Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ready for Reference

Susan McGlamery, Director of Question Point Programs @ OCLC presented an update. Susan started the 24/7 Reference Cooperative. Memorial Hall in Andover was the only library outside of Southern California to join the cooperative, a rare step and on the cutting edge indeed in reference services. MassAnswers and BLC joined at some point after.

If you haven't watched Desk Set with Tracy and Hepburn, do it soon! Susan reminded us that harnessing the vast powers of librarians like Bunny Watson goes back to the 1950s.

Susan gave many examples of how libraries, including the LOC in DC, are using Question Point in cooperatives or in house. Question Point integrates walk-up, phone, fax, email, web forms, co-browsing and chat together to address and answer questions - whether patron or librarian-driven. Falmouth Public Library and Memorial Hall in Andover are using multi-format online reference services.

Worcester Public Library will be testing the Qwidget-powered reference session soon. Susan described the process to add the Qwidget box to your own library's website. You need to be a Question Point library to do this. To see the Qwidget at work at the Arlington Heights Library in Illinois; it's similar to the Meebo widget. Susan also introduced the CAPTCHA enhancement for foiling spammers.

There are many wonderful ways to address reference needs. Check out Question Point for more answers.

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