The main focus of a Reference Librarian is to "get the word out" whether through information literacy instruction, the reference transaction, or other means. Librarians teach students how to research, use the library catalog, determine the differences between a [scholarly] journal and a magazine, and answer various patron questions. When it comes to communication with patrons, there are several tools that can maximize the effectiveness of the reference transaction, even at a distance. One of these tools is a product distributed by Springshare called "LibAnswers" (http://www.springshare.com/libanswers/). This is the same company that provides the LibGuide software for librarians to develop their helpful resource guides.
LibAnswers provides an "ask-a-librarian" platform permitting reference exchanges that allow students to send questions and receive answers via texting/SMS, widgets or Twitter. Also, this platform provides libraries with an easy to develop knowledge base that patrons can access at any time and that is automatically developed as librarians answer patron questions. With the right package, this software can track reference transactions thereby providing potentially helpful statistics. These statistics potentially show the types of questions most frequently asked, the type of students (undergraduate or graduate) who are asking the questions, and when they are asking the questions. One of the benefits is that students can receive answers to their questions 24/7 with a well-developed knowledge base. This service complements a Reference Librarian's job by helping to "get the word out" any time of day, even when there is no librarian on duty.
Another way to "get the word out" is by using LibGuides. In an early blog post I mentioned my work with the Grants LibGuide (http://mc.libguides.com/content.php?pid=44807). During this past week, I began discussing the reality of developing another LibGuide, but this time it will be for student workers. There are several well-developed student worker guides available (see http://libguides.framingham.edu/worker or http://libguides.chattanoogastate.edu/helpdesk), but the one I plan to develop will focus on helping our students learn more about Information Literacy so they will know how to better serve our students as MC's QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan) develops further.
Using the resources mentioned above will not only help "get the word out" but they will save the time of the patron (see Ranganathan's Fourth Law which states "Save the time of the reader." - http://www.slais.ubc.ca/courses/libr517/03-04-wt2/projects/ranganathan/contri.htm).
In the remaining weeks to come, my plan is to look at RRSA a little more in-depth, as well as ACRL's Information Literacy standards. I will also keep you updated on the progress of the Student Worker LibGuide. Let's see how these last few weeks will actually unfold...
Chattanooga State Community College. (2011, October 27). Student worker: Help desk. Retrieved from http://libguides.chattanoogastate.edu/helpdesk
Framingham State University. (2011, August 3). Student worker expectations. Retrieved from http://libguides.framingham.edu/worker
Shiyali ramamrita ranganathan:contributions. (2004, March 24). Retrieved from http://www.slais.ubc.ca/courses/libr517/03-04-wt2/projects/ranganathan/contri.htm
Springshare. (2011). Libanswers. Retrieved from http://www.springshare.com/libanswers/