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LIBRARIANS IN DIGITAL CONVERSATIONS: CREATING EFFECTIVE REAL-TIME CONNECTIONS BETWEEN RESEARCHERS AND RESOURCES
Librarians in Digital Conversations
Creating effective real-time connections between researchers
Joseph M. Yap
Introduce online reference assistance and the
use of social networking sites in providing real-
time information services.
Cite some examples of online reference
assistance being used by difference libraries
here and abroad.
1980s – beginning ofVRS/DRS (Han & Goulding,
1996 – started as a Digital Reference Resource
Development project of the ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information and Technology.
1999 –VRS/DRS was new in the field. There was
a fear that trained librarians will be replaced by
Synchronous vs Asynchronous
Virtual reference is reference service initiated
electronically, often in real-time, where patrons employ
computers or other Internet technology to communicate
with reference staff, without being physically present.
Communication channels used frequently in virtual
reference include chat, videoconferencing,Voice over IP,
co-browsing, e-mail, and instant messaging. (RUSA
Guidelines for Implementing and MaintainingVirtual
Reference Services, 2010 [PDF])
Reference services requested and provided over
the Internet, usually via e-mail, instant messaging ("chat"),
or Web-based submission forms, usually answered
by librarians in the reference department of a library
sometimes by the participants in a collaborative
reference system serving more than one institution.
Reference and User Services Association, 2004
“Virtual reference should be undertaken with a
view to the long-term integration of the service
with the rest of the institution's reference services.
Even at the planning or pilot phases, virtual
reference should not be treated as an ad hoc
IDENTIFY LIST OF
b) Organization and Design of Services
c) CriticalThinking and Analysis
a) Environmental Scanning
b) Application of Knowledge
c) Dissemination of Knowledge
d) Active Learning
b) Communication and Outreach
a) Relationships with Users
b) Relationships with Colleagues
c) Relationships within the Profession
d) Relationships beyond the Library and the Profession
Evaluation of Assessment and Resources
a) User Needs
b) Information Services
c) Service Delivery
d) Information Interfaces
e) Information Service Providers
Provides prominent, jargon-free pointers to all forms of
reference services via the library's web or mobile site.
Responds in a timely fashion to remote queries.
Acknowledges user questions in a timely manner.
Maintains regular online or voice contact with the patron to
convey interest and provide assurance that the query is still
viable and a response is forthcoming.
Signals an understanding of the patron’s need.
Uses current technology during the reference interview to
gather as much information as needed to serve the patron’s need
without compromising patron privacy.
Uses appropriate technology to help guide the patron through
information resources, when possible.
Encourages the patron to contact the library again if he/she has
further questions by making a statement such as “If you need
additional information, please contact us again and we’ll try
Virtual reference communications between patrons and
library staff should be private except as required by law.
Data gathered and maintained for the purpose of evaluation
should protect patrons' confidentiality.
Reference transactions may be used in the creation of
databases and FAQs but care should be taken to maintain the
privacy of patrons and the confidentiality of patrons’ inquiries.
Data gathered and maintained for training purposes and for
publicizing the service should also protect patron
The Philippines is quite behind in
terms of the development of DRS
compared to its counterparts abroad
(Abrigo & Ramos, 2011).
DRS in the Philippines
Types of Reference Questions
Directional questions do not require the use of any
additional resources.A general, geographic knowledge of
where things are and how things are done is generally all
that is needed.
The first kind of question can be answered quickly by
consulting one or two standard reference tools, such as
almanacs, encyclopaedias and directories.These requests
are generally for a single fact or a short answer. [what,
The second kind of ready reference question could be
called instructional; providing the answer involves
demonstrating a skill. [how]
Specific search questions involve looking for more
information than a single fact and generally require
searching multiple sources for the answer.The librarian
needs to formulate a search strategy to select
appropriate resources that will answer the question.
Research questions are more complex than other
MyPhoneExplorer is a proprietary freeware desktop
application allowing management of Sony
Ericsson and Android mobile phones. It was developed in
Austria and has been translated into many languages,
Chat reference training has four primary categories and two
subcategories: initial software training, training on chat reference
skills, mentoring, and ongoing practice. Subcategories include training
materials and assessment and evaluation of training.
Software training is the first step of the program. Librarians must
understand the software employed to support chat reference
service. Software training delivered in a short period of time, often a
day or two (Coffman, 2003).
Mentoring: Mentoring provides personal assistance from
experienced librarians. Coffman (2003) suggests that those who
learn the skills quickly become mentors to relieve the project
Ongoing training.Training is an ongoing process. New resources and
changes in policies require continuous training. Ongoing training
provides an opportunity for sharing experiences and discussing
problems (Coffman, 2003)
Training materials. Kawakami and Swartz (2003) state that
access to competencies, best practices, and other training
and policy materials is necessary for good performance.
Multiple formats facilitate easy access.A website can be
used to organize material such as software tips, contact
information, and transcript examples.
Assessment and evaluation. Evaluation is important for
assessing the effectiveness of a training program.Trainees
may fill out a questionnaire to assess their skills before
training, and complete another to evaluate what they have
learned after the training.
Launched on November 2013.
LIA answers ready-reference and research questions and
provides online bibliographic and technology instruction.
As such, LIA will not answer questions related to: (a)
computer configuration, maintenance, and
troubleshooting; (b) provision of investment, legal, or
medical advice; (c) tutoring or homework help; and, (d)
job interview preparation.