Teens are from Neptune, librarians are from Pluto: an analysis of online reference transactions.
As part of a project to evaluate the effectiveness of Tutor.com's Live Homework Help service A homework help service is a company, organization, or web-site that provides tutors specifically for assisting students with their homework. Some homework help services charge a fee, but most are free. , the authors examined over 100 transcripts of online transactions between teens and the virtual reference librarians in California who connect students to Live Homework Help tutors. Using content analysis, the authors document and discuss the difference in online communication styles between teens and adults. In addition, the transactions are measured against Reference and User Services Association's (RUSA RUSA Reference and User Services Association (American Library Association)
RUSA Randonneurs USA (endurance cycling)
RuSa Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire (gaming) ) reference performance guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks. and are found to be severely lacking in the qualities required for effective reference service. Recommendations are made within the context of positive library service to young adults, including recommendations on how to make virtual reference encounters with teens more responsive to their homework needs.
In 1992 family therapist John Gray published the self-help book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex. The cover of the 2004 paperback edition claims that more than fourteen million copies have been sold (Gray, 2004). The title has become a watchword for the seemingly galactic ga·lac·tic
1. Relating to milk.
2. Promoting the flow of milk.
1. pertaining to milk.
2. galactagogue. gaps in communication that can occur when people with different values and worldviews try to have a dialogue. The authors of this article were reminded of that watchword when they were charged with evaluating Live Homework Help, an online tutoring Online tutoring refers to the process by which knowledge is imparted from a tutor, knowledge provider or expert to a student or knowledge recipient over the Internet. Online tutoring has been around almost as long as the Internet and takes the following form:
program funded by the California State Library The California State Library collects, preserves, generates and disseminates a wide array of information. It was founded in 1850 by the California State Legislature. Today, it is the central reference and research library for state government and the Legislature. . The service originally provided access to Tutor.com at designated hours at thirty libraries throughout the state. In 2003 the service was expanded to allow students to access the tutoring assistance program from their home computers by connecting through the state's 24/7 online reference service. We have analyzed an·a·lyze
tr.v. an·a·lyzed, an·a·lyz·ing, an·a·lyz·es
1. To examine methodically by separating into parts and studying their interrelations.
2. Chemistry To make a chemical analysis of.
3. 114 transcripts of transactions between teens and the 24/7 librarians. In this article we focus primarily on the communication gap that we discovered between the librarians and the teens. We situate sit·u·ate
tr.v. sit·u·at·ed, sit·u·at·ing, sit·u·ates
1. To place in a certain spot or position; locate.
2. To place under particular circumstances or in a given condition.
adj. our discussion within the overall context of library service to young adults. Within that context, we analyze the transactions using two different frameworks: the guidelines for effective reference performance and the basic tenets of critical discourse analysis Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of discourse, which views "language as a form of social practice" (Fairclough 1989: 20) and focuses on the ways social and political domination is reproduced by text and talk. .
PUBLIC LIBRARY SERVICE TO YOUNG ADULTS
While teens are heavy users of public libraries, they are still relatively unrecognized as a specialized target market. A 1995 report from the National Center for Education Statistics The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), as part of the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), collects, analyzes, and publishes statistics on education and public school district finance information in the United States; conducts studies reported that only 11 percent of all public libraries in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. employ a young adult librarian, a figure that had not changed since the 1980s (U.S. Department of Education, 1995, p. iii). Librarians who do serve teens, however, are strong advocates for their clients. Through their involvement with the Young Adult Library Services Association The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), established in 1957, is a division of the American Library Association. The mission of YALSA is to advocate, promote and strengthen service to young adults as part of the continuum of total library service, and to support those , they draw strength from their peers and lobby the larger library field for more attention.
Current notions of good practice in public library service to young adults are based on the principles of youth development. Patrick Jones describes this approach in New Directions for Library Service to Young Adults (2002) as a means for supporting teens as they move from childhood to adulthood. This document, bearing the imprimatur of the Young Adult Library Services Association, includes a checklist of services that libraries might provide to achieve the mission of positive youth development. The first item on this checklist is "Develops and offers reference and information services See Information Systems. for young adults which provide a positive experience for the customer" (p. 63).
