Digital Reference In Academic Libraries…08.10.09

10 08 2009


From the Digital Reference post Presentation at Princeton:

“…I hope that I succeeded in my talk in focusing on four key points:

  1. For a variety of reasons, IM software (and widgets) are more popular than ever among libraries that want to offer synchronous online reference, as new digital reference services are launched using IM (as opposed to using web chat clients from QuestionPoint, Altarama, etc.) and other libraries (like Temple) are moving to drop their longstanding subscriptions to web chat software.
  2. The last few years have seen an explosion of new ways to communicate online with our patrons; pilot projects to try out these new tools and see what works are flowering everywhere. Some tools and technologies that either just launched this year or will very soon (such as Google Wave) are worth keeping an eye on, as they might expand the ways that we our patrons can reach us and enrich reference interactions.
  3. Collaborative reference services continue to grow and offer an institution a viable alternative to trying to staff an online reference alone.
  4. We need to find more ways to expose reference work to raise the profile of all our reference services. Much as Lorcan Dempsey has suggested we need to make (library) data work harder, we also need to make the traces of reference transactions work harder by repurposing and reusing them in various ways…”

MyInfoQuest Presentation – “A Collaborative Project from a Librarian’s Perspective…07.30.09

30 07 2009

Thanks to IamLibrarian for posting this presentation about MyInfoQuest by Alison Miller.  In a recent post, I highlighted the MyInfoQuest service.
View more presentations from Alison .

Roving Reference and Other Tools…06.26.09

26 06 2009


From Justine Shaffner, the Librarian is IN, comes this from her post New Roving Reference and Assistive Technology Tools:

“Back in the days when libraries weren’t quite so busy, if I didn’t have a constant stream of questions at the reference desk, I’d get bored and start trawling the stacks for people who looked confused.  I was delighted when we got a tablet computer as I no longer had to drag the patron over to a PAC or run between them and my computer for call numbers and answers. Having the internet with me at all times helped a lot when I needed to show the customer searching the art books for Van Gogh’s Starry Night how easily she could find it on Google Images, but while I could see the same catalog interface as our patrons, there wasn’t a way in to the staff side of our materials database.  That put a damper on my speed as quick, powerful searches and circulation functions still had to be done from the reference desk.

So I was intrigued by three of the products in the May/June 2009 issue of Public Libraries. EnvisionWare now has a LibraryPDA(TM) that can evidently do all staff side functions (plus inventory).  And for those of you with a SirsiDynix ILS, there’s Horizon PocketCirc 1.0 with functions similar to the LibraryPDA but with remote access also available, so you no longer have to write down titles and barcodes while checking out books at a school, offsite program or town event.

The third product would be great not only for visually challenged patrons, but also for commuters wanting to make effective use of travel time. ReadSpeaker works with WilsonWeb’s many full text databases and converts articles into audio for immediate listening (will wonders never cease – let’s hope all our database vendors follow suit)…”

“LibStats” – A Simple Way for Library Reference & Service Desks to Track Statistics…04.15.09

15 04 2009


LibStats is “A simple web-based app for tracking library reference statistics”

“Libstats provides a simple way for library reference & service desks to track statistics on the number of questions asked, as well as build a simple knowledge base.

Libstats requires PHP and Pear::DB. It is, by far, easiest to run via Apache…”

U.S. Government to Launch Data.Gov in May…04.06.09

6 04 2009


How do your library/information patrons and/or clients deal with information complexity?…04.03.09

3 04 2009


Information World Review‘s How do your clients deal with information complexity? article authors Bernice de Braal and Peter Newman  say, “People deal with information complexity by either reducing that complexity or absorbing it. Knowing whether your clients are shrinkers or swallowers is a key insight for information professionals.

Their interesting article is excerpted here:

There is a consensus that the world has entered a knowledge era where information is power and rapid learning a necessary condition for success. The concept itself, though, is nothing new: the English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon is credited with coining the phrase ‘knowledge is power’ in 1597 in his Meditationes Sacrae. And in business, knowledge is now widely regarded as a powerful source of competitive advantage.

