Video IM – The Next Step in Virtual Reference (Cyber Zed Shed)

It's always nice to see a member of the family present at a national conference. Char Booth from Ohio University presented on a video reference service that is currently being prototyped in Athens. Char has posted her presentation on-line. You can also listen (MP3 deep link) to an interview with her courtesy PALINET

The reference team installed a web camera and chat software on a computer on an upper floor of the library. The team hoped to be able to help people on the upper floors so they didn't have to make the trek down to the reference desk. Four video chat clients were tested: Trillian Pro, Windows Live Messenger, Skype, and iChat. Skype was chosen as the preferred client. Future plans include adding video IM as an option on their Ask a Librarian page and installing a walk up video IM kiosk in the newly built student center.

I think video virtual reference is a very cool idea. It may be a challenge to implement at a small academic library based on staffing levels. I do think that video IM would be a good tool for consortial work. 

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Make You Services Smarter: How Smartphones Extend Your Services (Cyber Zed Shed)

Michelle Jacobs from UC Merced shared her use of a smart phone to provide service to students and faculty. She is able to search the catalog, databases, and answer questions via instant message. Her smart phone is Bluetooth enabled and she purchased an external keyboard to make typing easier. She recommended looking at CNet for smart phone reviews

Michelle told us about answering a reference question during the conference using the internet browsing and IM features of her smart phone. This anecdote was rehashed at the beginning of the April 20 Chronicle article (subscribers) describing the reference panel session

PALINET has posted an interviewer with Michelle (MP3 deep link).

I'm interested in trying this out, but may wait since EVDO has not been rolled out locally. I do think this makes a lot of sense. I could have used something like this multiple times this semester when I was working with a student in the stacks or visiting with a faculty member outside of the library (and not near a computer).   

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36% of Adult Americans Use Wikipedia

The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a new research report today on Wikipedia's popularity (complete PDF).

You are more likely to use Wikipedia if you are male (39%), 18-29 (44%), a college graduate (50%), or make more than $75,000 a year (42%). Wikipedia has 24% share of traffic of the top 20 educational web sites. Google Scholar comes in at number 6, Google Book Search at number 7, and the National Library of Medicine (I guess PubMed) at number 9.

I don't think we're doing a good job promoting the electronic library resources available at the state level, like the Ohio Web Library. Anyone in Ohio with a public library card can get instant access to a bunch of EBSCO databases, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and a lot more.

As easy as that is to say, we all know what the real issue is though. The reason Wikipedia gets so much use is due to the fact that it is dead simple to discover via search. The Pew report points out that Wikipedia articles have a high number of in bound links. Therefore, they display near the top of Google results thanks to the PageRank algorithm.