Youth development is also the centerpiece of Walter and Meyers's (2003) vision of effective young adult library services Young Adult Library Services (ISSN 1541-4302) is a quarterly journal published by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of Chicago, Illinois.
This journal supersedes the Journal of Youth Services (JOYS), which was published by YALSA and the Association . They present six developmental outcomes that teens need to make a successful transition to their adult years:
* Contribute to their community.
* Feel safe in their environment
* Have meaningful relationships with adults and peers
* Achieve educational success
* Develop marketable skills.
* Develop personal and social skills (Walter and Meyers, 2003, p. 44)
This focus on youth development may be more normative nor·ma·tive
Of, relating to, or prescribing a norm or standard: normative grammar.
nor than actual, however. It is operationalized in most instances through the mechanism of youth participation, usually through youth advisory councils of various sorts. In practice, young adults are served largely through the traditional mechanisms of reference and reading promotion.
There is some evidence that, if teens could design their own library services, they would put less emphasis on these traditional services in favor of more homework assistance and improved access to the Internet. A small study conducted in the state of Florida ranked the strategies that are most effective in attracting teens to libraries. Both the young adults and librarians agreed that the top three priorities were Internet access See how to access the Internet. , volunteer opportunities, and school-related research (Bishop & Bauer, 2002). As part of a project for the Public Libraries as Partners in Youth Development initiative, Meyers also found that teens want libraries to offer more access to technology, longer hours, fewer restrictive rules and fees, and more help with homework projects and research (Meyers, 1999).
Linda Braun has been a particularly convincing advocate for the development of relevant library-based Internet services for teens. She observes a gap between the Internet services that young adults want and need and those provided by libraries. In particular, she finds that libraries have been slow to give teens access to the online chat and instant messaging Exchanging text messages in real time between two or more people logged into a particular instant messaging (IM) service. Instant messaging is more interactive than e-mail because messages are sent immediately, whereas e-mail messages can be queued up in a mail server for seconds or media that they find so appealing (Braun, 2002, p. vii).
Homework has been defined as "tasks assigned to students by schoolteachers that are meant to be carried out during non-school hours" (Cooper & Valentine, 2001, p. 145). Teachers assign homework for various reasons, including: (1) to encourage students to practice skills or expound ex·pound
v. ex·pound·ed, ex·pound·ing, ex·pounds
1. To give a detailed statement of; set forth: expounded the intricacies of the new tax law.
2. on concepts learned in class; (2) to prepare for the next lesson or class discussion; (3) to foster the student's personal development through increased responsibility, time management, self-confidence, and sense of accomplishment; (4) to promote communication within the family; (5) to promote parent-teacher communication; (6) to enhance peer interactions through group study; and (7) as punishment (Cosden et al., 2001; Epstein & Van Voorhis, 2001; Warton, 2001). Although educators agree that punishment is not necessarily a valid reason for assigning work, the students themselves may consider homework a punitive exercise if their assignments are confusing or poorly constructed (Epstein & Van Voorhis, 2001). As one researcher noted, parents and teachers alike cite class assignments "as a source of considerable difficulty and conflict at home and school," often leading to student frustration, procrastination, and noncompliance noncompliance
failure of the owner to follow instructions, particularly in administering medication as prescribed; a cause of a less than expected response to treatment.
noncompliance (Warton, 2001, p. 155). Not surprisingly, a majority of young adults recently surveyed by Teenage Research Unlimited indicated that homework was among their least favorite school-related activities (cited in Zollo, 1999, p. 279).
A large majority of the reference questions asked by kids are homework based. Helping students with their homework often has a profound impact on library services and may be the source of much staff frustration (Gross, 2000). In the early 1990s Sager asked several administrators to define the public library's role in facilitating education. No consensus emerged, although one director adamantly ad·a·mant
Impervious to pleas, appeals, or reason; stubbornly unyielding. See Synonyms at inflexible.
1. A stone once believed to be impenetrable in its hardness.
2. An extremely hard substance. advised that it "would be a grave mistake to assign an additional mission to the public library, specifically one in education ... [as] we most likely would end-up with an institution that would do two jobs inadequately instead of one barely adequately" (Sager, 1992, p. 15). Sager subsequently described the rift between libraries and schools as a "blackboard (1) See Blackboard Learning System.
