ellie <3 libraries

sooooo much!

ALA Conference – Monday, June 25th, 2007 July 3, 2007

Filed under: ALA 2007,Conferences — ellie @ 5:40 pm
Tags: ,

I started Monday morning with:

See it, Hear it, Touch it: How Do Learning Styles Affect Virtual Reference Service? (RUSA MARS)
Track: User Services, Reference & Outreach; Reference Services
The learning styles of people using virtual reference services-including librarians-result in a variety of expectations and experiences. People have different types of communication preferences. For some, that means IM; others like the ability to browse live pages with the librarian. Technology continues to provide an increasing variety of tools that in turn allow tailored approaches that can emphasize audible, visual or kinesthetic senses. Experts will explore the options and recommend solutions. Speaker: Eileen Abels, Associate Professor, iSchool, Drexel University, Philadelphia

I was pleased to find out that one of my favorite professors from library school (Lynn Westbrook) was speaking at one of the events I had already planned on attending. The session was set up as a series of questions answered primarily by one of the three speakers and then opened up to the other two, with audience questions added to the mix as it proceeded. Here again I didn’t keep track of who was speaking at any given moment, but the panelists were Eileen Abels, Associate Professor, Drexel University; Marie Radford, Associate Professor, Rutgers; and Lynn Westbrook, Assistant Professor, University of Texas. I have a handout from this session that includes a suggested reading list, related websites, and a chart with information seeking behaviors broken down by generation (including traditionals, boomers, x-ers, and millenials). Handouts and the PowerPoint are available at the Virtual Reference Committee website (scroll down).

Question: What do we know about users’ communication and learning styles that is important for guiding decisions about library services?


  • The heavy virtual reference users are the millenial generation.
    • They prefer heavy personalization and customization.
    • They would rather do it themselves.
    • They are practical, results oriented.
    • They worship Google.
  • So provide a variety of services.
  • What you should do:
    • Appeal to their desire to save time.
    • Say what you can do, not what you can’t.
    • Be very positive.
    • Don’t be afraid to refer.
    • Build personal relationships, show you’re not a robot (avoid programed/scripted responses).
    • Again – -> offer a variety of services.
  • See handout for different styles by generation.

Question: How do the communication styles of librarians influence the provision of virtual reference services?


  • If you offer a variety of reference services you make them all do all. (Again referred to learning styles by generation.)
  • Hands on training allows librarians to decide what styles they like best.
  • IPL found reference librarians were just Googling.
  • Also found that librarians found that VR was the 2nd most personal form of reference after face to face.
  • In VR we feel we lost our physical authority and responsibility, but don’t worry about it. Getting the users’ needs met is what shows our authority and responsibility.
    • So using lol, lowercase, etc. is like smiling at the desk. Warm, inviting…
    • That’s our nervouseness and we need to realize that.
    • They’ll trust us when we do it. (Provide the needed info, not just use the slang.)

Question: What threatens or supports the users’ sense of self-efficacy in an exchange?


  • Self efficacy is not just how they see themselves, but also tools and process.
  • Supports:
    • Open questions – within reason – engages them, makes them active
    • Ask them if they have keywords that have been useful
    • Ask about relevance criteria (but don’t use that phrasing)
    • Differentiated choices
    • Clarity of purpose, role, relationship
    • Acknowledgment of domain knowledge, preferences, requirements
  • Barriers
    • Focus on tool/process, not problem
    • Rush to closure
    • Poor reciprocation of self disclosure
    • Hiding clay feet
    • Jargon – reference service – they think of references in a paper
  • Don’t be afraid to refer.
  • Switch to email from IM if complex.
  • Don’t have to feel rushed, but be sure to give feedback, e.g. “searching…”

Question: What might be problematic or supportive in what librarians are doing?


