Session: 9:05-9:55a (PST)
Trust me: Collaborative Chat Training for Uncertain Times
(Lansing Community College Library and Michigan State University Libraries)
Libraries have long engaged in collaborative services to save time and money through shared resources (both human and material!) Virtual (chat) reference is no different - a common component of several statewide library ecosystems, chat allows libraries to shoulder more or less reference as their staffing allows. This service has taken on even more importance now that many libraries are relying solely on chat reference to offer research help.
With shared resources, libraries can contractually come together - legal agreements that cover finances (who pays what). In chat collaboratives, this is the same - we are in contract with Springshare for hours we cover to Academic Global and how much we pay into the service. What remains undefined, however, is how much trust each library puts into the system. We can assume some base level of trust or libraries won’t join but at the front line, for the library personnel staffing the service, how much do THEY trust the system? How can we engender trust that the collaborative works and that patrons are receiving help regardless of whom answers?
Participants in the session will engage in hands-on training designed to help librarians who staff collaborative chat reference services both provide high quality service to patrons from other libraries and trust other librarians to do the same. Librarians staffing chat will be encouraged not to take on more chat questions at once than they are comfortable with, but instead to let questions from their patrons roll on up to the collaborative.
Reimagining face-to-face reference service with Zoom – A case study in two academic libraries
(Wayne State University Library System and Eastern Michigan University Library)
Responses to participant questions from “Reimagining face-to-face reference service with Zoom – A case study in two academic libraries”
Face-to-face reference is an integral part of library services, so what happens when face-to-face is no longer safe? The Covid-19 pandemic spurred two academic libraries to experiment with providing face-to-face, drop-in reference service over Zoom. This service has had unexpected successes and will likely impact the way we approach offering reference services in the future, beyond the pandemic. Presenters from two libraries that discontinued in-person reference services will discuss why and how we have offered drop-in reference over Zoom as part of our array of remote reference services. Motivations for piloting Zoom drop-in reference included a desire to connect with users in the library building while librarians worked remotely, providing an opportunity for spontaneous reference that was more personal than chat, and the functionality of Zoom. We will explore technical considerations and the different choices made at each library, as well as how the service was branded and marketed to users. Data on the types of reference transactions, insight into librarians’ experiences, and feedback from users will be explored in describing our services. Adding drop-in Zoom reference has been an adaptive process that we continue to explore and adjust.
Screen Time: Adding Screen Sharing to your Virtual Reference Service
Although virtual reference services have become ubiquitous in academic libraries in the past decade, the use of screen sharing in virtual reference interactions remains unexplored. Few studies have discussed the technology available to librarians in virtual reference platforms to provide assistance via screen sharing. Previous research has primarily focused on the use of recorded screen casts in virtual reference.
This year, with the closure of many physical reference desks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual reference librarians have had to adapt in order to optimize their chat and texting services. At a large Canadian University, a screen sharing technology was piloted in the virtual reference platform. Using Zoom via the LibAnswers platform, librarians engaged in screen sharing to demonstrate various steps in the research process.
The presentation will report on the pilot project, as well as an accompanying study on the uses of screen sharing, the advantages and disadvantages, and possible barriers, while also exploring the habits of librarians related to screen sharing during virtual reference versus consultations. Best practices for the uses of screen sharing in virtual reference will also be shared.
Attendees at this session will learn:
How to implement screen sharing during virtual reference interactions
Why librarians choose to use or not use screen sharing during a virtual reference interaction
How to assess whether screen sharing in a virtual reference setting is appropriate
Agility and Trust: Adapting DEI Values to the Rapidly Changing Times
(University of Colorado Denver / Eastern Illinois University)
“In these uncertain times…” How often have we heard these words in the past year? Librarians, and our colleagues across higher education, have to be able to adapt strategies for supporting and teaching students and faculty on a moment’s notice. We want to enable our librarians to respond as quickly as needed, in ways aligned with our libraries’ values. We suggest creating a flexible action plan that highlights these values and guides our colleagues to thoughtfully convert them into action. Implementing such a plan can ensure that, in times of rapid change, all employees act with shared values in mind. For example, it may highlight the importance of designing plans based on principles of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and universal accessibility. By taking these steps, we can foster greater trust between administrators and librarians who act on their own judgment -- in terms of action and support for each other.