(2) The traditional classroom presentation board that is written on with chalk and erased with a felt pad. Although originally black, "white" boards and colored chalks are also used. curtain" that prevents librarians from fully serving K-12 students (Sager, 1997, p. 23).
There is evidence that librarians treat school assignments as "second-class" reference questions and that students are, intentionally in·ten·tion·al
1. Done deliberately; intended: an intentional slight. See Synonyms at voluntary.
2. Having to do with intention. or not, made to feel alienated al·ien·ate
tr.v. al·ien·at·ed, al·ien·at·ing, al·ien·ates
1. To cause to become unfriendly or hostile; estrange: alienate a friend; alienate potential supporters by taking extreme positions. when using the library. College students have classified librarians as "those who like to point, those who like to help, and those who hate kids" (Gross, 2000, p. 14). The teens interviewed by Meyers confirm this stereotype stereotype (stĕr`ĕətīp'), plate from which printing is done, made by casting metal in a mold, usually of paper pulp. The process was patented in 1725 by the Scottish inventor William Ged. , saying that librarians "always have something better to do" than help students (Meyers, 1999, p. 44).
Not all librarians ignore the needs of students, however. Around the country many public libraries have begun offering formal homework assistance after school, in the evening, or during the weekend. Preliminary research has shown that this type of service results in positive outcomes (Mediavilla, 2001). In a study sponsored by the American Library Association American Library Association, founded 1876, organization whose purpose is to increase the usefulness of books through the improvement and extension of library services. , Walter and Mediavilla discovered that teens receiving homework help in public libraries not only achieve educational success; they may also develop important social skills by interacting with classmates Classmates can refer to either:
In 1999 one out of every seven public libraries surveyed by the American Library Association delivered some form of after-school homework assistance, ranging from telephone hotlines to formal tutoring programs (American Library Association, 1999). A more recent survey conducted in New Jersey revealed that nearly 32 percent of public libraries statewide provided homework help specifically to teens. As investigators Winston and Paone noted, however, there are "a number of opportunities for enhancing service provision in this area" (2001, p. 50).
Reference services, in general, and homework assistance, in particular, took a dramatic turn in the late-1990s with the exploding popularity of the Internet. In 1998 an Ohio public library trustee asked a random sample of people what source they used first when seeking information. Twenty-four percent listed the library, while 23 percent answered that the Internet was their first choice for information. When the trustee repeated the study two years later, 36 percent of the respondents said they preferred the Internet as their primary information source, while only 12 percent said they went first to the library (cited in Coffman, 2003, p. 6). During the same period, researchers noted a 44 percent increase in homework questions asked of digital reference services Digital reference is a service by which library reference service is conducted online, and the reference transaction is a computer-mediated communication.
The word "reference" in this context refers to the task of providing assistance to library users in finding information, , such as KidsConnect, Ask Dr. Math, Ask a NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Independent U.S. Scientist, and Ask Professor Construction (Lankes, 2003).
Recognizing their patrons' reliance on the Internet, librarians began offering virtual reference services via email in the mid-1990s. Questions were received electronically, usually by way of an "Ask the Librarian" link from the library's home page. Several hours later, an answer would be delivered to the patron through email. Although revolutionary at the time, the process was clunky at best, with patrons having to wait for responses that were very one-sided based on the librarian's interpretation of the initial question (Coffman, 2003).
Eventually, emailed transactions gave way to live, synchronous Refers to events that are synchronized, or coordinated, in time. For example, the interval between transmitting A and B is the same as between B and C, and completing the current operation before the next one is started are considered synchronous operations. Contrast with asynchronous. "chat reference," which Francoeur defines as a service "where the core of communication between librarian and user is an exchange of text messages sent in real-time" (2001, p. 190). The advantages of such service include interactivity, anonymity, speed of response, and the ability for the librarian and patron to co-browse the Internet together (Janes, 2002; Fagan & Desai, 2003; Kresh, 2003; and Coffman, 2003). Janes also admits that virtual reference is "cool." As he suggests, "Synchronous technologies may appeal to groups of users we don't currently serve well, particularly the young, who are addicted ad·dict·ed
1. Physiologically or psychologically dependent on a habit-forming substance.
2. Compulsively or habitually involved in a practice or behavior, such as gambling. to the social nature of instant messaging and chat technologies" (Janes, 2002, p. 13).
