Presentation by Dr. Joseph Janes
Warmup and overview.
- Likes Canada.
- Tim Horton’s.
- Oxford English Dictionary, Canadian
- Invites applicants for
www.ischool.washington.edu (people who want
to work with young people in particular).
Nancy Pearl teaches there.
- "Theme of the day": How we think about
offering services in a digital world.
- "Lots of users are digital, to one extent or
another as the information environment
continues to evolve along with what people
want to do."
- As reference librarians, do we reach for
books or do we go to the keyboard?
Who have we been serving?
- Users of libraries or just anyone
who wants to read.
- Casual users (drop ins)
- Searchers using traditional tools
(catalogue, databases, reference works).
- Specialized researchers local and otherwise
(i.e. interest in local history, genealogy).
- Writers and creators.
- Make use of libraries quite a lot.
- The whole span, elementary to
What do they need? What do they want out of a
- Even though the internet is a
- Original design of the IPL used
physical metaphors for pages (i.e.
reference desk, exhibit hall, etc.).
Necessary to help designers think
about what to offer in the service.
Who are we talking about?
- Users of:
- Downloadable audio books.
- Bizarre that some audio book
vendors lock books when you
check them out (no
concurrent uses allowed).
- A vendor suggested that a
slew of audio books make
irrelevant (disapproves, of
- Web surfers and casual users (drop-ins).
- Casual users could mean visitors to
a library website.
- Most web pages internal to library
web sites are not designed to be
found by web searches.
- Searchers using:
- Traditional tools (catalogue,
databases, reference works).
- Web search tools (and eventually the
- Web search is changing. Web
search is "hot". Web search
is a big business.
- The invisible web is about
to become less invisible.
Google Scholar is the "first
wedge of the traditional
search world in to the
invisible web". Now search
companies will have to
negotiate with electronic
content providers to compete
with Google. "The search
world is going to look a lot
more like the content
- The new thing in search is
social networking stuff.
structures built by
social book marking
tool is a prominent
- The search companies
believe that one way
to improve the
technology is to
- Gmail becomes a data-mining
tool for Google.
- In the US, email kept beyond
100 days on a server is no
- Specialized researchers (interested in local
history, genealogy, etc.).
- Dedicated blogger community
sometimes called the "blogosphere".
Will either become part of the
conversation or it will fall away.
- "They are a natural constituency for
us [libraries] if they _think_ they
are", but bloggers are not generally
aware of what goes on in the library
world (with the exception of
- Digital object creators (Web, music, movies,
- Are we going to support this kind of
work (i.e. teaching classes on how
to create a blog, a digital
- Distance education students.
- "Our distance system is putting
pressure on very small libraries in
- Some of the above people are the same people
we have always served. Others _would_ make
use of library services, but don't think of
libraries as a means to support their work.
- Dilemma: You have to satisfy people who want
print (generally older people), and people
who want all digital.
What do the increasingly-digital people need?
- Your resources in digital format,
accessible and usable.
- Mentions creative commons as a means
to explicitly specify what you can
do with an object.
- "The scholarly communication model
as we understand is is going to
break." The open access journal
model and institutional repositories
will figure in the ensuing dialogue
over scholarly publishing. When the
model breaks it will fall to
academic librarians to fix it
- Instant answers.
- This is coming in the
internet search world.
- Ask Jeeves is _supposed_ to
do this sort of thing.
- Certain questions in Google
currently retrieve answers
(i.e. "Who is Jane Fonda").
- These will become a common
feature of search engines.
People will not want to
search; they will want to
type a question. This
expectation will affect
- Support in searching, finding,
accessing, using, understanding
evaluating (including, perhaps,
instruction where appropriate).
- Librarians tend to have trouble not
capitalizing and punctuating when
performing chat reference services.
Patrons just want fast answers, not
attractive elegantly phrased
- Connectivity and connection.
- Technology, hardware support, and
- We hate to provide hardware
and software support, but it
is our job as librarians.
After all, what is the
between helping people with
style manuals and helping
people to use email in order
to get things done?
- What about web hosting
services. We provide
carrels for grad and
doctoral students - is this
- Professional advices, guidance,
- Likens reference to doctors,
accountants etc. People
want our professional
advice, but we tend to shy
away from advice and
guidance to avoid bias.
"People just need to be told
what to pay attention to...
Because there's too much,
they get overwhelmed."
- Ubiquity of place and time.
- They want/need to be
supported whenever and
wherever they are doing
- Depth and length are unmet needs.
- Needs and questions go far
deeper than what is
available through Google and
other resources that provide
superficial answers. We
can't compete in the
superficial, but we can
shine when it comes to
providing in-depth answers.
