|Weekly News Digest
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New OCLC Research Report on Virtual Reference
Seeking Synchronicity: Revelations and Recommendations for Virtual Reference, a new report from OCLC Research, in partnership with Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and additionally funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), distills more than 5 years of virtual reference (VR) research into a readable summary featuring memorable quotes that vividly illustrate very specific and actionable suggestions. The report suggests that by transforming VR service encounters into relationship-building opportunities, librarians can better leverage the positive feelings people have for libraries. This is critically important in a crowded online space where the biggest players often don’t have the unique experience and specific strengths offered by librarians.
Taken from a multiphase research project that included focus group interviews, online surveys, transcript analysis, and phone interviews, with VR librarians, users and non-users, these findings are meant to help practitioners develop and sustain VR services and systems. The report asserts that the “R” in “VR” needs to emphasize virtual “Relationships” as well as “Reference.” Among the topics addressed are the following:
- How convenience is the “hook” that draws users into VR services
- The exaggerated death of ready reference
- The importance of query clarification in VR
- Ways to boost accuracy and build better interpersonal relationships in VR
- What can be learned from VR transcripts
- Generational differences in how people perceive reference interactions and determine success
- The need for more and better marketing of a suite of services—a “multi-asking” approach
The report’s two primary authors, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D., OCLC senior research scientist, and Marie L. Radford, Ph.D., associate professor, School of Communication & Information, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, said that the goal of their work together, which began in 2005, has been to deliver research-based recommendations that improve the VR services provided by information professionals.
View and download the report at http://www.oclc.org/reports/synchronicity. More information on the “Seeking Synchronicity” project is available at http://www.oclc.org/research/activities/synchronicity/, and other OCLC membership reports can be found at http://www.oclc.org/reports/.
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