Although much has been written about college students using chat reference for homework and research assistance (see, for example, Blank, 2003; Broughton, 2003; and Dunn & Morgan, 2003), few articles have addressed adolescents' use of similar services. Instead, the literature has focused on the "best practices" of the few public libraries that offer in-house computerized homework centers for teens (for example, Mondowney, 1996; Sternin, 1998; Denny, 2000; and Gorman, 2002) or that have created Web portals See portal. to online homework sites (Bryan, 2002). Morris County Library in New Jersey developed a homework chat service for school kids in 2001, but it failed after only three months due to students' lack of interest (Weissman, 2001).
LINKING HOMEWORK ASSISTANCE WITH VIRTUAL REFERENCE
In 2001 Tutor.com introduced Live Homework Help, an online, interactive homework assistance program that connects fourth-twelfth graders to tutors via the Internet. Synchronous homework help is provided on several topics by subject experts who are also certified teachers A certified teacher is a teacher who has earned credentials from an authoritative source, such as the government, a higher education institution or a private source. These certifications allow teachers to teach in schools which require authorization in general, as well as allowing , college professors, graduate students, and professional tutors (Kohn, 2003). Teens appreciate the service because it is anonymous, immediate, and personalized per·son·al·ize
tr.v. per·son·al·ized, per·son·al·iz·ing, per·son·al·iz·es
1. To take (a general remark or characterization) in a personal manner.
2. To attribute human or personal qualities to; personify. (Gerhardt, 2004).
Nearly 600 libraries nationwide subscribe to Verb 1. subscribe to - receive or obtain regularly; "We take the Times every day"
buy, purchase - obtain by purchase; acquire by means of a financial transaction; "The family purchased a new car"; "The conglomerate acquired a new company"; Live Homework Help, including those in Brooklyn, San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay. County, Prince George Prince George, city (1991 pop. 69,653), central British Columbia, Canada, at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako rivers. It is a railroad division point and a distribution center for a lumber region. County, and San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden (Tutor.com, 2004). In California the Live Homework Help program is provided by the California State Library, which funds the project through federal Library Services and TechnologT Act monies (Minkel, 2002). Statewide service was also recently adopted in Alaska, Colorado, and Ohio (Statewide VR, 2004).
Because of the expense, few California libraries subscribe directly to Live Homework Help. Therefore, most California students who want to connect to the service from their homes must do so through the state's virtual reference service, called AskNow. Although many students ask to be connected to Live Homework Help as soon as they log onto AskNow, many others must first interact with a virtual librarian before being referred to a tutor. This interaction, which may or may not be successful in identifying the student's true information need, is the subject of this study.
The advantages of using transcripts as a means of assessing virtual reference transactions have been touted by Whitlach (2001), Fagan and Desai (2003), and Coffman (2003). As Ward enthusiastically reports, "every single online reference interview can be captured in its entirety for later examination," enabling "routine analysis of the interview in ways not previously available through traditional means" (2003, p. 46).
To tease out tease
v. teased, teas·ing, teas·es
1. To annoy or pester; vex.
2. To make fun of; mock playfully.
3. the librarian behaviors that helped or hindered student access to online homework assistance, we examined 114 transcripts from the virtual reference sessions that ended in referrals to Live Homework Help between October 12 and November 8, 2003. One hundred fifteen transcripts were provided by the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System, which at the time oversaw o·ver·saw
Past tense of oversee. the AskNow virtual reference service in California. One transcript was discarded dis·card
v. dis·card·ed, dis·card·ing, dis·cards
1. To throw away; reject.
a. To throw out (a playing card) from one's hand.
b. because the transaction was obliterated o·blit·er·ate
tr.v. o·blit·er·at·ed, o·blit·er·at·ing, o·blit·er·ates
1. To do away with completely so as to leave no trace. See Synonyms at abolish.
2. by an "administrative failure" message.
