It is always good to get away from the desk, see a bigger library perspective and have time to reflect on library practices. It is even better when there is information shared and discussions with colleagues from many different libraries. OCLC began Member Forums last year to “contribute to the library cooperative.” This year in Washington DC, hosted by the Library of Congress, the member forum began with an evocative keynote by Lynn Connaway, “Transitioning the Library into the Users’ Environment.”
The keynote was developed from OCLC research and lucky for attendees we did get our own copy of the October 2015 report The Library in the Life of the User: Engaging with people Where They Live and Learn.
Research done in 2001 by Mark Perensky Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants details technology users (and the impact of their technology use on libraries) by generations. The 2015 OCLC research invites us to think more broadly. It asks us to think of all of our library users on a spectrum as visitors (those who use/think of the Internet as a tool) through residents (those who use/think of the Internet as a place.) Much of this research is shared on a JISC web site (see V&R videos.) More articles detailing the idea of library users as visitors or residents are available on the OCLC research site Digital Visitors and Residents: What Motivates Engagement with the Digital Information Environment?
Things I knew that Ms. Connaway reported users said – email is an old person’s means of communication (how else should we be communicating with our users?) Convenience trumps all. Facebook is a “time vortex.” Wikipedia is the 6th most used web site in the United States. And our undergraduate students often say “I always use Google or ask my [insert parent here] (HINT: father gives you information/mother wants to teach you how to do it.)”
Recommended: If you haven’t seen this one (and who knew OCLC had a YouTube channel?)- Millennials in Transition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARLbm5Qqz04
Take aways from keynote: Establish a relationship, recognize need for convenience, concentrate on graduate students, and take what OCLC has learned and use it locally.
Ideas during first break out session included shared collection development ideas, the growth of collaborative technical services, and the merging of circulation and reference services.
Virtual reference, a discussion we are having at our library, was mentioned often during the day. Lynn Connaway recommended thinking of triggered chat sessions. See this article : Jan H. Kemp, Carolyn L. Ellis, Krisellen Maloney, Standing By to Help: Transforming Online Reference with a Proactive Chat System, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Volume 41, Issue 6, November 2015, Pages 764-770, ISSN 0099-1333, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2015.08.018. See this example of some best practices in virtual reference from UTSA Libraries.
Best practices in Virtual Reference as detailed in the above article:
1) provide help at the time it is needed placing the chat widget on multiple pages and prompting users to ask questions
2) use an “active” method to promote chat, including a positive slogan such as “we want to help you”
3) use a relatively large image for the chat widget along with text to attract attention
4) use a pop up widget to offer help proactively
5) label the chat widget so users know a real librarian (trained professional) will be answering the questions
What’s new, what’s changed with OCLC?
A short history lesson reminded us that OCLC began in 1967, the first catalog card was produced in 1971 and the last catalog card was produced in October 2015. WorldShare is being built to combine all OCLC services on one platform. Eventually all OCLC functions will move to this platform for Resource Sharing, ILL, Cataloguing and Discovery (tools like Connexion and First Search will be phased out eventually.) Priorities for the next year include an investment in technology infrastructure globally and efforts in Linked Data. (See Linked Data for Libraries.) Shared Collection resources like Sustainable Collections Services is something WRLC is invested in early!
New to me: A Bluebook Guide for Law Students; triggered chat popups for proactive virtual reference; request access to WorldShare Discovery for when FirstSearch is finished by Fall 2016.