CIL Notes: Next-Gen Digital Reference Tools

Reference 2.0 is mobile, digital, and social. We need to maximize the combination of these.

–Joe Murphy

Breakneck tour of the state of digital reference. I’m a little overwhelmed by Madeline Kriescher (implementation strategies), Joe Murphy (futurecasting), and Jan Johansson’s (data and visualization) state of the industry. The whole thing leaves me with a lot of questions, fueled by the still embryonic state of this technology. It’s the same thing with Web 2.0 – we know what the tools are, but how to put them together is another issue entirely. And I say this as someone for whom mobile service has been a major focus for my last year or so of work.

I guess what’s really giving me pause is the quandary of what we need versus what will actually work. The state of mobile technology is still pretty clunky. I keep thinking of the article Mobile Web 2009 = Desktop Web 1998. Do we really want to be interacting with our 2009 patrons using 1998-era tools? Can we use our advanced devices – i.e. our desktop PCs as the hub for all our conversations? As these tools continue to advance, this may become less of a problem.By driving the traffic to a central location on our end, our reach to all the points in the could becomes quicker, and the seams stop showing.

I’m particularly interested in the data/visualization tools presented by Jan Johansson. I remain convinced that we need to develop some kind of saberbibliometrics – new ways of looking at our collected data, perhaps in ways that transcend the traditional departmental boundaries. Tools like Google Gadgets and ManyEyes can help us do this, and display the info in new and exciting ways.

Hit the jump for raw notes.

Next-Gen Digital Reference Tools

Madeline Kriescher, US Courts Library, 10th Circuit

Joe Murphy, General Science Librarian & Instruction Coordinator, Yale

Jan Johansson, Data Librarian, Congressional Research Service

MK: Describing US Courts library – work with lawyers

Diverse patron base looking for many types of service

Mostly male, mostly white, mostly 60+

Because of this, Twitter/FB/etc. tends to fall on deaf ears.

Past exp: Denver PL – SmartyPants service, which became Ask Colorado

Hows and Whys of IM Reference

  • Must be tailored to patrons, and their core set of values
  • Bear funding/goals/software/staff time in mind
  • Training
  • Marketing

Not a replacement for traditional services

Many still prefer f2f, email ref.

Get a toehold, and slowly introduce other forms of virtual reference service (text a librarian, teaching opportunities, chat)

Integrating SNing – Twitter, J-Net, Ning, YoungFeds

Linking to blogs/blawgs

Resources for referral

JM: Future Prospects & Best Practices for Reference 2.0

Mobile, virtual, and social

Using mobile devices and distributed across social networks

How to bring all of that stuff together. (Mobile technology is still clunky though – how do you bring people forward while still using a crippled technology?)

ChaCha: gold standard for mobile reference

  • No account
  • No shortcode
  • Quick

Mobile applications – go-to point for many when searching for innovation

Where are the library apps? (not just for iPhones, but other devices)

Suite of resources

Searching and accessing books and journals, instruction, account access, tag and customization

Facebook is the new focus point. MySpace is gone for all intents and purposes, ning is too small

institutional accounts

Applications are the driver for all this stuff.

IM still a huge platform for interaction. But it’s not mobile enough. We need to be creative in how we make IM mobile. IM-to-SMS/SMS-to-IM


Users looking for a final answer more than anything else.

Interfaces getting better for searching

This isn’t happening with our data collection tools (think SPSS, STATA, MATLAB)

Can we develop tools that create useful data visualization w/o as steep a learning curve?

Tools: LexisNexis Statistical Datasets

Data + Google Spreadsheets with Gadgets

Data + ManyEyes (visualization tools)

Bringing response/demo time to under a minute for data services – immediate effect

Inter-university consortium for political and social research – huge data sets, not as much visualization material

Census bureau – “I think it’s best in breed” – also enhanced by a visualization tool

Visual depiction of statistics goes beyond “lies, dammed lies, and statistics”- a very dangerous weapon with a great potential for misuse

Google Gadgets: tools to diplay data that has multiple variables – chart data w/multiple axes

exploring the intersection of libraries, technology, and community

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