In the morning, Sara Weissman (Morris County, New Jersey, Public Library), Charles McClure (Florida State University, and Sharon Morris (Colorado State University) presented "E-Reference Services: What Are Our Users Telling Us?" All said some of the biggest users of e-reference--e-mail and IM--were teens. Saving time was the big issue for them.
Information-seeking behavior varied by age groups, Morris found. Older teens started their own searches and contacted librarians when they got stuck. Often, middle-schoolers started by asking a reference librarian. Morris's clutch of quotes from info-seeking teens are stuff you just can't make up. Here's one:
"You people need to get a live [sic]. I mean if you have time to talk to me at 8 in the morning then you have issues and do you need a tissue. You are sooo retarded."
One problem that Weissman mentioned is that a main source for e-reference funding is LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) grants, which require evaluation analyses. Couple of problems:
1. E-reference use is still low in most places, percentages in the single digits and teens. How to justify spending more money when the numbers are low? A librarian from King County, Washington, where e-reference has really taken hold, pointed out that they get 350 e-ref questions per week. More than most other places mentioned by a factor of 10+.
2. How to evaluate? McClure mentioned four ways: statistical analysis, peer review of chat-session transcripts, patron exit surveys, and phone interviews. But he and the others pointed out out complicated and sometimes pointless it can be to get valid information this way.
Apparently, most patrons, when asked if they had a good library experience, say "yes" whether they did or not. I guess it's the same as when you're near the end of a mediocre restaurant meal and the maitre d' walks by and asks, "Was everything satisfactory?" Unless you've crunched down on glass in your salad, which I did once, most people just nod "yes" politely. In libraries, sometimes people don't even know if they've gotten satisfactory information, especially when whatever's found on the first two screens of a Google search satisfies.
Weissman suggests e-ref get a standardized front end (name and interface), such as askwi.info for e-ref in Wisconsin, askco, askma, et al. Such familiarization and more good marketing of e-services seems a smart way to go. People like what they know.
Basically, e-reference still needs more marketing and better integration into the larger library picture. But with computer-savvy teens becoming adults, it seems like it will only grow.
Since today was mostly large groups sitting in large rooms with speakers at the front (i.e., makes for boring images), today's pix are a mix of scenes I saw walking around north Michigan Ave. Lunch was close to the Marriott and a treat: sushi at Sushi Izagaya. I got a vegetarian bento box: tempura; sushi with cucumber, avocado, asparagus, mushroom; salad with ginger dressing; a sauteed tofu patty with delish sauce, another cold salad of spinach, shitake mushrooms, eggplant, and peanuts. Oh, and miso.
Top Ten Tech Trends:
I'm not going to name all the speakers (nearly 10) because fatigue is setting in. And I'm just going to cover the highlights, the trends that came up more than once, or those that particularly piqued my interest.
* Self-sufficient virtual libraries with streaming audio/video, ILL, and more.
* Storage systems. With info-overload and digital migration problems, a preservation model must be found. Digital repositories and how to connect them.
* The OPAC Still Sucks.
* Metasearch: how to bring disparate resources together seamlessly. Said in a number of ways by a number of speakers.
* How to supply better web services (this relates to metasearch and was mentioned by a few speakers). An example: Roy Tennent mentioned how www.chicagocrime.org uses statistics with Google maps to color-code types of crime where they occur.
* No more citation databases (yes, and how frustrating are those): match citation with content.
* Digital Rights Management: so when you check out an audio or video from the library, actually or virtually, it will play on the player you have/use.
* Figuring out the relationship between libraries and McGoogle.
* Integrating open access and open source into the larger library system.
* Personalization. Info overload = patrons looking for more personalized services and technologies, such as "push" technologies.
* Growth of interactive marketplaces, such as craigslist, blogs, wikis, file-sharing. How do libraries fit with this growing community of trickle-up technology?
* How to deal with the rise of the "plagiosphere" and the possible crush of fair use.
After a day full of info, I needed some down time, so I walked toward the Water Tower on my way to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Free today...because most of the galleries were closed, as new exhibits were being readied. Disappointing. Some of what I saw was provocative. Much was not. So I sat out on the patio and sipped a cold latte.
Annis Lee Adams (Univ. of Hawaii), Philip Homan (Idaho State Univ.), and I were recognized for winning the 3M/NMRT Professional Development Grant, which paid for us to come to ALA. Might not be here otherwise, and we are all three grateful. (I'll be at the 3M booth, #2016, tomorrow noon-1.)
The three of us finally met, talked, enjoyed each other's company. Yummy desserts: chocolate fondue with a variety of dipping delights and an assortment of bite-sized cannoli, fruit tarts, cheese-cakey things...mmmmm. Fueled on sugar and drinks: let the dancing begin! I found some UT compatriots and we rocked out to the B52s Love Shack and other tunes. Librarians in buns with eye-glass chains. I think NOT.