Index to chat reference services

Yesterday, Lili (my one and only PhD advisee), posted a question to Dig_Ref: where can she find the most recent stats on dig ref services? She got a great response, kicked off by a reply from Buff Hirko, where she said that at ALA, the RUSA MARS Virtual Reference Committee accepted a project to create an online index of all chat services in the US & eventually the world. This.. Read More

Ask a Librarian in Open WorldCat

Thanks, Dave, for pointing this out: OCLC launches ‘Ask a Librarian’ pilot in Open WorldCat OCLC has implemented a pilot project within the Open WorldCat program that allows Web searchers to submit questions to librarians through online reference services of OCLC member libraries. … Once a searcher enters a postal code or other geographic identifier and receives Open WorldCat results listing nearby libraries that hold the item they’re looking for,.. Read More

Transactive memory, revisted

Here’s another spring-cleaning post. I originally wrote this back in March, shortly after Malcolm Gladwell came to talk at Duke; I no longer remember why I didn’t post it at the time, except that I never finished writing it. So here it is, completed & submitted for your edification. Since reading about the idea of transactive memory in The Tipping Point, I’ve tracked down the article that Gladwell cites on.. Read More

Reference Extract and Bibliomancer

I spoke to Dave Lankes yesterday about Reference Extract and Bibliomancer, two new projects at the Information Institute of Syracuse. Dave explained these two projects very clearly: Both are specialty search engines. The corpus searched by Reference Extract is URLs scraped from of dig ref transactions. The corpus searched by Bibliomancer is the content of the pages at those URLs. Dave is interested in having some evaluation done of these.. Read More

Web vs. Mail Surveys

Here’s one for all you PhD students and Masters students looking at paper topics out there: Kiernan, N.E., Kiernan, M., Oyler, M.A., & Gilles, C. (2005). Is a Web Survey as Effective as a Mail Survey? A Field Experiment Among Computer Users. American Journal of Evaluation, 26(2), 245-252. Abstract: With the exponential increase in Web access, program evaluators need to understand the methodological benefits and barriers of using the Web.. Read More

Who wants to know?

A lot of people in Mecklenburg county, that’s who. I was taking another look at the zipcode data from the NCknows pilot recently. I had already looked at percentages in the stats reports: approximately 75% from within NC, 5% from other states, 20% anonymous. (Conclusion: NCknows is primarily serving North Carolinians, with a fairly minor investment in serving non-North Carolinians.) But I recently had the thought to ask our GIS.. Read More

The Test of Reference

I mentioned the other day that I’d recently reread Anne Lipow’s “‘In Your Face’ Reference Service.” There was one other point from that article that I wanted to mention. Lipow writes: We should conduct a fair test of which is preferred, the human reference librarian or the computer, and if, as I suspect, both are preferred under different conditions, we’d learn when which mode is the first choice. The test.. Read More

Reference Extract

This post from Dig_Ref announces the IIS’ launch of Reference Extract: Reference Extract is a targeted web search engine. It is built from the expertise of over 60 AskA services geared to the education audience. The Virtual Reference Desk team has identified high-quality archives of FAQ’s and previously asked questions. These sites were then indexed, and the result is an easy to use, quality oriented search engine: Reference Extract. Some.. Read More


In teaching my undergrads to use literature databases, I use the analogy that bibliographies are a primitive form of hypertext: they’re a way for one document to reference related documents. Also, like hypertext, they’re uni-directional. This is actually a way for me to introduce students to Web of Science: bibliographies allow you to move backwards in time, but how do you move forwards in time? I get considerable mileage with.. Read More

Did online content providers screw themselves?

Can Papers End the Free Ride Online?, from the NY Times … nearly a decade after newspapers began building and showcasing their Web sites, one of the most vexing questions in newspaper economics endures: should publishers charge for Web news, knowing that they may drive readers away and into the arms of the competition? Executives at The Times have suggested that the paper, which already charges for its crossword puzzle,.. Read More