Assisting from Afar
Today I was scheduled all day to monitor email reference, which means that I was also expected to reply to any queries that came in via our email reference form and to also followup on chat reference sessions that had been marked as needing more work. Since today was the official first day of classes at Baruch, the questions that I was handling were mostly from students wondering whether a specific textbook was in the library. I did get a really juicy question that first went to the interlibrary loan department (for reasons that are a little unclear) and was passed along later to me. A professor needed help completing citiations for some books published in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was fun to dive deep into searches in WorldCat and Google Books to track down the missing information. After receiving my detailed email reply, the professor wrote me a great thank you note.
(By way of explanation for the heading for this section, I should note that I was always taken by an idea frequently expressed by Anne Lipow, reference librarian extraordinaire, who with a wonderful service ethic reframed the picture of digital reference as “remote reference” by noting that it’s not that the patron is remote from us when they use digital reference services, it’s we in the library who are remote from the user.)
Planning a Mobile Services Page
I met with the head of collection management, Mike Waldman, to talk about what I’ve gotten done so far in my semester-long project to put together a mobile-friendly website that links to all the databases we subscribe to that happen to have interfaces designed for mobile devices. I’ve been slowly building up a page in our LibGuides system, as the pages automatically render themselves in format optimized for mobile browsers any time you visit a page in a phone’s browser. So far, I’ve set up the mobile interfaces for all the EBSCOhost databases. Some of the other major platforms we get important databases on–ProQuest, Factiva, LexisNexis–have mobile interfaces yet, nor does our Ex Libris Aleph catalog (although we’re looking into options for that). I can’t wait to finish the page I’m working on and release it to our users, as it will be surprising to them (and to some of my colleagues) to see how many resources already work on phones (and by work, I mean you probably wouldn’t want to do much more than known item searches even though exploratory search works in fine albeit tedious fashion).
At our regular Tech Sharecase (a twice a month, informal discussion group of mostly library staff), a bunch of us brought gadgets and gizmos to share. We had iPads, Kindles, smarthphones, MP3 players, digital cameras, digital picture frames, and a cool pen that records audio and captures electronically all the notes you write. I haven’t written the blog post about this event yet but will early next week (you can see what else we’ve talked about at previous Tech Sharecase meetings).
Tweaking Our Federated Search Tool
I spent some time in the afternoon looking at various admin options in BearCat Search, our federated search tool powered by Serials Solution’s 360 Search. Recently, the chief librarians at each of the CUNY schools decided that we’d sunset the name we’ve long used for our shared union catalog, CUNY+, and instead just refer to it as “the library catalog.” One thing I tweaked in BearCat Search was to make sure that CUNY+ was changed over to “library catalog.”
- Library Day in the Life: Monday
- Library Day in the Life: Tuesday
- Library Day in the Life: Wednesday
- Library Day in the Life: Thursday