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Pros & Cons of IM/SMS for Virtual Reference. Kris Johnson, Coordinator AskColorado Virtual Reference Collaborative Colorado State Library Albuquerque, New Mexico - March 15, 2007. For Your Consideration -. Using IM or SMS for Virtual Reference. General Presentation Outline.

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Pros cons of im sms for virtual reference

Pros & Cons of IM/SMS for Virtual Reference

Kris Johnson, Coordinator

AskColorado Virtual Reference Collaborative Colorado State Library

Albuquerque, New Mexico - March 15, 2007


For your consideration

For Your Consideration -

Using IM or SMS for Virtual Reference


General presentation outline
General Presentation Outline

  • Virtual reference defined

  • Changing nature of library public services

  • How libraries can use new communication technologies to stay in the forefront

  • About IM and SMS…and Call Center software

    • Virtual Reference Choices: Pros and Cons

  • Questions - Discussion


Virtual reference
Virtual Reference?

Real-time reference

Live reference

Digital reference

Online reference

IM reference

Call Center Software

Chat reference

SMS reference

eReference

24/7 reference

Virtual reference


Virtual reference definition
Virtual Reference Definition

From RUSA:

“Reference service initiated electronically, often in real-time, where patrons employ computers or other internet technology to communicate with reference staff.”


Chat reference definition
Chat Reference Definition

From liswiki.org:

“A form of virtual reference (or digital reference) in which the librarian and user exchange typed messages via an internet connection. Distinguished from other types of Virtual reference because it is a synchronous communication method, rather than something like email, which is asynchronous. ”


Collaborative virtual reference definition
Collaborative Virtual Reference Definition

From RUSA:

  • Some libraries may choose to provide virtual reference services collaboratively with other libraries:

    • to extend their hours of operation

    • to distribute staffing of the service across multiple libraries

    • to extend the expertise available

    • to realize cost saving associated with economies of scale.

  • Such collaboration may include working with virtual reference vendors, and/or participation in large regional or national collaborations.


Im definition
IM Definition

From Wikipedia:

“Instant messaging or IM is a form of real-time communication between two or more people based on typed text. The text is conveyed via computers connected over a network such as the Internet.”


Sms definition
SMS Definition

From liswiki.org:

“A form of virtual reference (or digital reference) in which users can send questions on their cell phones via SMS (also known as text messaging). ”

SMS = Short Message Service


Pros cons of im sms for virtual reference

"This site is awesome and I recommend it to many people. I know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

*AskColorado patron

AskColorado received 50,000+ queries in 2006


Pros cons of im sms for virtual reference

Google receives ~91 million searches… know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

per day.

"The ultimate goal is to have a computer that has the kind of semantic knowledge that a reference librarian has," says Google's director of technology Craig Silverstein. But truly smart search engines are probably decades away.”*

*Newsweek (3/29/2004): p.58


What has happened to the library brand
What Has Happened to the know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*Library Brand?

  • Recent reports suggest libraries could benefit from new, innovative methods of outreach to the public.

    • The Digital Disconnect: The Widening Gap Between Internet-Savvy Students and their Schools, 2002, Pew Internet & American Life Project

    • White Paper on The Information Habits of College Students, 2002, OCLC

    • Environmental Scan, 2003, OCLC

    • Perception of Libraries and Information Resources, 2005, OCLC Membership Report


Imagine what would happen to google
Imagine What Would know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*Happen to Google…

  • If it was only online 10 am – 7:45 pm (PST).

  • If it closed on Mondays and all major holidays.

  • If it required you to login with a proxy server password and login, 12 digit barcode, or SIN: student identification number.

  • If it made you type your searches using strange sounding search logic called Boolean operators and truncation.

  • If it required you to use proper spelling!


Changing nature of library public services
Changing Nature of know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*Library Public Services

  • “The place libraries hold today is no longer as distinct as it once was.”

    • OCLC Environmental Scan, 2003


Changing nature of library public services1
Changing Nature of know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*Library Public Services

  • “College students have confidence in their abilities to locate information for their study assignments. The first-choice web resources for most of their assignments are search engines (such as Google or Alta Vista).”

    • OCLC White Paper on The Information Habits of College Students, 2002


Changing nature of library public services2
Changing Nature of know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*Library Public Services

  • “Much like a school-issued textbook or a traditional library, students think of the Internet as the place to find primary and secondary source material for their reports, presentations, and projects.”

