This blog was originally created for a library and information science course on collection development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with my reactions to the weekly readings. I hope to expand this blog in the future.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trendy Topics

This week I attended the Trendy Topics events Digital Reference: An Online Conference by TAP Information Services. I gave an online presentation, which was interesting because it was my first one. Maybe I'll get better in time...

All of the presenters were excellent, including Lori Bell and Alison Miller, my colleagues at My InfoQuest. I really liked Rose Chenowith's presentation "Virtual Valor: Handling Problem Behavior Online." Her topic is a reminder that librarians face many of the same problem situations online as they do in the "real world." Even though it's a different setting librarians must remember to use the same steps in the reference interview (approachibility, probing and follow-up questions, etc.) It's important NOT TO USE JARGON. I try to take all these things into account when I'm answering questions at My InfoQuest.

Unfortunately the problem behavior librarians face in public are often faced online. However, I think I'd rather deal with problem situations on the computer than with the person directly in front of me. Chenowith raised a good point that librarians can check what went wrong (or right) with the chat transcripts and see what they could have handled differently. I think that's one advantage chat reference has over live reference- you have documentation that can't be disputed. Knowing how to handle these problem behaviors is crucial to having a successful online reference service. I think it's important to set guidelines from the beginning so there's no confusion in bad situations.