26th Annual Reference Research Forum

2020 ALA Virtual Conference

Reaching Potential Users Through Proactive Chat
Presenters: Laura Costello, Rutgers University and Amy Kimura, Rutgers University

Proactive chat, a pop-up widget inviting users to access chat reference services at the point of need, has tremendous potential to equalize access to expert reference services, but implementing this service poses challenges. Existing literature shows that this service can help more users with real reference questions connect to library services, but the increase in volume can be intimidating for libraries with fixed staffing models. This presentation focuses on implementation choices like pop-up trigger time that impact chat volume and question complexity with the aim of helping practitioners right-size this service to their libraries.

An Examination of Professional Journalists ISB for Outreach and Reference Services
Presenters: Stacy Gilbert, University of Colorado Boulder, Phil White, University of Colorado Boulder, and Kathryn Tallman, University of Colorado Boulder

In order to improve an R1 university libraries outreach and reference services to participants of a journalism fellows program, libraries conducted semi-structured interviews with seven fellows to discover information seeking behaviors. After coding transcripts for themes, preliminary findings suggest that while journalists often have highly developed information seeking skills, they may be unaware of the depth and breadth of library services. This presentation will discuss these findings and how this study affected librarians’ engagement practices with fellows, and how the findings can be extended to supporting journalists at reference service points at public and academic libraries.

Development of Use and the READ Scale in Assessing Chat Reference: A Meta-study
Presenters: Adrienne Warner, University of New Mexico and David A. Hurley, University of New Mexico

A giant leap forward from the hashmark statistics-collecting paradigm, the READ scale is used to understand and make decisions about reference services. Yet this industry standard tool predates the widespread adoption of chat by libraries, and so chat reference did not fully inform its development. In this meta-study of published articles, gray literature, and popular content, we critically analyze the foundational assumptions of the applicability of the READ Scale to chat transactions, its use by academic librarians to understand chat reference, and resulting service changes.