    • Pew Internet & American Life Project The Digital Disconnect: The Widening Gap Between Internet-Savvy Students and their Schools, 2002


Changing nature of library public services3
Changing Nature of know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*Library Public Services

  • “It is time to rejuvenate the ‘Library’ brand.”

    • OCLC Perception of Libraries and Information Resources, 2005


How to rejuvenate the library brand
How to Rejuvenate know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*the Library Brand

  • Libraries can use new communication technologies to stay in the forefront.

    • Blogs

    • Wikis

    • RSS Feeds

    • Synchronous and asynchronous Virtual Reference communications


How vr can aid rejuvenation
How VR Can Aid Rejuvenation know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • People are starting to expect real-time online service everywhere; e.g. retail, government services

    • Can help attract new users

    • Change expectations of current users

    • Puts us where our users are: online

    • Makes us more findable in the online environment


How vr can aid rejuvenation1
How VR Can Aid Rejuvenation know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Get our knowledge, helpfulness, and information expertise out there where the users are

    • Lead newer users towards thinking of libraries as the “go to” resource for their information needs

    • Lead older or lost users towards remembering that libraries are the “go to” resource for their information needs


Instant messaging im
Instant Messaging (IM) know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Uses popular IM programs:

    • AOL’s AIM

    • MSN Windows Live Messenger

    • Yahoo Messenger

  • Free

    • to library

    • to patron


Why use im
Why Use IM? know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Used by many libraries as a low-cost method of offering chat-based reference - most are free

  • Instantaneous, synchronous (simultaneous) communication - very fast!

  • Easy – for librarian and patron

  • Generally not platform dependent (works on Macs and PCs)

  • Potential for high visibility/impact with minimal effort


Why use im1
Why Use IM? know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Your Patrons (or future patrons!) may already be using it

    • 75% of online teens IM

    • 42% of online adults IM

    • 50% of IMing teens (32% of all teens) IM every single day

      * Pew Internet and American Life Project. Teens and Technology. 07/27/2005.


Im considerations
IM: Considerations know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Patron and librarian have to download a program

  • Commercial chat terms of service may include privacy concerns

    • read, then inform your users

  • No co-browsing

  • No 24/7 availability

  • Can’t do queuing or multiple patrons

    • unless you maintain more than one IM account


Libraries using im
Libraries Using IM know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • A good list is available at:

    • Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki


Pros cons of im sms for virtual reference

University of New Mexico is Using IM: know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*


Im aggregator software
IM Aggregator Software know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Allows you to monitor multiple IM accounts through one interface

    • Trillian

    • Gaim

  • Free


Embedded chat
Embedded Chat know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Completely web-based chat — no installations (downloads)

  • Sign-in with multiple accounts at once

  • Works even if IM is blocked at your site

  • Connection embedded directly into your website


Libraries using embedded chat
Libraries Using Embedded Chat know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • MeeboMe for Embedded Chat:

    • Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki

  • Chatango for Embedded Chat:

    • Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki

  • Plugoo for Embedded Chat:

    • Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki


Web based im with meebo
Web-based IM with know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*Meebo

  • Completely web-based—no installations (downloads)

  • Sign in with multiple accounts at once

  • Even if IM is blocked, this still works


Pros cons of im sms for virtual reference

Livermore (CA) Public Library is Using IM & Meebo know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*:


Livermore ca public library s meebo embedded chat
Livermore (CA) Public Library’s Meebo Embedded Chat know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*:


Short messaging system sms
Short Messaging System (SMS) know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Reference via cell phone text-messaging (patron-side) and an e-mail account (librarian-side)

    • Need a special, third party software called “Reference by SMS” from Altarama (Australian based company)

      Text messagee-mailtext message


Why use sms
Why Use SMS? know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Again, your patrons (or future patrons!) may already be using it

    • 45% of Americans (any age) have cell phones

    • 27% of them use SMS (text messaging)

      Pew Internet and American Life Project. The Rise of Cell Phone Text Messaging. March 14, 2005.