  • Set positive tone from the beginning
  • Don’t push too many scripts – users have relational needs
  • Develop personal relationship
  • Treat all users alike
  • Know what to expect
  • Lists of what to expect and how librarians treat them
  • Your positive approach will limit problematic behavior
  • Teach users how to use VR, set expectations
  • We forge the future of IM one by one
  • Look at your library website and make sure your services are easy to find (all of them) (contact us, chat now)
  • Let users see what you’re doing – “in order to help you” “to choose resources” can i ask you if (you’re a student)

Question: Screen names


  • very positive
  • Younger users like it when you use their name back.
  • Advocates – yes use names – concerned librarians can use a psuedonym
  • Allow for follow up – give them a way to do that

Question: What’s the best way to ask clarifying question?


  • I can take you down this path or this, which would be more useful to you?
  • Frame it so it’s a quick answer for them.
  • Accuracy is increased by clarifying.
  • “Have I answered your question completely?”
  • Send something and ask “Is this getting at what you want?”
  • Sometimes we’re projecting impatience. They saw only 2% impatient.

Question: How do we train staff?


  • Practice
  • Mirroring behavior
  • Have librarians go be a customer (in chat) can be anywhere – at a car company, cable company.
    • They’ll see what it’s like to be a patron.
    • Empowering – they could have done that better.
  • The younger they are, the more screens they have open – multitasking plummets short term memory – so don’t get frustrated if you have to repeat or remind.

Question: How do users’ and librarians’ expectations influence virtual reference transactions? (especially when those expectations may be established through use of Google, Wikipedia, IM, and social networks)



  • Net resources influences
    • seamless fluid connections
    • consistency in language, perspective, tool
    • choices in process, product, media
    • expect flexibility, control, choice
  • Net communication pattern influences
    • blurring task and social purposes
    • unclear on narrative structure of discourse
    • privacy and control
  • we’re used to a very narrative approach, not the way they approach/function
  • they are bad at judging whether they have a quick question
  • encourages use of self help pages

Question: What are some of the learning opportunities available for students and professionals to gain the needed skills to provide virtual reference services? How do these opportunities reflect the importance of communication and learning styles?


Learning opportunities

  • LIS programs
  • VR consortium training
  • vendor training
  • professional association training
  • IPL provides web based reference training
    • IMLS grant, they’ll be doing more

VR we have the lone ranger approach

  • Suggest double teaming – be in office together
    • Learn best with others
    • Pairing older and younger for both to learn

Think of it as a staged effort, many stages

  • Building something, not launching the Queen Mary
  • Cooperative culture of growth, not you’re trained and you’re out there
  • Changing minds of admin

The time to promote phone reference is now! Cell phones are everywhere. When you’re doing instruction say, “OK, I’m going to ask you to do something no one here has ever done – take out your cell phone and turn it on.” Then give them the phone number for the reference desk, then the library hours.

Here there was a good slide on the communication preferences of young users.

We were encouraged to try something different.

  • Illinois is doing it all from one desk successfully.
  • Make poster with three points on it of what a librarian can do for you.
  • Build personal relationships.

Question: How to convince admin/other librarians?


  • Have/get data
    • Do a user study – “This is what users want”
    • Compare with peers (libraries you want to be like)
    • Get feedback on service
  • Have a plan
  • Send out positive survey questions/answers monthly
  • One speaker said she doesn’t think you can force librarians to offer VR and expect good service, but you do need to expose all your librarians and have them work together.
    • Shadowing

Question: What questions is it perceived ‘okay’ for librarians to ask about during the VR exchange? What questions is it okay for users to ask?


  • I’m ok, you’re ok
  • Trying to protect each others’ face
  • Good slide (slide #31)
  • Sign instead of reference say “search engine”
  • Let people know scripts are scripts
  • “I appreciate you’re goofing around, I’m here when you have a real question.”
    • Setting tone

Another blogger took notes over at Some Librarian.

