Tag Archives: reference

6 Ways to be More Efficient with Your Virtual Reference Services

Text a Librarian Tips from Mosio | Virtual Reference Chat Widget

Virtual references services can broaden the scope of library services, and help you to reach new patrons, but one of the keys to a successful virtual reference program is efficiency.

1. Create a FAQ for you and for patrons. A FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list is a helpful resource for any library website that both benefits patron service and saves staff time. Patrons can answer their own questions quickly without aid of a staff member, staff can direct patrons directly to the appropriate question and answer, or staff can use the FAQ to help answer the questions themselves.

2. Have devoted time blocks for staff members for virtual reference. Virtual reference services should provide patrons with the same quality service as traditional service. If staff members are multi-tasking or prone to interruption while performing virtual reference, it may impede the quality of service. If you can’t set aside blocks of devoted time, or it doesn’t make sense given your virtual reference traffic, have staff working on projects that are easily interrupted and set aside.

3. Select your virtual reference tool wisely. Do your research before selecting a tool for your virtual reference services. You want a tool that can handle the virtual reference traffic efficiently, and you don’t want staff having to troubleshoot technical glitches while providing service.

4. Keep virtual reference limited to ready reference. Virtual reference services should be limited to questions that can be answered quickly and easily. For questions that require more extensive research, request the patron’s contact information.

5. Keep key reference sources at your fingertips. Create a set of shared bookmarks for online resources so staff can refer to them easily and quickly. If there are books that are frequently used to answer reference questions, have staff keep those on hand while engaging in virtual reference.

6. Consider Collaboration. Many libraries collaborate with other libraries on virtual reference service. This can be done through organization with an established consortium, or by reaching out to peer institutions.

7 Things Library Customers Want NOW | Customer Service and Library Patrons

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7 Things Library Customers Want NOW

What attracts library customers to today’s libraries? The rise of mobile culture and the smart phone society brings a dynamic shift in expectations about how, when, and where to access information. Endless media streams, interactive news feeds, and autonomous research options provide numerous avenues for information-seeking customers. What factors draw their attention to the library, rather than a crowdsourced data channel, commercial service, or search engine?

1.    Convenience. Mobile customers use text messaging constantly and carry on multiple conversations concurrently. Libraries offering SMS services to manage reference, information, or patron relationships fit seamlessly into to this information exchange and can interact directly with the customers at the point of need.

2.    Community. Libraries serve an essential role as a leading provider of educational programs, local events, after school and family activities, and employment and business resource centers. Announcements, notifications, mailing lists, newsletters, and social media are effective options for community interaction, library marketing, and advocacy.

3.    Immediacy. Libraries partner with other libraries around the city, county, state, and country, and make use of these established networks to connect readers and researchers with necessary information. From integrated request systems to on-site kiosks, libraries support patron self-service, both inside and outside of library buildings.

4.    Accuracy. Librarians deliver experienced, trained, and intuitive support to readers and researchers seeking specific content. Rich collections are enhanced by a curator’s historical knowledge, detailed research questions are handled by subject specialists, and so on. Library services delivered via IM (instant messaging), allow librarians to handle complete questions while providing direct access to supporting documentation and online resources.

5.    Customization. Once accurate content is identified, librarians provide expertise, synthesis, analysis, feedback, and references, without bias, in the context of the inquiry.

6.    Privacy. Libraries’ privacy practices are published and non-negotiable: private records are not made public, sold to advertisers, or shared with other agencies.

7.    Service. Regular library users recognize the value of direct support, local context, and personal attention. These strengths, built and enhanced through patron relationships, set outstanding libraries apart from the competition.

About the Author
Lisa Carlucci Thomas is the Director and Founder of Design Think Do, providing innovation and technology consulting to libraries, publishers, and information partners. Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisacarlucci

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