The presenters, both administrators and experienced reference and instruction librarians, share a three-tiered strategy for creating strategy at point of need. The tiers are:
Foundational: Understanding the new situation and taking time to learn background on the issues at hand
Intermediate: Creating a short-term action plan to support patrons
Critical: Creating a longer-term plan, reflecting on success of steps up to this point, and adapting policies and practices
The presenters will discuss these tiers in the context of work they have conducted over the past three years, as well as the present pandemic situation.
"Zach Newell is the dean of Library Services at Booth Library, Eastern Illinois University. In addition to his regular duties as administrator of an academic library, Newell has coordinated fundraising and management for the creation of the Center for Student Innovation within Booth Library, a transformative hub for teaching learning and collaboration. The CSI includes a design lab and active learning classroom. He also has led efforts to establish a Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the library to discuss ways to meet the needs of the library’s underserved population.
Dr. Karen Sobel is an Associate Professor and Teaching & Learning Librarian at the University of Colorado Denver. She also directs the University’s Center for Faculty Development & Advancement. She holds a Doctor of Education from the University of Colorado Denver, and Master’s degrees in Library and Information Science and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on student motivations for use of information literacy skills, and applications of critical pedagogy in the academic library."
Providing Virtual Reference Services in a Community College Library: Convenient Before, Crucial Now
(Delaware County Community College)
Most discussions or studies related to virtual reference services in academic libraries focus on four-year colleges and universities rather than community colleges. This lightning talk will briefly review the evolution and current state of virtual reference services (especially since the pandemic) at a community college library located in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Delaware County Community College (DCCC) Library Services has participated in virtual chat reference for almost 15 years. The presenter has served as DCCC’s chat reference coordinator since the inception of this service. By joining a statewide virtual reference cooperative and subsequently adding an in-house service, DCCC Library Services has provided an effective, two-tiered 24/7 chat reference service even before the pandemic. However, DCCC Library Services has faced challenges related to its virtual reference service. During this talk the presenter will discuss these issues including staffing, fluctuating statistics, and maintaining administrative support especially during challenging institutional changes. She will also discuss marketing and the transformation of this service in response to Covid-19. Despite varying usage and declining numbers in reference statistics before the pandemic, virtual reference at DCCC has endured as an essential service that supports academic achievement and student success. This talk will demonstrate why it remains important that community college libraries offer and promote virtual reference services especially as they continue to address the challenges of Covid-19.
Dr. Erica Swenson Danowitz (she/her/hers) is a Professor & Reference Librarian at Delaware County Community College (DCCC) located in Media, PA. She has a B.A. from Cornell University, a Master’s degree in French from the Pennsylvania State University, an M.L.S. from the University of Maryland, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University.
Building Something out of Nothing: Creating a Virtual Reference Point during a Pandemic
(University of Tennessee Chattanooga)
The Studio at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Library is a digital media lab that supports students and faculty in creating digital media. Since its inception in 2015 the Studio has been a primarily in-person service point, and has been considered a destination on campus and in the Library. The Studio provides equipment, software, and assistance for creating digital media projects including videos, music, podcasts, digital art, and 3D models. Like so many other academic library units, the Studio spent the summer of 2020 preparing for a mostly-online fall semester. Unlike many other service points, the Studio had to create a virtual reference model from almost nothing.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the campus closures that it caused, the Studio provided minor virtual reference support, mainly by answering directional questions over chat. In preparation for the fall 2020 semester, we needed to find ways to offer reference virtually. We were lucky enough to have a blank canvas on which to draw our plan, but also faced the challenge of creating a virtual reference model from scratch. Not only did the Studio team need to figure out how to provide remote support for software including Adobe Creative Cloud, other editing software like Camtasia, Logic, and Audacity, and 3D modeling software including SketchUp, AutoDesk, and SolidWorks, we also needed to create a service model on how to provide that support.