Sorry I missed:

Once Upon a Furl in a Podcast Long Ago: Using New Technologies to Support Library Instruction (ACRL WSS)
Track: User Services, Reference & Outreach; Information Literacy
Librarians are teaching to the Net Generation. Students are growing up in a world of technology. Ever wonder how to creatively use new technologies in the classroom? Not quite sure what a blog, Podcast, RSS feed, or social bookmark is? Or how you could use these to teach? Joan Lippincott, Associate Director of Coalition for Networked Information, will give an overview of emerging technologies and library instruction. Also, hear how one LIS professor, an expert in gender and information technology, is teaching future librarians how to use these tools in the classroom. See examples and get tips from an instructional services librarian and a women’s studies librarian on how to integrate such tools into your instruction. Speakers: Joan Lippincott, Associate Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information; Kathy Burnett, Associate Professor, Information Studies, Florida State University; Kathryn Shaughnessy, Instructional Services Librarian, St. John’s University, Queens; Heather Tompkins, Reference & Instruction Librarian, Carlton College

Wiking the Blog and Walking the Dog – Social Software, Virtual Reality, and Authority Everywhere (PLA LD)
Track: Digital Information & Technologies
Innovators from within the library world present creative and practical initiatives that show how libraries can participate in the dynamic emergence of web-based information services. If you are looking for ideas as to how your library can embrace technologies offered by the likes of Wikis, Blogs, Web 2.0, Second-Life, Podcasting, Flickr, You Tube, and My Space, then this is the program for you. Traditional forms of publishing, research, and recreational information will be challenged and expanded, as will traditional notions of information authority. Presenters will show how library participation in these contemporary online forums via social software is becoming as common and as easy as walking the dog.
Speakers: Helen Blowers, Public Services Technology Director, Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg Cnty., N.C.; Meredith Farkas, Distance Learning Librarian, Norwich University, Vt.; John Blyberg, Systems Administrator, Ann Arbor (Mich.) District Library; Lori Bell, Director of Innovation, Alliance Library System, Ill.

After lunch I snuck a little late into:

Serving Transgendered Patrons (ALA GLBTRT)
Track: User Services, Reference & Outreach; Outreach to Target Populations
The information needs of transpeople in general have frequently been overlooked. Often folded into Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual services, libraries have seldom discussed the unique interests and needs of this growing population. This presentation establishes some baseline cultural competencies and provides guidance on locating basic Transgendered information resources. Included is a pathfinder and bibliography for resources selected for their relevance and accuracy.

I have some great resources from this session and I’d be happy to answer any questions. Electronic version of most of the handouts are available on John Otto’s website.

John explained that the language is constantly shifting. Commonly transgendered is used as an umbrella term. Originally it was a distinction between those choosing not to opt for surgery (transgendered) and those taking hormones and surgically altering their bodies, though not necessarily their genitals (transexual).

Nothing is standardized, but here are some terms: FTM, F2M, transman, man, male pronounsSee which pronouns they prefer. The steps are completely individual. There is no one model.

Sexual orientation of transmen is as varied as the general population.

John also pointed out that the terms heterosexual and homosexual make a statement about both parties. He proposed the terms androphile and gynophile. (While the friends I discussed this with weren’t a fan of those specific terms, we did agree that it’s an interesting concept to only define by the attraction rather than by a statement of self and an attraction.)

Some people find that hormones change who you’re attracted to. No studies to give clearcut statistics, but but roughly 30-40% of trans are gay or bisexual. Many weren’t attracted to men before. It’s hard to predict how hormones will affect you. Many of these men were never in the LGBT community. F2M who had been attracted to men and remain so find themselves in the LGBT community for the first time, dealing with issues they never had to deal with.

The literature is almost only talking about lesbians and gay men. Use your critical thinking skills and question does this pertain to trans?


  • personal as political
  • LGB is a declaration of who you are
  • Trans – can undermine transition
    • people think oh, you’re not really a man, you’re a woman
    • physical safety of not being out
    • this is personal medical info – we don’t share without permission
    • also, this wasn’t said, but while LGB is a declaration of who you are, trans could be seen as a declaration of who you were
  • When you’re doing surveys ask yourself does gender need to be included as a question? If it’s not necessary, don’t include it.

Primary info needs of FTM:

  • medical
  • legal and political
  • emotional/support issues
  • respect/confidentiality

How can you make such a huge decision without information on all the effects?