But information tends to be complex and, as anybody who has worked in different types of libraries and information services knows, clients from different communities handle information, both simple and complex, in different ways. Someone from the business community, for example, will handle information differently to someone from the academic or medical community.

To be part of a community and to truly belong, you have to be able to understand and process information given to you by other members of that community. Such communities have been described as populations of data-processing agents. The way in which the community’s data-processing agents handle information is one of the community’s key cultural attributes, and different communities have evolved different strategies for handling the complexity of the information they deal with

The strategic choice of whether to reduce or absorb complexity implies handling abstraction in different ways. Reducing complexity requires a highly structured world model. Crucially, alternative explanations are regarded as competing with each other. The community’s members search for the best explanat ion and the best abstraction, normally on a logical basis.

By contrast, absorbing complexity requires the community to accept co-existing contradictory explanations and so simultaneous alternative abstractions.

This may be second nature to information professionals, but not necessarily to their clients

There are four distinct institutional types – markets, bureaucracies, fiefs and clans – associated with different types of informational complexity, necessitating different informational strategies. The four types distinguish between open information that is available to everyone and secret information that is accessible only by insiders.

Markets refer to institutions where information is highly codified and disseminated. Relationships are impersonal and everyone looks after their own interests. Market types are open. There are no barriers to entry and exit. Examples include the financial and commodities markets. Market types reduce informational complexity.

Bureaucracies refer to the use of secretive, codified information to achieve co-ordination; the approach is sometimes called hierarchical co-ordination. Bureaucracies are impersonal and secretive by nature. Efficient government agencies resemble bureaucracies, as they possess a strong capacity to structure, refine and make sense of information. Other examples include the military and large corporations. Bureaucracies reduce informational complexity.

Fiefs, unlike market types, are about personal power and charisma. Inf ormation is secret and uncodified. Knowledge resides with a few, making relationships hierarchical and personal. Fiefs are personal and secretive. An R &D department where one prominent scientist leads large projects, aided by assistants, could be a fief. Other examples include cartels and top management teams. Fiefs absorb informational complexity.

Clans are produced by open, uncodified and non-disseminated information. Clan types are personal and open. Examples include family businesses, the top tier of some bureaucracies, and some entrepreneurial startups. Clans absorb informational complexity…

Information complexity provides several key messages for information professionals.

First, information professionals have to understand and react to the needs of their clients, even if those clients do not fully appreciate the nature of their needs and what action is appropriate.

Second, in their roles as information professionals, librarians and information and knowledge managers need to be able to diagnose the strategy that their clients (and client communities) use to handle complex information: are they reductionists or absorptionists?

Third, information professionals may find they need to modify the way they organise their knowledge and their information services (especially their cataloguing and classification) to suit their clients’ reductionist or absorption strategies, and also the way that they present information to their clients.

The nature of the client community’s institutions give some insights into how they handle complex information…”

FREE Archived Webinar “Setting Boundaries with Library Patrons”…03.16.09

16 03 2009


Through an interest in finding benchmark behavior in dealing with library patrons, I came across a FREE archived webinar titled Setting Boundaries with Library Patrons worth reviewing from 2008 on InfoPeople which states:

“… will help participants:

  • Learn how using the four cornerstones of setting boundaries makes working with the public 100% easier
  • Learn to disengage from really nice patrons who want a friend without causing a scene or hurting their feelings
  • Learn where to invest your energy to make your library run more smoothly
  • Learn to develop the culture your library needs to meet the needs of all your patrons
  • Learn a verbal formula for dealing with challenging, demanding, or overexcited patrons
  • Learn five rules that will make your staff more efficient and your library a more pleasant place to work…”


Speaker: Edmond Otis
Edmond Otis
  • Speaker’s slides
  • Speaker’s handouts
    • The Rules – Word [16kb] – Acrobat [41kb]
    • The Four Cornerstones – Word [15kb] – Acrobat [37kb]
    © 2009 Infopeople Project