenter: Kini Piper – Fire in the belly: Developing a dynamic and dedicated team

-from New Zealand

-refer to vr librarians as operators

ideas for recruiting and rewarding – there’s a handout about the service
3 vr services in nz

-she is part of the only large collab. Vr service in nz

-patrons are mostly children and teens
-they need help with searching and identifying good resources

-they try to put people thru a pre-selection process – they show libs. What the service is like and how it works
-they advertise vacancies
-demo software – ask them if they want to continue to the next step – some stepped out
-the libs. Go thru a 1 hr test – simulate vr sessions
-how do they respond to a child or teen
-have core competencies they are measured against – ref skills can be taught but look for someone who has good multitask skills

-new recruits “buddy up” with experienced libs. Until they feel comfortable working on their own

-need coordinator at each site – need consistency – service coach does training
-service coach and coord are online as well to keep up skills
-nat’l library of nz provides resources for the service
-6 mos into new training model

training program
-theory, software, functionality
-go live, real-time work w software
-demo of websites, resources, and tools used for ref
-copy of eresources directory to take away

-they get training w/in 3 mos on the job
-training coach available for consult after training at any time
-go to onsite meetings, important to know face w name

-try to mix people with different experiences up so they get to meet people at different levels to learn new things

level 1 – new recruits up to 3 mos.
Level 2 – in the job for 6 mos.
Level 3 – most experienced, capable of mentoring the other levels

Once they had identified people at different levels, they wanted to look at recognition, boast enthusiasm
-acheivement certs. – operators license
-super users – get certs. To demonstrate different levels of experience and knowledge
-site coord chooses different gifts for their libs. – showing appreciation for contribution on team
-opportunity to speak at nat’l conferences
-scholarship to conferences (don’t have to speak) – free trip – demonstrate knowledge

see their libs. Skills gained here are very valuable in other parts of lib. Orgs. – gives transferable skills

-like to find ways libs. Can communicate with each other across the service
-want the libs. To drive this rather than the management

-rumor that those work on this service get promoted – just a rumor, but a good one

-libs. At all levels are encouraged to be part of project teams

Questions from Audience:
Q: What is the email service like – acceptable turn around time – for Alberta
A: generall, @ 24 hrs

Q: to Alberta – how long do you keep questions from the service?
A: indefinitely
Q: if a quest. Is being asked over and over is there a way to access that?
A: on the staff side, yes – archive, not on the public side

Q: for Sweden; how does the funding model work?
A: on academic side, all libs. Participating pay for software and resources, pl side it can be by lib or by county depending on participation, they (U) maintain the main server

Q: Sweden: how is the cost allocated, based by size, or per library
A: flat fee per library, each lib. Gets 5 seats, never a problem

Q: Sweden: how do you account for the $12 vs. $6
A: complicated, we check many variables, staffing, quests. Resources used…

Q: Sweden: what was the base salary?
A: differs a lot between academic and public

Q: for Alberta: do you own Ask a Question.com?
A: no, we own the aska question.ca url - I do have a list of resources, lib services for other areas for people not in their area, could work with others to make this a wider project for all libs.

Q: if we could work together, if we all pointed to a particular site we could direct people better

Q: for Alberta: do you have a sense of your volume?
A: @ 1300/mo, not all that we provided answers for

Q: for nz: about collab. With academic libs. If you get quest. From college students what do you do?
A: Any school student can ask us a quest. We occasionally get college students we redirect them to a different service for them. Don’t ave academics – they’re not interested in answering quest. From 7 yr olds. But open to new partnerships

Q: for nz: are your libs. Paid beside their own jobs?
A: no, they’re not paid any extra, just their reg. salary from their org.

Q: how do you handle your target market isn’t using the service until after school?
A: we find that a lot of students only have access to computers during school so we do get students during the day as well as after school. Looking at extending hours into evening but not there yet

Q: we have problems with students going outside firewall on schools. How do you handle that:?
A: there are some sites they can’t go to, we ask before we go there.

Q: for nz: your paper?
A: I do have a paper presentation, I’ll email it to the symposium and hopefully they can put it up

Kris: we’ll have all presentations up on the home site at the end of the month

Q: for nz: promotions?
A: we have @ 5000-6000 homeschoolers, they got our promo material during initial marketing, don’t have a main target group, main focus on maori (native) students

Q: do you have libs. That speak maori?
A: yes, it was being underused, separate queue

Q: for Sweden: you mentioned 7th frame, a collab. Program?
A: it is the biggest research group in Europe, we work through this, you have to have at least members from 3 different countries to use this (like lsta)

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