At the Ref Desk (10/6/18): (Question of the Day): "For how much time can I ask you questions?" I told him we were open till nine. [more...]
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Reference

IM Widgets More Effective Than Crummy Old Links for Library Chat Reference

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 5/16/11 (8:04pm)

First, I like this study of Chat Reference at S.I.U.-C. because it stresses the need to take its results in context. Maybe you're getting more questions about holdings because you've now got your IM widget on all the database pages listing articles your users are looking for, etc. In any case, the fact that they now have their IM Widget on those pages instead of a simple link seems to have significantly increased virtual traffic:

"The number of SVR ['Synchronous virtual reference' -- i.e. IM] questions increased by another 1,000 in the year when the library embedded a widget into the SFX link resolver menu and EBSCOhost databases. Even though the Ask A Librarian link had been included in the SFX menu and the EBSCOhost banner for many years, an increase was recorded only after the widget was embedded. The increase in SVR questions supports the notion that placement of a widget can influence use."

Julie Arendt, Stephanie J. Graves, (2011) "Virtual question changes: reference in evolving environments", Reference Services Review, Vol. 39 Iss: 2, pp.187 - 205.

Snow Storm Aftermath: DePaul University

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 2/5/11 (11:12am)
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Some shots on the way to work today.

  1. Sign post in snow saying 'Caution: Falling Mice'
  2. Snow sprinkled statues just outside of the DePaul Library.
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Depressing Historical Factoid of the Day

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 1/8/11 (3:17pm)

From Magill's Medical Guide:

"Meanwhile, Spanish physician Michael Servetus published a treatise in 1553 describing how circulation of blood to the lungs and back (often called the lesser circulation) might occur. Unfortunately, because he also included religious views, all copies of his writings that could be found were destroyed, and he was burned at the stake. Eventually, in 1694, a copy of his book was found; his circulation theory matched later findings." [6th ed., v. 1, p.369]

Reference Fail

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 11/24/10 (9:31am)

Library-Journal-logoLibrary Journal's got an article getting a lot of attention by Jean Costello with the provocative title, "Why I Don't Use Libraries for Reference Anymore".

Fall Quarter 2010 at DePaul - View from the Reference Desk

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 9/9/10 (8:09pm)
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Actually the Fall Quarter started on Tuesday -- but this is my first day back.

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Hub of Communication

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 7/24/10 (2:15pm)

Pretty accurate description of a librarians' activities at the reference desk from last month's Computers in Libraries:

...With a telephone receiver wedged between your shoulder and your ear, you are waiting patiently while the patron on the other end expresses his information need: "I am looking for a book; it is blue ..." Beep, beep -- a tone alerts you to the presence of a second caller. Just then, ding -- a little yellow envelope appears in the lower-right corner of your computer--a decade earlier, a voice would have kindly reminded you that, "you've got mail." Ding -- a new window pops into existence; an instant message. Amid all of this confusion, a patron walks up to the desk, crosses her arms, and taps her foot impatiently. You smile and hold up your index finder -- the universal signal for "one moment please." Ding -- something is flashing in the toolbar: your text messaging service. In a desperate attempt at triage, you are clicking away feverishly, minimizing and shuffling windows, each containing a separate application. Oh, and don't forget about your library's Facebook and Twitter accounts ... [Johnson, Benjamin E., "Google Voice", Computers in Libraries, (30, 5): June 2010]

Beware of What You Ask

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 5/18/10 (9:15am)

A student came by as I was closing up wanting to know if we kept records of people's searches. His hard drive had crashed and all the work he had done the day before, researching for a paper, was now lost.

I explained that the only way to do this is by creating an account on the individual databases (where possible) and then saving the search results to that. Beyond that, there's little record of what people do. And that's a good thing.

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Avalanche of abandoned flash drives turn up at Reference

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 5/8/10 (11:11am)

Hot News from Reference: an avalanche of flash drives left abandoned in lab computers by forgetful students have been turning up at the Reference Desk. Will there be no end to this deluge? Our only hope: microchips implanted in all of us coming with at least 16 gb of disk space.

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Live-Blogging the Empty Library

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 3/27/10 (10:38am)

10:30am: What do you do as a reference librarian when you're the only one who showed up for work (hello Circulation)?

11:00am: The person supposed to be at Circulation just called saying he was stuck at the Airport in Minneapolis.

11:26am: Problem: A student came by wanting to charge out a book. I explained we didn't have anyone with access to the system. He said he'd come back later in the day.

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Wireless Now a Standard Library Feature in People's Minds

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 2/27/10 (10:45am)

Just got an interesting question over the phone today. A woman called the reference desk wanting to know if we were open to the public. She said she wasn't a student from DePaul.

"Yes," I replied, explaining that she had access to the books and print journals.

"Do we have access to the wireless as well?"

I had to explain that, like most schools, you need a student ID and password to access the wireless here. I was impressed though by her assumption that wireless was now part of what it means for a library to be "open".

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