This presentation will explore the methods through which Studio team members created a virtual reference point where none existed before. We will discuss our expectations, our experiences, and the reality of the University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s virtual reference needs. We will examine what worked about our virtual reference model, what did not work, and what other digital media labs and makerspaces in academic libraries can learn about building a virtual reference service point.
Creating Instructional videos: a lesson in resilience and adaptability
(Carleton University Library)
This is a story of how Carleton University Library adapted quickly with new policies, procedures and templates to create instructional videos. The library has a long history of making instructional videos to supplement information literacy instructions and to provide support to our users. In the last 10 years staff created numerous videos and posted them into the library’s YouTube channel in order to support a combination of synchronous and asynchronous library instructions. Unfortunately, throughout the years we found it challenging to promote and organize the content. In addition, there were no clear policies and procedures in place on how to create and manage the videos. Moreover, resources were not well organized and clearly tagged for our users to discover them easily. At the beginning of fall 2019 term we were considering removing all the videos and changing the way information has been stored and promoted. In addition, only a few individuals from the department were still creating new content and using it in their library instructional sessions or posting within online library guides. Quick review of scholarly literature revealed that many academic institutions were following in the similar path as ours.
The new reality of the global pandemic forced us to review our policies and change pedagogical approach to using videos while delivering information literacy instructions to our users via online mediums. Staff from the Research Support Services (RSS) department came up with a new approach to making and distributing videos to our users. Library staff reviewed current and emerging technologies and evaluated best practices used to develop instructional videos. We used Kaltura software to make videos and embed them into the CuLearn (class management system). Online repository was created where we shared our work as a group and collaborated on the content. We increased the amount of videos, content quality and promotion to ensure our users received the needed support while researching during a rapidly changing research environment. We are looking into developing a better video management system that would streamline production and maintenance of videos. We are looking into continuing our journey by setting up some customizations such as; special templating, file naming, description and controlled taxonomy in order for content to be more discoverable, easier to linked into library guides, presentations and any point of need.
"Aleksandra Blake is a subject specialist in Research Support Services at the Carleton University Library, providing research support in areas of Political Science, International Affairs, Political Economy and European and Russian Studies. Her research interests include information literacy, accessibility of government information and qualitative research.
Sherri Sunstrum is a subject specialist in Research Support Services at the Carleton University Library, providing research support in areas of Earth Sciences and Geomatics. She is a Carleton graduate with interest in maps and cartography and their use in information literacy and library instruction."
Trivia, Alliances, & Polls: Reimagining Virtual Outreach and Student Engagement
(University of North Texas)
Graduate Services Assistants working at the University of North Texas Libraries, under the supervision of the Student Engagement Librarian, quickly transitioned all in-person reference services to virtual in March 2020, including launching a new live chat service. The goal of the outreach team was to promote these virtual reference services as well as outreach to students alienated from the library due to the sudden distance. Without the ability to rely on tried-and-true in-person methods such as tabling, the team needed to be adaptable and creative.
Utilizing virtual tools such as LibWizard’s quiz feature and Zoom’s video conferencing technology, several outreach events were planned. Zoom was used primarily for virtual workshops, while LibWizard was used to create a Banned Books Week trivia quiz, a fun way to promote the virtual reference service and the work libraries do to ensure equitable access to information. Additionally, with the team being made up of Library and Information Science graduate students working for the library, emphasis was placed on partnering with Subject Librarians to utilize their expertise during Zoom workshops while allowing them a new platform to promote their services.
Lastly, a series of interactive social media posts aimed to engage students and increase awareness of an upcoming virtual workshop, which focused on teaching research/information literacy skills and promoting virtual reference services. With each Twitter post or Instagram story, viewers interacted through polls and were then encouraged to register for the upcoming event. Items from the library’s digital collections were used in these polls, simultaneously promoting library materials and the virtual workshop. These workshops and social media stories allowed students to interact with the libraries in a less formal manner and to meet subject librarians outside their field of study. Future plans include further collaboration on Zoom workshops, continued social media promotion, and creation of instructional videos.