As most of you know, we have just completed a series of User Group meeting sessions, one in-person session at ALA and three virtual sessions. One VUG session (recording at http://vidego.multicastmedia.com/player.php?p=son2vp68) was held at a time that would be convenient for European, South African, and Middle East users. A second session was timed for the western Americas, Australian, and Asian users, and a third session for the Americas.
The agenda and content for all sessions were the same:
- Update on network issues
- Upcoming enhancements and features
- Community update
- Joining a virtual group for referral purposes
- Discussion questions:
- What would you like to see in a QP reference service using texting/SMS?
- What do you need to see in library policy pages
Some users present acknowledged that response time problems had improved somewhat over the last few weeks as we continue to tweak the the QP database to optimize it in its new environment. We will continue to work with this to return QuestionPoint to its remarkably good response-time state before mid-May.
Attendees demonstrated considerable interest in the Qwidget “evolution” by the number of questions they asked, particularly concerning the plans to optimize the Qwidget for operation from an iPhone, Android, and Palm pre. We’re looking forward to user-librarian reception when we introduce the mobile Qwidget in the next several months.
Our first foray into texting via QuestionPoint also sparked interest and questions. Using the popular Twitter service—free to all, independent of mobile phone communications providers, and available worldwide—library users with Twitter accounts will be able to “tweet” a question to the library via the library’s Twitter account (posted on the library’s website and, behind the scenes, bound to its QuestionPoint account) and receive a private response back in the same format. The librarian, however, will be working within the familiar QuestionPoint interface to read and respond to all tweets.
After noting that we have added Peru and Brazil to our list of countries using QuestionPoint, we listed the newest members to the community. Reinforcing recent posts to this blog and to the QuestionPoint-L list, we also talked about the opportunity for 24/7 Cooperative users to join a virtual group online, so they can refer user misdirected questions to the proper 24/7 library. Details and step-by-step procedures to join are here: http://questionpoint.blogs.com/questionpoint_247_referen/2009/07/refer-sessions-to-other-coop-members-by-joining-the-247-cooperative-virtual-group.html.
At the in-person meeting at ALA, attendees said the following were the features they most wanted to see in a text-messaging service:
1. Have “texting as a Cooperative”, identifying local library with available policy pages
2. Automatic scripts with categories
3. In Ask mode, separate viewing only email, chat or text messages
4. Send text messages to email for possible further answer/referral
5. Be nimble: compete with ChaCha and KGB
6. Text to speak converter
During the VUG sessions, a couple of libraries in each session remarked on their experiences with a texting (SMS) service. The experiences they related seem to range from very slightly used to good, steady use. One attendee noted that their druthers would be to have all enquiry statistics rolled into one service, so they would want to see similar features for SMS and chat. Another suggested that like chat, they would want SMS as a cooperatively covered intake method, seconding one of the suggestions coming out of the ALA UG meeting.
Suggestions from all four sessions for additional information needed in policy pages included:
- Job hunting info/links to pages and library’s own employment information ; minimum age to work @ library; volunteer policies for library;
- No broken links – last updated note. Make sure all URLs are hyperlinks;
- More dummy library cards. Specify the PIN protocol. Specify how patron should get PIN if it’s forgotten;
- Define library lingo and who can do what: “hold”, “recall”, “reserve”;
- Specify how to locate fulltext articles. Information on how to access e-books and audio books;
- Step-by-step directions on “My Account” area, or provide dummy bar code so librarians can assist patrons;
- Be sure the policy page email contact is filled in – send any corrections to this;
- Be sure and put stuff not on the library web page into the policy page;
- Get your librarians to USE THE POLICY PAGES;
- Library equipment location and use;
- Links to library floor plan, if available online;
- Details of policies of library use (repeating some of what may appear in various places on a library’s web site);
- Policies of lending among campuses in big university systems, such as the University of California;
- How to retrieve/recover passwords;
- Word policy page information as though speaking directly to a patron, since this information is often pasted right into a response;
- Automatic reminder to update policy pages, as they all too quickly become outdated.
We hope all attendees and others who could not attend will be able to join us at our next Virtual User Group meeting, to be scheduled during the fall quarter. Our next in-person UG meeting will most likely be at ALA Midwinter 2010. Watch this space for announcements!