Posted by: sharonlis768 | October 16, 2007

IM Experience

I contacted the Arlington Public Library, Arlington, Virginia for my IM interview.  I ended up talking with two different librarians who spent a lot of time with me and were very informative.


From the start, I was impressed with this library’s website and information that they supplied about how to Instant Message.  I think it is great when a library recognizes that some patrons aren’t necessarily tech-savvy, but interested in learning about Web 2.0 tools like IM.  Arlington Library has been running their IM service since April 2006.  We had a pleasant IM conversation even though it got a little disjointed at times.  I waited only a minute before they connected with me, and after introducing myself and purpose for IMing the following is some of our IM session held on Monday morning, Oct. 15:


whatscooking123: Do you answer IMs from the ref desk or a back office

iqueryarlib: We answer them from the reference desk

whatscooking123: Do you think it is hard juggling face to face patrons, phone calls and IM

iqueryarlib: Yes. It is a bit more difficult with IM than phone, because it isn’t obvious to the in-person patrons that I am having a conversation.

whatscooking123: How do you think patrons like IM

iqueryarlib: The people that have tried it, seem to like it. I’ve gotten comments that it is convenient and “really cool”

whatscooking123: Do you have a separate address or librarian to answer youth services IMs and adult IMs

iqueryarlib: different responder here…  at the present time, we are only advertising the one IM address

iqueryarlib: our YS staff has created accounts but haven’t decided if they are going to offer the service or not

whatscooking123: How do you publicize your IM service–(I really like all the information on your website)

iqueryarlib: The web pages are our main method of publicizing though in early summer, we had postcard size announcements printed

iqueryarlib: those were distributed at coffee shops, the one or two Internet cafes in the area, bookstores, etc

iqueryarlib: we saw a jump in usage after those cards were distributed

whatscooking123: If you are busy with another patron, is there an automatic message that pops up letting the IM patron know

iqueryarlib: No – we do not have any kind of auto message re busy

iqueryarlib: Its rare that we have more than one IM going at a time

whatscooking123: Who initiated the IM service at your library-admin or staff

iqueryarlib: was basically staff driven – scanning the landscape, seeing what others were doing, etc and then moving towards implementing IM

iqueryarlib: We had looked at QuestionPoint back in 2002-03

iqueryarlib: It was suppose to be offered with backing of LIbrary of VA – that fell through and it was too expensive for us to go alone

iqueryarlib: We started looking again in summer 2005 – looked at the commercial services and also web based IM

iqueryarlib: Attended a conference or two, talked w/others, and then decided free IM was way to go

whatscooking123:  Did you have any staff training

iqueryarlib: We trained staff – started off using it internally to build comfort level and went  live about two months later

whatscooking123: Is staff comfortable with it

iqueryarlib: we are currently using Trillian – all staff internal use it w/Yahoo ids

whatscooking123: That’s interesting about internal use

iqueryarlib: Comfort level has grown immensely though we still have a luddite or two who can’t see any reason for it

iqueryarlib: We use it within our unit and also within the system

whatscooking123: How do you evaluate the service?

iqueryarlib: Transcripts are printed out at the end of each month AFTER all identifying patron info has been stripped

iqueryarlib: Statistics are gathered from that – # of contacts, service used, type of question, successful or not, response time, session lenght

whatscooking123: Wow

iqueryarlib: Transcripts are also review in terms of service and ocassionally used for staff training

whatscooking123: Sounds like a very well designed and evaluated service

whatscooking123: You’ve been very helpful and I appreciate all of your time

iqueryarlib: Well, I came along and took over – so two of us have been helpful…

whatscooking123: Thanks to both of you

iqueryarlib: I was one of the instigators – you can im me direct at if you need any additional

iqueryarlib: I note you had asked about usage rates

whatscooking123: Yes

whatscooking123: Since this is for school the more info the better

iqueryarlib: We started off about 30 a month…  the postcards jumped us up to 60 or so for a month or two

iqueryarlib: Then its fallen off to the low 40s

iqueryarlib: Hitting the 60s appeared to be high

iqueryarlib: u have any classes w/Michael Stevens?

whatscooking123: He is my teacher now

iqueryarlib: I’ve heard him speak several times and read his blog “Tame the Web”

iqueryarlib: so methinks you might learn something from him…

whatscooking123: He knows his stuff

iqueryarlib: Okay – signing off from Arlington Public…  Thanks for contacting us. 