Sms considerations
SMS: Considerations know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Patron needs a cell phone

  • Currently uses servers based in Australia (Altarama) and not all cell phones can handle international SMS

  • Limited message length

  • Not synchronous


Libraries using sms
Libraries Using SMS know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Very few:

    • Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki currently lists five (5)


Pros cons of im sms for virtual reference

Southeastern Louisiana University is Using SMS know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*:


Call center software
Call Center Software know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

a.k.a. Live Chat Support Software; Live Support Software

  • Used mostly by businesses

  • Allows web site visitors to instantaneously communicate and interact with customer service personnel


Why use call center software
Why Use Call Center Software? know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Used by many libraries as a middle-ground method of offering chat-based reference

    • between Collaborative VR and free IM

  • Cost $$

    • But generally not as much as VR software

  • Fast and offers some advanced features over basic IM

  • Can embed in your webpage

    • Patron doesn’t have to download anything


Call center software considerations
Call Center Software: Considerations know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*

  • Call center software companies are not “library” focused

  • No true co-browsing

  • No 24/7 availability

  • Can’t do queuing

  • Can’t do multiple patrons

    • unless you pay for multiple “seats”


Pros cons of im sms for virtual reference

Eastern New Mexico University is Using Call Center Software know the internet has a wealth of information on it but so often it is hard to find. Your site takes so much of the frustration out of research. Thank you! Thank you!”*



Library vendor based virtual reference vr software features
Library Vendor Based Virtual Reference (VR) Software Features

  • Fee-based software application that offers a suite of reference services and features:

    • Synchronous communication

    • Instant messaging (IM)

    • Co-browsing of web pages (or modified co-browsing)

    • Document sharing

    • Queuing and notification of incoming calls

    • Call transferring

    • Customization of pre-scripted messages

    • Storage of chat transcripts – and e-mail features

    • Statistical reporting

    • Exit surveys


Three major vr software companies
Three Major VR Software Companies Features

  • QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference:

    • www.questionpoint.org

  • Tutor.com:

    • www.tutor.com

  • Docutek VRLPlus:

    • www.docutek.com/products/vrlplus/index.html


Collaborative vr software considerations
Collaborative VR Software - Considerations Features

  • Slower - than basic IM

  • Training – advanced complexity requires longer training (than basic IM)

  • Less Compatibility – stiffer computer requirements r.e. operating systems, browser versions, firewalls, and connection speeds

  • Disconnects: advanced complexity leads to more frequent disconnects (than IM)


Collaborative vr software considerations1
Collaborative VR Software - Considerations Features

  • Stored transcripts kept in-definitely

  • Patron generally not connected to a local librarian

  • Cost: Depending on co-cop, no co-op, library size, etc. cost could be thousands of dollars


Why libraries join vr cooperatives
Why Libraries Join VR Cooperatives Features

  • Power in numbers

    • Combined financial and human resources distributes costs and staffing

    • Partnering helps to increase usage by offering continuous hours of service

    • Allows libraries to extend their service hours and outreach efforts – 24/7 model


Why libraries join vr cooperative
Why Libraries Join VR Cooperative Features

  • Many libraries want to provide virtual reference service to patrons, but can't afford to start service on own

    • Gain the benefits of the virtual reference software package

    • Better use of taxpayer dollars to collaborate


Why libraries join vr cooperatives1
Why Libraries Join VR Cooperatives Features

  • For rural areas:

    • Library may be too small, isolated, or under staffed to offer adequate services

    • Library are often closed when patrons need access or assistance

  • For colleges and universities:

    • Virtual reference can be used to enhance distance education


Why libraries join vr cooperatives2
Why Libraries Join VR Cooperatives Features

  • Opportunities for librarian rejuvenation

    • Learn new skills

    • Interact with patrons in new, exciting environment

    • Share expertise with larger audience

    • Extend the library to new Internet based society – ‘social networking’


How vr works 24 7
How VR Works 24/7 Features

  • AskColorado uses the Tutor.com Librarians By Request (LBR) service provide the service after-hours and in Spanish

  • Many libraries organize their won 24/7 staffing

  • OCLC QuestionPoint offers 24/7 back-up service


Libraries offering vr services
Libraries Offering VR Services Features

  • Links to many others from the LIS wiki.com

    • http://liswiki.com/wiki/Chat_reference_libraries


Collaborative vr queues
Collaborative VR – Queues Features

http://www.askcolorado.org/




Vr implementation considerations
VR Implementation - Considerations Features

  • Prior to implementing, think about:

    • Who are you going to serve?

    • Do you separately staff for VR service?

    • If not, how do you handle multiple services (VR, in-person, phone) at the same time?

    • Who is your primary responder to VR?

    • What kind of questions do you answer on VR?

    • What kind of security issues are there?

    • What kind of technical issue do you have locally?


Questions discussion
Questions - Discussion Features

Contact Info:

Kris Johnson - AskColorado Coordinator

Colorado State Library

johnson_k@cde.state.co.us - 303-866-6922