Thursday, August 12, 2010

IFLA report: How do we hook them once we've got them to look?

This report on a talk by Cathy Palmer continues blog posts from the 76th IFLA General Conference and Assembly, held 10-15 August 2010, in Gothenburg, Sweden. The conference site is at There is a podcast of this talk here, courtesy of Niels Damgaard. The full text paper is:
Ferry, C, Johnson, C and Palmer, C.(University of California, Irvine, California, USA) Proof of concept: the fatal first click. How do we hook them once we've got them to look?

Only Cathy Palmer was present. She firstly talked about what a "proof of concept" is, i.e. a “use of evidence which demonstrates that a model or innovative approach to solving a problem is viable, can be done with the resurces available, and solves the problem that it aims to solve.
Cathy explained that a proof of concept approaches encourages the use of data. therefore she gave us some of the statistics they have gathered. In a typical day have two instruction sessions (55 people), 8000 physica; visits, 360 reference questions, but 25000 visits to websites. Most visitors are therefore virtual: so tehlibrarians want to want to transform casual users into dedicated users.
She emphasised data aspect, because IT colleagues sometimes need convincing about what the problems with the website are.
Digital reference also enabled them to gather and analyse transcripts of reference interviews, so they can see what people are asking about. They identified the top 10 reference transcript questioins; the top three were: find an article, books, login to licensened resources. They also use Google analytics so they could look at page views, visits, jump off points etc. However you can’t know WHAT people are doing (e.g. spending a long time on a page could mean positive use, but the users may just be getting baffled) They have analysed searches from the online catalogue to see what they are looking for, what are they calling it and what do they use.
Cathy then gave examples of interventions that have arisen from the project.
1) Make it easy to ask a librarian. The chat function is now at top of page and on many pages, which includes live caht and one-on-one consultations
2) Embed the chat widget into pages that staff refer to, to make it easier to start the chat
3) Creating a popup window for people that need to be authenticated (recognising their IP address, and popping up the alert) questions about this went down 30% in first 6 weeks after making the change
4) Using google search traffic results so they can identify the words people are using to serach and use them as synonyms
5) Make some decision trees to help people to work through more complex library procedures
6) There was the idea of the "Pop up librarian" (a virtual guide"), but this has paused after quesions about who would cover the online librarian
7) Digital concierge to cover some common problems (they are exploring this)
The next stage is evaluation and they are movingforward with that

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