RUSA MARS / RSS Virtual Reference Services (Reference and User Services Association) Committee
The ETS/RSS Virtual Reference Services Committee hosted an eforum July 15 and 16. Following is a summary of the conversations. If you would like to read the full archive of the eforum conversation, go to http://lists.ala.org/sympa/info/vrc-eforum, then enter your email and password in the login area on the E-Forum web site, and finally click the link for archive.
VR Eforum Day 1 Summary
Tuesday, July 15, 2015
While there were a few libraries who had noted a decrease in the number of chat questions their libraries were fielding, most respondents noted an increase in the number of questions. Some of the drivers for the increase in use was ascribed to marketing to students and placement of a chat widget in the university’s LMS. One participant noted an increase in the number of questions after the library introduced a “proactive” chat pop-up after reading about it in a College & Research Libraries News article. Some libraries noted that they saw a drop in the number of chat questions when the link to the chat service became less prominent on the library’s web site.
Chat Reference Patrons
Responses to the question about chat patrons was limited, but a respondent noted that while both students and faculty at their library use the chat service, students make up more of the users. Response to the question about satisfaction was also limited, but a respondent noted that feelings about the service are overwhelmingly positive.
Training for libraries operating in a consortial environments
There were a number of options used by libraries for training across institutions. These included shared screen walk-throughs of the chat interface, wikis and policy documents that are accessible to those staffing the service, to internal training within member libraries. One respondent noted that up to date and thorough policy pages were very important to those staffing the service. Some chat services, such as QuestionPoint allow a staff person to mark a question as needing follow up by the patron’s home library, which even with extensive policy pages, can be a better way to serve patrons.
VR EForum Day 2 Summary
Wednesday, July 16, 2015
How are you counting stats for your chat reference?
- The most usable numbers are:
- How many questions are our students asking?
- How many questions are we answering?
- Tracking when questions get asked, particularly before/after hours for those participating in a shared environment like QuestionPoint
- Checking to see if enough local questions are being answered by local staff
How is your chat service being marketed? Is it through instruction sessions, print or online marketing, or word of mouth? If your library’s virtual reference client offers a widget, where is the widget placed?
- Newsletters, video displays
- Mention during Tours
- Promote in classes
- Outreach to local schools
- Student orientation
- Widgets placement – some had on all pages, some prominently featured on homepage, one mentioned including whenever a catalog search generated zero results
Are you satisfied with your chat software? Enhancements you'd like?
- Enhancements desired:
- Would like screen sharing
- Skype/webcam option
- More robust reporting, easier to manipulate transcripts
What types of software do you use in conjunction with your chat software to enhance the user experience?
- No responses
Happy Holidays, RUSA MARS/VR Committee!
We'll need to get an update for our Midwinter report, coming in January. Please think about best ways we can work together...this has been the most quiet group!
In the meantime, it's time for us to schedule our committee meetings and committee-sponsored discussion forums for ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas.
Information on what is necessary to schedule meetings is at our ALA Connect group at:
Are you planning to attend ALA Annual in Las Vegas? I can't but I believe my co-Chair Alisa Gonzalez is going to be there. Let's get a count of who is attending as soon as you can reply to this (and please let me know if you have any questions!)
Thank you so much,
Cathay Keough (formerly "Crosby"; newly married)
Hello MARS/RSS VR Services committee!
As co-chairs, Alisa and I would like to find out about your availability for meeting at ALA Midwinter held in Philadelphia (http://alamw14.ala.org/). We'd like to arrange for a discussion forum during Midwinter, focused upon our mission and future planning. Your participation is needed! Please respond to the follow two questions when you get a chance:
1. Are you going to Midwinter in January (1/24-28, 2014)?
2. Forum Discussion Topics: Besides our primary interest in discussing our mission and possible future projects, we'd like to hear from you about any subjects you'd like to cover.
-Cathay and Alisa
The RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee held its official meeting at ALA Annual in New Orleans on Saturday, June 25, as part of the RSS All-Committee meeting. Eight people were in attendance. The primary goal of the meeting was final planning for the committee's sponsored program held on Monday, June 27, at 8:00 a.m.: Behind the Text: Pulling Back the Curtain on Virtual Reference. In the end, the program was quite successful with 135 attendees and several people offering congratulations and asking for the presenters' slides.
The committee also discussed the program pending approval by RUSA Board for ALA Annual 2012 on evaluation of virtual reference services: (tentatively titled) "Are Virtual Reference Services Worth the Effort?". Panelists and a moderator have all been tentatively confirmed. Ideas for ALA Annual 2013 were also briefly brainstormed at the meeting.
The Virtual Reference Tutorial Subcommittee reported on their exemplary work in updating the Online VR Tutorial. They are awaiting the migration of the ALA site to Drupal to update specific aspects of the tutorial, but they are prepared to move forward with two currently updated modules.
The committee plans to conduct their official midwinter virtually in January 2012.
The RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee will be hosting a...
at ALA Annual in Chicago
Sunday, June 30, 2013
11:00 am to 2:00 pm
in the Networking Uncommons area of the Convention Center
Why Wikipedia? For good or for ill, Wikipedia is consistently in the Top 10 most-visited websites in the world. People are using it! For librarians, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to train people on how, why, and when to use Wikipedia effectively and appropriately. The opportunity is to use it to highlight local collections and expertise. Editing the collaborative, online encyclopedia is a great way to get to understand it from behind-the-scenes and to be able to share this knowledge with patrons and students.
An edit-a-thon is a great place to start this learning process. An edit-a-thon, as described by the Wikimedia Foundation, is "an event in which people work together in person to build content on a wiki."
The Edit-a-thon at ALA Annual will be a low-key, informal affair, and those interested in learning more about becoming a "Wikipedian" (i.e., someone who edits Wikipedia articles) and trying one's hand at some actual editing are highly encouraged to drop by during the times posted above. We're also asking experienced Wikipedians to drop by to serve as mentors for the event.
There are no "themes" for this event; however, two suggestions for content to add to Wikipedia include:
- Hyper-local content: Check out Wikipedia's new Nearby page to find landmarks in your area that could use a photo or updated text and bring that info to Chicago.
- Take part in the Wikipedia Citation Clean-up Project (Seems tailor-made for librarians!)
If you're new to Wikipedia editing, here are some resources to look at if you're interested in getting a jump on the event on June 30:
If you have any questions about the event, feel free to post a comment here.
We'll also use this page to update everyone after ALA Annual as well!
Hope to see you in Chicago!
Midwinter Meeting Follow-up:
A link to the recording of the meeting is available online.
A copy of the Minutes are attached below (and also available on our official Meeting Minutes Landing Page.
The agenda below also has the additional appendices referred to during the meeting. Here is also the link for the RSS Evaluation of Reference and User Services Committee meeting minutes where the joint virtual reference survey project was discussed: ERUS Meeting Minutes (.docx)
We will be holding our RSS/MARS Virtual Reference Services Committee meeting on:
February 15, 2-3pm Eastern (1-2pm Central, 12-1pm Mountain, 11am-noon Pacific) in Blackboard Collaborate.
Please use this URL to access our meeting: http://tinyurl.com/rusa-room-2. When it asks for a login, enter your name.
Please try to arrive 5-10 minutes early to test your audio, which you can do once in the system by going to Tools -> Audio -> Audio Set Up Wizard. Please test your audio upon entering.
Headsets are preferred, but there is also a toll-free conference number available: 1-866-717-7547, enter PIN: 72620830#
You can test your system’s compatibility here: http://support.blackboardcollaborate.com/ics/support/default.asp?deptID=8336
An agenda (PDF) is attached to this announcement below.