Juggling Lessons. How do librarians work with simultaneous users in QuestionPoint ? Kate Pittsley , Eastern Michigan University Michigan Virtual Reference Service Collaborative Annual Meeting, April 8 2011. Questions. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
Juggling LessonsHow do librarians work with simultaneous users
Kate Pittsley, Eastern Michigan UniversityMichigan Virtual
Reference Service Collaborative Annual Meeting, April 8 2011
Lit review small mentions in articles on managing
VRL-Transcripts? Survey? Interviews1Questions1. Are you comfortable
juggling 2 questions at a time? Have you ever handled 3 or more at
2. How do you decide whether to grab an additional question?
What factors do you consider?
3. What techniques do you use to successfully work with multiple
4. Are there pitfalls to watch for when juggling multiple
Advantage things came up that I hadnt consideredNuanced
answersAsk for clarifications, ask whyGreat quotesEnjoyed
No right/ wrong hoping elaborate - Confidential he/she
2 most interesting-I didnt realize all the factors I consider
till you interviewed me.
- Location of user, timing, nature of the question.
3&4 useful tips
2ParticipantsAll EMU QP librarians participated
Dedicated to VR during shiftsSome one hour shifts, some eve
All tech savvyVR experience/frequency varies
IMO, all very good reference librarians!
No right/ wrong hoping elaborate - Confidential he/she
3Juggling Comfort13 of 15 are comfortable juggling 2
3rd question? - 3 say never (or almost never)- 7 will, but dont
frequently- 5 routinely juggle 3
4Uber-Jugglers are Rare Only one librarian felt comfortable
doing more than 3 at once
With 4 active ?s you dont feel like you are staying on top of
Enthusiastically juggled multiple questions answer quality
reduced frequency of picking up a second.52 of 15 are not
One doesnt do VR frequently and isnt comfortable with texting in
Both have philosophical reasons related to customer service.
Uncomfortable abandoning grammar rules
Divided attention is a disservice to the student6Do I take that
2nd question?Where is the question from?always if EMUusually if
Michigan (& other MI librarian not available)more selective if
Only 2 didnt mention place as factor may have taken as a
MI esp likely highly likely committed to Michigan obligated if
Michigan our Uber-juggler always
even pick up a Business question if it was from Michigan
Some will only pick up a 3rd if its MI
7Where: Is Anybody Out There?Ten mentioned scanning to see if
librarians from that state/region are available& hesitating
longer if they had 0 questions
Notice this often happens with the Calif & NY
Im not sure everyone carries their weight. What are the rest of
you folks doing? Wonders if they dont log out
8Timing: The End is in Sight Four mentioned that they are more
likely to pick up a 2nd question when the first seems like its
Think finished then they ask a zinger!9Timing: The Space
In-Between Nine indicated response time of current patron as a
less likely to pick up a second when first has quick back and
more likely with long gaps in communication.
10Timing: Student Wait TimeEight will pick up an additional
question if a student has been waiting too long to be picked
Definitions of too long vary from 30 or 40 to 200 seconds. Most
librarians dont have a specific number of seconds in mind.
Im not going to let someone keep sitting there.I worry if I
leave it too long the person will leave.
11Timing: Quitting TimeSeven said they were less likely to pick
up a 2nd question if it was near the end of a shift.
12Timing: Time of DayEarly shifts likely to pick up extra
Evenings are especially busy.
On multiple hour shifts, the librarian is likely to pick up
extra questions at the top of the hour.
13Questions: Complex or SimpleMost librarians read the question
and judge its level of complexity as a factor. Most thought
juggling 2 complex questions less than ideal.
Half were less likely to pick up a 2nd question, if 1st was
complex, involved, or required sustained attention or
Almost all said more willing to pick up a 2nd,if it looked easy,
straightforward, or quick.
One Turns off queue when juggling two complex
Hesitates to pick up vague hello ?s content unkown
Motivated to pick up easy out-of-state to up stat
percentage14Question: Subject ExpertiseSix were more likely to pick
up a 2nd question if it was in their area of subject expertise.
two reversed this - were less likely to pick up non-MI questions
outside expertise.One specifically stated doesnt take subject into
Medical exp - Others will be less comfortablemay not handle as
15Juggling PitfallsFour reported accidentally sending answers to
the wrong person,but all thought this wasnt a big problem.
16Juggling PitfallsTwo people worried that we might spend less
time on the reference interview and give quicker answers when
juggling multiple questions.
One worried other people would
One admitted that when it was really busy he tended to give
quicker answers and that less thorough ref interviews had led to
17Oops!Forgetting someone whos waiting
Forgetting what school they are from
- Losing track of time with involved ?
Blocking out the response beeps
Getting too involved with one question, so other is
neglected.18Do we tell?Librarians were evenly divided between those
that usually tell students they are working with another student
and those who dont.
There are also some in the middle who sometimes tell depending
on the situation.
Those who told saw that as a useful juggling tool.Two mentioned
they use scripts for this.
Those who didnt:Dont want them to think I dont have time to work
with them.Wouldnt want them to feel neglectedWants them to feel
special from attention they are gettingBelieves they might see that
as poor customer service
Let them think you are working on their question.
Middle dependent on situationReally busy- Long complex ? &
want to answer a short MI ? - on pick-up better to answer & ask
to wait than leave sitting
19Something to doFour librarians described giving the user
something to do, then getting back to them after spending time on
Asking them to describe what they have already triedWhy dont you
spend some time looking at this resource and Ill check back with
you in a few minutes.
20Follow-up & ReferralsFour mentioned referring complex
questions to follow-up or providing contact info for subject
21Multiple WindowsSome mentioned many open windows as a problem
(or at least annoyance); one librarian developed a 1 window per
From the policy page, use the mouse wheel to click on links so
pages open in tabs.
double monitors22The Open WindowTwo librarians mentioned that
they dont hurry to close out questions that seem finished
- patrons sometimes came back with follow-up questions.
(one usually waits for student to close)And has gotten responses
30 minutes later
Downside delay in delivering transcripts23Better with PracticeA
few reported that they felt stressed when juggling multiple
But, a few also reported that with practice they have no more
anxiety juggling more than one.
Have asked if they want to be transferred when other MI
librarian became available, but theyve always wanted to continue