ILS604-70 Advanced Reference
Pamela R. Dennis
March 14, 2003
Unit 7-2 Live Chat Reference Service
I tried all week to reach the live chat at Tri-College Libraries (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore) but, because they were on spring break this week, they were not using their normal evening hours. I also tried during the day, but was given a message that they would email me the answer in a day or two. Other academic libraries that I searched were also on Spring break and not observing evening hours.
I then tried the chat reference at Memorial Hall Library, Andover, Massachusetts (http://www.mhl.org/), and was thoroughly pleased with the service. The main page leads to a connect with a librarian 24/7 page. This page gives the options of 24/7 Chat Reference, telephoning (978-623-8401 x31), or emailing. Under 24/7 Chat Reference, the following is stated: Ask questions and get answers, anytime night or day, right here on the Internet, from reference staff at Memorial Hall Library, and at other libraries in MA, California and other states. There is then a link to further information. At this next page, there is a statement asking the user to refrain from entering new URLs or using the Forward or Refresh/Reload buttons to keep from losing the connection. There is another statement of purpose as well as a more extensive information link. This reference project is part of the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System (MCLS) which is supported by Federal LSTA funding. It is made up of 31 independent city and special district public libraries in the Los Angeles area, and Memorial Hall Library is the first library outside southern California to participate. Other participating libraries include Boston Public Library, Reading Public Library, and the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg in North Carolina.
The site was very easy to enter, asking for name, email address, phone number, home library, and message. My question was I understand the World Trade Center is about to be rebuilt and will be the tallest building in the world. Right now, what is the tallest building? A message appeared immediately stating that a librarian would be with me in about two minutes. In about a minute, I received the message that there was a reference librarian online who was reading my question. In good reference interview manner, he/she asked if I wanted the tallest building in the world. I responded that I did, and the librarian stated that he/she was searching. In about another minute, I was told that there was a site available and that site immediately popped up in the window. While I was reading that page, the librarian stated that he/she was still searching for more information. After no other finds, I was asked if I was satisfied with the information. I then followed up by asking how tall the new World Trade Center was supposed to be. While searching for this information, the librarian found another site about the tallest buildings and passed along that site. Then I was given a site about the World Trade Center. The information was very complete, and I ended up with heights, dates of completion, and locations of the 100 tallest buildings in the world, and information specifically related to the new World Trade Center building. I thanked the librarian, and we signed off. I was then given a page that listed the sites that we had visited and was asked to fill out an online survey. Upon checking my email, I found a full transcript of the session which I have attached. The entire process was completed in about 15 minutes.
The librarian was very helpful, continued to ask questions to make sure I received the information I needed, and continued to search for more materials even after I had been given a good source. The service was very fast but polite and helpful. He/she followed up quickly with a transcript of the entire session.