  • take hormones or not
  • surgery – variety of options, not just “the surgery”
  • locating medical care providers
  • respect in patient provider relationship
  • wpath.org
    • established standards of care
    • some doctors use them as hurdles, others as guidelines
    • some critisize standards, he thinks they’re good.


  • name change – court order stays online, also must be posted in a public place for 30 days (often try to look for really small local paper, may need help locating)
  • government voting record online – includes gender
  • identity documents and records – driver’s license, social security card, passports, birth certificate, school records, bank accounts, contracts, child custody
    • each has own rules
    • some vary by state or county
  • gender marker different than name
  • selective service – federal rules – men must register between 18-26 – If they don’t they can’t get a government job (e.g. post office) or financial aid for school. All tied in to social security number.
  • discrimination – workplace, bathroom issues, marriage
  • every single card in your wallet, everything that comes in the mail
  • there are legal centers that deal with issues at the case level and at the policy level
  • lots of docs on the Human Rights Campaign website – http://www.hrc.org/
    • they will send out copies of many of their pamphlets
    • also available as pdf on website

Emotional support

  • finding support groups
  • relationship issues
  • info sharing – docs, therepists
  • “passing” tips
  • LG have more opportunities to know you’re not the only person in the world, but also finding people to talk to
  • awkward to kind of go through adolescence again – like passing tips
  • What will I look like?
    • Book – Body Alchemy: Transexual Portraits – Loren Cameron
    • one person criticized this book for not showing enough variety of types of bodies – said it was a good book, but shouldn’t be your only one.


  • real ID act
    • impacting immigrants and trans people particularly hard
  • assault issues
  • locating resources
    • google – search terms – FTM + health, legal, support, personal
  • yahoo groups – groups.yahoo.com
    • search term FTM
    • often in adult listings
  • information literacy, netiquette


  • shortage of materials
  • MTF focus in general trans resources
  • see GLBTRT trans bib
  • LC subject headings
  • problem using transgender as a search term results are often LGBT
  • http://www.jotto.info
    • paper
    • taskforce podcast on aging – won’t be up long
    • FTM resources – pathfinder (handout)
    • book list

Barriers making libraries not safe

  • staff training
  • gendered restrooms (add a family restroom if possibly, helps more than one group)

Sorry I missed:

Cultural Competence: Bridging the Gap Between What We Say and What We Do (AFL REFORMA/ALA EMIERT)
Track: Administration & Leadership
Speakers will address REFORMA President Roxana Benavides’ theme for 2006-2007: “Bridging the Gaps”, by looking at cultural competence as an integral part of service delivery, workforce equity and leadership development. Ghada K. Elturk (Outreach Librarian of the City of Boulder Public Library) will explain why diversity, service, and communication are ineffective without cultural competence. Paula M. Smith (Asst. Librarian, Penn State Abington) will address cultural competence as an organizational development and measurement tool. Camila Alire (Dean Emeritus, Univ. of New Mexico and Colorado State University), and José Aponte (Library Director, San Diego County Library) will outline how and why cultural competence is a vital component of communication and leadership in a global and multicultural environment. Discussion will be facilitated by Roxana Benavides and Sandra Rios Balderrama. Speakers: Ghada K. Elturk; Jose Aponte; Camila Alire

Survey Fatigue? An Rx for Avoiding the Problem (LAMA MAES)
Track: Administration & Leadership; Assessment
Survey fatigue is a commonly acknowledged problem of immediate interest to “surveyors” and “surveyed” alike. This program will provide practical strategies and techniques to reduce the phenomenon by suggesting ways to improve surveys when their use is mandated and by describing alternative approaches for evaluating existing programs and services, providing meaningful assessment, and developing assessment-based planning efforts. Panelists will also discuss how to convince library staff, upper-level administrators, and supervisory agencies to accept these approaches.Speakers: Wendy Starkweather, Director, Public Services Division, University of Nevada,Las Vegas; Keith Lance, Director, Library Research Service, Colorado Department of Education; Steve Hiller, Director, Director of Assessment & Planning, University of Washington Libraries; Meg Scharf, Associate Director for Public Services, University of Central Florida Libraries


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