Reference Renaissance Conference: Vendor Track

I am a volunteer here at Reference Renaissance; I will be hanging out in the vendor presentation room (track F) all Monday afternoon. Here's what went on:

H.W. Wilson
Bruce Preslan reported that H.W. Wilson employs over 100 MLS-degreed librarians; all of their articles are indexed by a humans; they use controlled vocabulary; their abstract writers have advanced degrees in the subject they are abstracting. Free trials of H.W. Wilson's databases are available on their website. Bruce showcased a few of his favorite features on Wilson Web:
  • Have an ongoing interest in a topic? You can get relevant article alerts using RSS.
  • H.W. Wilson's Art Museum Image Gallery offers an abundance of copyright-cleared images for educational purposes. The database features artworks from major museums from across the globe.
  • No habla ingles? H.W Wilson features a translation service for their articles.
  • The current issues database is a jumping point for full-text, unbiased articles about current events and hot issues. It also offers links to a host of websites H.W. Wilson has screened for quality and authority.
  • Not sure if you should purchase that graphic novel? Check out Wilson's Graphic Novel Core Collection.
  • Everyone loves full text... Search Reader's Guide Retro to find the articles you want, and then click on the link to the H.W. Wilson index to get the full-text article.
Mary Elizabeth Gano, Melissa Harter and Erin McCaffrey shared details about how their mentoring process increases the quality of their virtual reference (Librarians by Request). Tutor.com currently employs approximately 30 librarians, and 6 mentors. The mentors essentially ascertain that Tutor's virtual librarians are doing a bang-up job. Their evaluation criteria is based on the RUSA guidelines, client/library feedback, and most especially, reference session transcript review and feedback.

OCLC's QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference
Lauri McIntosh presented info about OCLC's QuestionPoint service, it offers:
  1. Chat
  2. Email
  3. Phone
  4. Reports & admin functions- surveys, quality measures, transcript reviews, and patron satisfaction
  5. Knowledge Base- previous searches that might prove useful in answering the question at hand.
  6. Global Reference Network- tough questions are sent out to a collection of global libraries, so it gets the expert treatment.
  7. 24/7 live reference- another opportunity to join up with a reference collective, so you don't have to man your virtual reference desk at 3 am.
By popular demand, QuestionPoint now features Qwidget. This is a customizable chat widget that can be offered on your website and database pages, in case your patrons need reference help as they navigate your library's offerings. Qwidget is fast; the patron can type in their question and avoid the time-consuming process of entering their account information. Patrons who provide an email address will get a transcript of the reference session.

QuestionPoint does not require patrons to download anything. No plug-ins either. Co-browsing does require Internet Explorer. Otherwise, patrons can start up the browser of their choice to use QuestionPoint. Librarians do need to use IE when they are answering online reference questions.

OCLC's QuestionPoint 24/7 reference cooperative includes 1400+ libraries in the U.S. and U.K. 14 states have signed on to use QuestionPoint for their state-wide 24/7 reference service. The coop employs 24/7 reference policies, standards and best practices.

Like Tutor.com (above), QuestionPoint incorporates quality control and mentoring, to make sure virtual librarians are following best practices.

QuestionPoint offers ongoing training, online classes (which are archived, in case you miss the live class), web-based tutorials and a QuestionPoint wiki and blog.

The Ovid and Greenwood Press presentations were canceled.

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