Sunday, July 12, 2009

#ala2009 Liveblogging OCLC QuestionPoint User Group Meeting

Sunday, July 12, 1:30 - 3:00PM at ALA Annual in Chicago

Susan McGlamery & Jeff Penka, OCLC Staff Members - QuestionPoint Service Update

Virtual reference is a way to open many doors to the library. This is a multi-stage process.

Qwidget Evolution - moving into first gen production for August production. Contemporary look and feel with fully customizable CSS color choices. Working on customizing all text. Can pop-out and resize. Improved privacy: on entrance, can require or nudge for email entry to proceed. Working on implementing for Facebook and for Open Web Kit - iPhone, Palm, and Android. Working version available for demo. Remember iPod Touch is also a mobile device for Open Web Kit, and much cheaper than iPhone.

Going Mobile - two touch process to add app to desktop of mobile device. Also working on binding institutions to Twitter accounts, which allows users to access both on phone and other ways. Library creates twitter account and binds it through QP, then gets tweets through QP, with new questions and responses filtered. Will have ability to turn avatars on and off, and adjust font size. This will go into the Ask Module. TinyURL generator is built right into the answering mode.
Facebook wall posts are fundamentally the same, but without the character limit; FB will eventually be integrated into this. The hope is to see this by fall.

Even though this comes through Twitter, that doesn't mean that everyone can see the whole reference transaction. If the patron follows the library, you can direct message them, which is private. However, one issue with Twitter is that excessive direct messaging gets registered by Twitter as spam, so reference transactions need to be shorter.

Network Issues - Locking up, slowing down, or freezing was geographically uneven and had to do with OCLC's Internet provider dropping packets. Over the last month, bandwidth has been increased with a new provider to prevent that. There have also been some configuration problems over the last week as they upgraded security and hardware for better performance - plans next week for an attempt for the best performance ever. This is an outgrowth of the rapidly increasing size of the national cooperation. When a connection is lost (multiple times in a session), right click, get the "About" information, and send it to QP.

LoC has been getting spam through QP. Remember that there are spam utilities like captcha in QP Admin.

24/7 Reference Cooperative - Michigan academic joining this fall; close to 24/7 Spanish coverage thanks to growth in Latin America and bilingual librarians.

See Full instructions on the blog for joining virtual group so that you can transfer patrons to other librarians.

Virginia Cole, Cornell - Text-A-Librarian
Began in January, just testing the waters. Even at Cornell, not everyone has a smart phone, so they limited to texting. Contacted last fall by Mosio (now TextALibrarian) to be a test partner.

Students use phones; librarians use web-based interface and login with passwords. Unanswered messages have red answer buttons - luckily no lag after one librarian answered; system is fast enough to avoid duplicate answers. Mosio originally showed cellphone numbers, but Cornell worked with them to get that stripped out and the data not retained anywhere. Interface gives 288 characters. Alternatively, messages can be sent to email or IM, and can be signaled by sound.

The big problem is that the texted questions are often ambiguous - many technical equipment questions - and they expect immediate answers. They only promise to respond 10-5 Mon-Fri.

Rolled out service in stealth mode by only promoting with elevator posters, tabling, limited web page mention. This allowed gradual testing of the technology. For the first month, it seemed fine, but then they realized they weren't getting all the questions. They began doing some internal testing and checking back with Mosio, for several rounds, before they felt confident enough to promote service more heavily, such as putting it on Ask A Librarian page.

Very concerned about training - everything learned about chat will be helpful for texting.

Plan for fall is to integrate with more promotion - getting business cards out to new students via instruction sessions, and getting them to program them into their phones before they leave.

Not sure about integration with Twitter version of QP - depends in part on price from Text A Librarian. Maybe different types of questions via different entry methods - ie, directions from cellphones.

No library represented at meeting is yet using SMS for overdues, etc.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Libri & Libertas: Books & Freedom in a Web 2.0 World by Laura H. Wimberley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 3.0 United States License.