Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) Volume 20, Number 3, September 2001

Table of Contents

Guest Editorial

Virtual Reference, Today and Tomorrow
KAREN CICCONE

Feature Articles

Virtual Reference at the NCSU Libraries: The First One Hundred Days
JOSHUA BOYER

Going Where the Users Are: Live Digital Reference
SAM STORMONT

Online Library Instruction for Online Students
RACHEL VIGGIANO AND MEREDITH AULT

From Sshh to Search Engine: Reference.net on the World Wide Web
DIANE NESTER KRESH

Roles in Digital Reference
MICHAEL McCLENNEN AND PATRICIA MEMMOTT

We'll Take It from Here: Further Developments We'd Like to See in Virtual Reference Software
STEVEN COFFMAN

Communications

Using Macromedia Authorware for Web-Based Instruction
KEVIN F. CULLEN

Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Software Reviews

Software Reviews

Index to Advertisers

Axonix

Info USA

Library Technologies, Inc.


Guest Editorial p.120-121

   Virtual Reference, Today and Tomorrow
KAREN CICCONE

Editor's note: The full text of this editorial is available. 


Feature Articles

   Virtual Reference at the NCSU Libraries: The First One Hundred Days (p.122-128)
JOSHUA BOYER

North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries launched an online chat reference service in January using Library Systems and Services LLC's (LSSI) Virtual Reference Desk. Traffic has been modest but significant (four chat sessions per day). Staff have responded to the service with interest and excitement as well as confusion and doubts. Future directions for the service include improving librarians' abilities to work in this new medium and extending the hours of the service. The author concludes by arguing that libraries must strive to create Web environments in which answers to the most frequently asked questions are easy for patrons to find without having to contact the reference desk.

Editor's note: The full text of this article is available.

Joshua Boyer ( josh_boyer@ncsu.edu) is Reference Librarian for Distance Learning at North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh.


   Going Where the Users Are: Live Digital Reference (p.129-134)
SAM STORMONT

This paper describes the development of the Temple University libraries' live digital reference service and discusses the process of creating a new way for users to pose questions. Staffing, digital transactions, promotion, systems support, software options, and funding are explored. The creation of customized software in-house is considered with emphasis on advantages and disadvantages. Staffing challenges are outlined. Variables that influence success are discussed and include management and staff support as well as a recognition that to prosper, we must find creative ways to provide reference service to our users, wherever they are.

Sam Stormont ( stormont@temple.edu) is a Digital Reference Services Coordinator and Communications Subject Specialist at Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia.



   Online Library Instruction for Online Students (p. 135-138)
RACHEL VIGGIANO AND MEREDITH AULT

As part of their efforts to provide library services to distance learners, the Florida Distance Learning Reference and Referral Center (RRC) librarians offer real-time online library instruction using a chat room as a virtual classroom. RRC librarians share their experiences with online instruction, pointing out some considerations that should be made when preparing an online library workshop, and some of the challenges that they have faced in their endeavor.

Rachel G. Viggiano ( viggiano@lib.usf.edu) is Distance Learning Librarian at the Florida Distance Learning Reference and Referral Center in Tampa, Florida, and Meredith Ault ( mault@utsystem.edu) is TeleCampus Librarian at the University of Texas TeleCampus System.


   From Sshh to Search Engine: Reference.net on the World Wide Web (p.139-142)
DIANE NESTER KRESH

The explosion of information and the popularity of the Internet and commercial search engines has required librarians to look afresh at their profession. With the overwhelming amount of information now available have come new demands and expectations. The need to bring information to the remote user has encouraged the creation of many innovative services linking new technology with traditional library services. How do librarians build on their age-old status as trusted advisors and create services that will both meet demand and revitalize the profession? How do we take the reference desk to cyberspace? The Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS) launched by the Library of Congress and partner libraries is one such response. CDRS provides professional reference service to users anytime anywhere through an international digital network of libraries. This article explores how CDRS began and what lies ahead for this and other innovative e-reference services.

Diane Nester Kresh ( dkre@loc.gov) is Director for Public Service Collections, Library of Congress, and Director of the Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS).


   Roles in Digital Reference (p.143-148)
MICHAEL McCLENNEN AND PATRICIA MEMMOTT

Over the course of the past five years, researchers and practitioners have demonstrated that digital reference services can indeed work well and have developed much of the necessary technology. The next step we must take is to figure out how to optimize the design and operation of our services. A useful step in this direction is the development of consensus models that describe the digital reference process. The authors have developed a model that describes the various roles played by participants in this process and the ways in which those roles interact. This model is illustrated by several case studies: the Internet Public Library, the Saskatchewan Provincial Library, and the Virtual Reference Desk network. The authors hope that the model will facilitate further research by providing a framework and terminology for discussion about the digital reference process. Furthermore, it may be useful to practitioners in the field who are engaged in designing and evaluating policies and procedures for digital reference.

Editor's note: The full text of this article is available.

Michael McClennen ( michaelm@umich.edu) is the Head of Systems for the Internet Public Library. Patricia Memmott ( pmemmott@umich.edu) is the Reference Coordinator for the Internet Public Library.


   We'll Take It from Here: Further Developments We'd Like to See in Virtual Reference Software (p. 149-153)
STEVEN COFFMAN

Virtual reference services-providing patrons with live, real-time reference over the Web-have suddenly become a very popular topic in the library community. Any conference program with "virtual reference" or "digital reference" or "24/7" or any of the variety of other euphemisms we use for live, online reference on the Web, is guaranteed to be packed. New electronic discussion lists and discussion groups are popping up like mushrooms. The first articles on the subject have already appeared in American Libraries and Library Journal, and dozens more are being churned out as we speak. But even more telling are the numbers of libraries that have actually begun to implement it. In September 1999, there were no more than five libraries that had implemented any kind of live virtual reference service, or that even knew what it was. Today, less than eighteen months later, there are over two hundred libraries from all over the world that have started offering live online reference in one guise or another, and more are joining the fray everyday.

Editor's note: The full text of this article is available.

Steve Coffman ( coffmanfyi@earthlink.net) is Product Development Manager, Virtual Reference Services, at Library Systems and Services, LLC (LSSI).


Communications

   Using Macromedia Authorware for Web-Based Instruction (p. 154-158)
KEVIN F. CULLEN

Macromedia Authorware is a tool for creating computer-based instruction programs which are more interactive than standard Web pages. Authorware has been extended to allow Web delivery of programs created with it, but there is little literature regarding use of Authorware's Web features. The Colorado State University (CSU) Libraries have created a media-rich library skills tutorial using Authorware and have learned enough to evaluate its potential for Web delivery.

Kevin F. Cullen is the Digital Projects Librarian at Colorado State University.


Book Review (p. 159-161)

   Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity by Jakob Nielsen.
Indianapolis: New Riders, 2000. 419p. $45 (ISBN 1-562-05810-X).

Editor's note: The full text of this review is available. 


Software Reviews (p.162-165)

   This month we'll take a look at a variety of graphics programs. Good-quality commercial graphics software is often expensive. One quality common to all the products reviewed is that they are free, making them affordable no matter what your budget. There are trade-offs, however. These programs don't come with printed manuals or technical support, though they do come with online help or read-me files. Fortunately, most of these graphics programs are simple enough to use that a manual won't be missed.

Editor's note: The full text of these reviews is available.