- A place to start.
- i.e. 'I've got to write a
term paper, what do I do'.
- A place to finish.
- A place to continue.
- A place to be (physical and
- We have always provided a place. We
may have to conceptualize it
What do they _want_?
Why don't people ask for help?
- People don't know what we do.
- It's not just us. People don't ask for help
because they don't want to look stupid.
- University student: 'I never thought a
librarian would spend that much time with
me.' Whose fault is it that students don't
What should we do?
- Play up our service orientation
- "When you really need help and it
really matters...ask your
- "Don't just get information...be
- Build tools that help people without direct
- Make sure names of services and tools are
- Examples of commonly used, but
easily misunderstood terms:
citation, catalogue, index database,
- Examples of understandable versus
cryptic: 'Four new ways to build
your business' versus 'Four new
business information databases'.
- Provide lots of links to library services in
places where they will probably be used.
- Is there a link to the reference
service on the front page of the
- Position ourselves and our services as time
- "Google's fast, but we can save you
time". People who know how to
search Google don't need us, but
those who spend hours on Google do
need us. "Why search when we can
help you find?"
- The median time to find a
satisfactory answer via a search
engine is about 11 minutes. That's
a _long_ time. If we are in their
minds as a place where they can go
when it is not working on their own,
then they will come to us.
- Decide what kinds of things we are best
suited for (and by implication, what we
are not suited for).
- If we think of search, collection
development, reader's advisory,
education, etc. as the paradigm of
reference we will get stuck there.
Throws out the word _mediation_.
- Show people how to be found on the internet.
People who are building businesses, writing
blogs, etc. People want to be found because
they want to tell their story.
- Tech support. It's "just part of the deal".
- Production and packaging.
- "I think marketing is reference work"
because if they don't know that you are
doing it you can't help them. Marketing is
seen by librarians as "beneath us" (this
needs to change). Some libraries even do
bus and radio ads, choice of four different
colours of library cards.
- Web design and tool building.
- Libraries used to be tied to a physical
place. Concept of library is now expanding
to "where is was always meant to be". When
people are searching the catalogue or using
the library home page they are "in the
library". A Minnesota library system staffs
their website like a branch (likes this).
The concept of a library was always bigger
than the building - it is now "finally
Do we want to do this stuff?
- Can we afford to?
- Funds will have to be reallocated. Ready
reference can be cut back since Google is
now filling this role. There are a lot of
libraries on the web that say they are there
to answer quick factual questions, but "I
think it's time to say goodbye to ready
reference". "I think we should focus on
what we can do better then anyone else."
Ready reference is already going (we are
getting fewer and harder questions).
Spending longer amounts of time with people
on difficult question provides an
opportunity to make a significant impression
- We are the most important profession in the
world because other professions could not
exist without us. We (humans) need to tell
our stories. We (librarians) facilitate the
telling of those stories, and this allows us
to better ourselves individually and
- When people have an information need we have
to be there so they can get at us. "If we
are central to the information lives of our
communities, they will come to us when it
- Q: Audience member notes the tension between
the old guard and newer librarians in the
academic library where she works.
- A: Identifies with old guard: "What I got in
to this to do has been taken out from
underneath of me". If librarians got in to
the profession to help people and
communities, they can be advocates and
ambassadors for new ways of providing
service. If they got in to this as a place
to hide, to cuddle a book, then they have to
go. Notes that some reference librarians
who were surly at the desk are excellent at
- Q: What about faculty who challenge the
provision of BI in classes?
- A: Figure out a way to say nicely that these
students are going to forget what you teach
them but they will use bi skills for the
rest of their lives. "I can make your life
better" is the siren song of librarianship -
people need to hear this.
- Q: How is a 21 day loan period enforced for
downloadable audio books?
- A: Digital rights management software is
downloaded along with audio file.
- Q: Please provide examples of libraries that
are changing management structure to make
these sorts of changes possible.
- A: A Seattle library has a more distributed
service model. Everybody helps with
everything (no specialization?). They carry
wireless devices including phones to network
with other librarians, etc. Some people
hate it, and some people love it. Orange
county does something similar. Staff has
wireless PDA's with catalogue on it. The
distributed service model is the "next
- Q: Please elaborate on the failure of
- A: "I think we are still largely in an
experimental phase with that". Some
services are not launched with clear
expectations, and means for defining
success. There are good and bad virtual
reference services. The term "digital"
makes it look like a different thing than
"ordinary" reference, but different modes
of reference should be marketed as a single
--Notes by Charles Dunham