whatscooking123: Thanks.  Bye

iqueryarlib: If you need anything else, contact me direct or IM us again

iqueryarlib: sk


Posted by: sharonlis768 | October 3, 2007

Thoughts on Maricopa

It’s exciting to read about experiments in library materials organization like the one at the Perry branch of the Maricopa County library system.  At least it shows that librarians are taking opportunities to explore new ways to provide better patron service.  Discarding Dewey in favor of bookstore organization seems like a user-friendly plan.  After all, customers appear to be happy when browsing in bookstores using BISAC headings in their signage. But when customers “browse” in bookstores, there is a good possibility that they will be equally happy finding any of many options available.  I can see how browsing in a small library, like the Perry branch, might work fine.  But there’s no reason why library users can’t browse in library stacks organized by Dewey numbers, especially if there is some decent signage along the way.  My biggest concern is for the times when a patron is not browsing, but looking for something specific.  I think this is when bookstore organization will fall short.  A lot of people are in a hurry.  They’re not browsing.  Organizing books with Dewey so that they can be found efficiently and utilized effectively is a more important function for libraries than trying to make collections browseable like bookstores.    

 Wow.  Looking at the online catalog for Phoenix Public Library makes me realize that since taking LIS 703 two years ago I’ve paid little attention to the debates/discussions about NextGen Catalogs.  I’m impressed with how user-friendly this catalog looks.  However, no matter how perfect we think a catalog system is, there will always be library users who need our help navigating it. 

Posted by: sharonlis768 | September 26, 2007

A tasty virtual community

My experience with virtual communities has been limited, but I have participated some on a website called “Epicurious–for people who love to eat.”  At people who love to cook can find great recipes, mostly ones that have appeared in Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines.  (This site is one of CondeNet’s lifestyle-oriented websites based on some of Conde Nast’s magazines.)  What I like most about this website is that fellow cooks give reviews of recipes on the website that they have tried.  The shared comments can turn out to be as important as the original recipe.  If a recipe has a 4-fork rating, you can trust that it will be pretty good.  Over the years, I have added some comments as I tried some of the recipes.   But truthfully, I’ve never gotten overly involved in this website.  Now that I’ve looked at it more closely, I see that there are forums for chatting on all kinds of food/cooking/beverage/restaurant topics.  I’ve discovered that there is an epicurious blog.  I found a great discussion on recipes in the current issues of Bon Appetit and Gourmet.  I think I’ve made a dangerous discovery—this website will be calling when unfortunately I don’t have a lot of free time to read and participate.

One thing that really struck me as I look at Epicurious now, is how helpful a site like this can be to the originators of the content.  In my previous career, I was in the food profession and developed recipes for many Chicago food companies.  These recipes appeared in print ads, on product labels, and in cookbooks.  Rarely was I able to get any feedback from consumers who had made them.  I know that the food professionals in the test kitchens of Bon Appetit and Gourmet are getting a lot of practical information from the virtual community on Epicurious.  As for the social aspect of this community–I will have to get more involved during the semester to see how I feel about that. 

Posted by: sharonlis768 | September 13, 2007

Introduction to the author of my blog

Hi!  My name is Sharon and this is my first “real” blog.  I say “real” because I’ve created other blogs for the purpose of creating a blog, but never for the purpose of actually blogging.  This class, LIS 768, will be my first experience with really blogging.

I work at the Barrington Area Library as an Assistant Librarian in the Adult Services Department.  I work on the reference desk, as well as the popular materials desk where we do readers’ and audio-visual advisory. 

The administration at our library is very interested in Library 2.0.  A blog was used last summer for our young adult reading program.   It was pretty successful for a first try.  We are in the process of establishing a Wiki community calander.   I don’t know much about how either of these were set up, but I expect by the end of LIS 768, I will.

What I hope to get out of LIS 768 is not just the technical experience of how to use the current Web 2.0 tools, but a better appreciation for their use and what all they mean for the future of libraries.  I’m a baby boomer and a bit of a skeptic and tend not to be as naturally excited about all of this technology. 

Posted by: sharonlis768 | September 13, 2007

Hello World

This is my new LIS 768 Blog at Dominican University.

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