Tag Archives: digital services

3 things I like about digital reference

19 Nov

So much has been going on in my own Librarian Causal Domain that I haven’t been sure what to post about; keeping things simple seems the way to go. So does keeping things positive, and I’ve been having some extremely positive experiences with digital reference lately. So, here are things I enjoy about chatting with patrons and answering their questions online:

  1. It gives me a lot of practice. Between my weekly shift on Cornell chat reference, and my biweekly shift monitoring 40+ queues for the nation and state co-ops in which we participate, I end up answering more true questions within an hour or two than I might otherwise see all week, depending on the time of year. I almost feel like one of the folks who use online poker to train for Vegas; there’s nothing like handling multiple reference interviews — sometimes simultaneously — to hone your skills.
  2. I dig the pace of the interactions. Not only does the chat format allow me to handle multiple questions at once, it also brings with it the assumption that there will be pauses in the interaction. I confess that if I need to track down three leads before I find whatever it is the patron needs, it feels more comfortable to tell them I’ll be a couple of minutes and come back to them with the right answer than to have them sitting and watching me investigate. (Might be more comfortable for them, too: they get to keep working on their own things, and don’t have to listen to me talk to myself.)
  3. It forces me to learn new systems. For the external chat stuff, I’ll usually need to dig through new library web sites, catalogs, policy pages, and so forth in order to answer questions. Even within Cornell, I’m dealing with collections and services that are unfamiliar to me almost as often as I get to use the ones that have become second nature to me through my reference work here at Catherwood. This kind of perspective change tends to help me improve at something for which my skill has plateaued, and combined with point #1 I feel like this is the best thing I can be doing right now for my reference chops.

So that’s my simple, positive, and slightly long-winded take on why I like digital reference. If y’all spend your time chatting with patrons through the marvelous interwebs, what do you think of it?

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Is this what being a librarian feels like?

13 Aug

I enjoy reading the “day in the life” posts that many blogger librarians write. After spending the last couple of days trying to hash out my week-to-week schedule for the coming semester, I think I’m close to being able to do that myself. At the very least, I’m beginning to see why such posts tend to be so long.

This fall, each of my weeks will include:

  • Three reference desk shifts here at Catherwood.
  • One shift of Cornell’s online chat reference service.
  • One shift of chat reference service for the co-op to which Cornell belongs.
  • Two classes in eskrima. (Which will not, I hope, prove directly applicable to the aforementioned reference shifts. But they will probably facilitate the maintenance of sanity.)

Every month, I’ll also have:

  • At least one meeting of the CUL Reference and Outreach Committee.
  • At least one forum, run by said committee.
  • At least one meeting of the CUL Digital Reference Committee.
  • At least a few meetings regarding the ongoing library consolidation plan.

And then there’s the other stuff on this semester’s to-do list:

It’s a more than slightly overwhelming list, especially since I know it won’t prove exhaustive. It almost certainly necessitates the delegation to others of a bunch of mundane tasks  that I still do because my previous position has remained unfilled. But truth be told, the folks above me in the chain of command have been recommending that I do that for a while now; this semester may prove the necessary impetus.

I feel like this semester is giving me a better picture of what my career’s gonna look like for at least the next several years. And the funny thing is, I’m not only OK with that, I’m pretty damned psyched about it. Overwhelming as it is, it also sounds like fun.

And not just the stick-fighting.

NPR embraces the new golden age

6 Jun

Too funny (and on point) not to share:

Which of these innovations will your library be embracing? I’m thinking autotuned ref questions, myself.