DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, July 18, 2011—A ground-breaking membership report from OCLC Research suggests that by transforming virtual reference (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.
The report—Seeking Synchronicity: Revelations and Recommendations for Virtual Reference—demonstrates that today’s students, scholars and citizens are not just looking to libraries for answers to specific questions—they want partners and guides in a lifelong information-seeking journey.
Seeking Synchronicity: Revelations and Recommendations for Virtual Reference, 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 five years of VR research into a readable summary featuring memorable quotes that vividly illustrate very specific and actionable suggestions. 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 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.
“The purpose of this new publication,” Connaway said, “is to showcase several years’ and several hundred pages’ worth of work with a few very specific, practical suggestions for sustaining and developing VR services and systems. This short report is designed to be a quick read that is informative in boiling down results from our multi-year research project involving two teams of researchers, at OCLC and Rutgers University.”
“It is organized into topical chapters that are illustrated with graphs and quotations that bring our findings to life,” added Radford. “We also provide an introduction that serves as an executive summary so that readers can quickly understand and apply our research findings and recommendations to immediately improve VR experiences for all users.”
View and download the report at http://www.oclc.org/