Applying the Tenets of Model Reference Behavior
We conducted two successive analyses of the transcripts. First, each transcript was measured against a "Virtual Reference Behavior Checklist" that attempted to capture the various behaviors required for conducting a successful reference interview. The checklist, loosely modeled on the form developed by Gers and Seward (1985, p. 34), was based on the tenets outlined in the Reference and User Services Association's (RUSA) "Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers" (RUSA, 2004). These guidelines, which were recently revised to include standards for "remote" (that is, virtual) reference transactions, address behaviors related to approachability, interest (for example, clarification and keeping the patron informed), listening and inquiring inquiring,
v to draw information from a client—whether by verbal questioning or physical examination—to assess the person's state of health. (for example, probing, paraphrasing, and communicating clearly), searching (for example, explaining the search strategy, finding the appropriate material, and making appropriate referrals), and follow-up (for example, asking if further information is needed and/or if the question has been answered). Demonstration of these behaviors was ranked as "strong evidence," "evidence," "no evidence," or "not applicable." (See the Appendix, p. 227.)
The checklist also incorporated behaviors described by Gross (2000) as being unique to homework transactions--for example, helping the student interpret the homework question, verifying a mutual understanding of the question, encouraging the student to solve the homework problem, advising on alternative solutions and methods, and reassuring the student. In addition, we made note of the general subject (for example, math, social studies, etc.) of each homework question, as well as the length of each transaction. Particular attention was paid to how long the student had to wait for the chat session to begin.
Of the 114 referrals made by the 24/7 librarians, 40 percent (46 referrals) were made as a direct result of students requesting either a tutor, Live Homework Help, or "the website for tutors." All other patrons represented their queries as reference questions, only to be eventually referred to Live Homework Help after the librarian surmised that a tutor was needed. A great majority (60 percent) of the homework queries were math problems, while only 8 percent were science related. Nine students needed help with social studies/history/civics questions, seven had English composition and grammar problems, and two presented French language questions (see Table 1).
The 24/7 encounters were as short as one minute and as long as an hour, with the average session lasting eleven minutes Eleven Minutes (Onze Minutos) is a 2003 novel by Paulo Coelho based around a young prostitute named Maria. Plot introduction
Maria, from the interior of Brazil, goes to seek her fortune in Switzerland, only to find that reality is harsher than she . A majority of the transactions lasted seven minutes or less. Longer sessions resulted when librarians were busy, causing patrons to wait for assistance. Waiting for seven to twenty minutes to be connected to a librarian was not uncommon, with one unfortunate student having to wait forty minutes before his query was handled.
Although some librarians conducted thorough interviews and even referred the students to math or other suitable Web sites, for the most part the encounters were brief and heavily one-sided as patrons were quickly--and sometimes inappropriately--referred to Live Homework Help. Even worse, the referrals were often made without consulting the patron first, causing some students to express confusion when suddenly confronted by the Live Homework Help Web page. Very few of the librarians clarified or confirmed their understanding of the question and only two librarians helped the student interpret the homework assignment. Almost all librarians communicated clearly, but several (twenty-two) failed to give a friendly greeting when first encountering the patron. Only 32 percent of the librarians probed the students for more information when deciding how to proceed with the question. Even fewer (17 percent) bothered to check if the patron understood the information provided (see Table 2).
Applying Principles of Critical Discourse Analysis
Discourse analysis Discourse analysis (DA), or discourse studies, is a general term for a number of approaches to analyzing written, spoken or signed language use.
The objects of discourse analysis—discourse, writing, , conversation, communicative event, etc. is generally understood to be a method for looking at language used in particular contexts as a form of social practice (Fairclough, 1995, p. 7). It studies talk or communication as a means for producing knowledge or meaning in concrete situations or institutions and aims to clarify the perspectives and points of view on which that knowledge and meaning is produced (Talja, 1999, pp. 460-461). Frohman (1994) has utilized Foucaultian discourse analysis to examine ways in which information, its uses, and its users are discursively dis·cur·sive
1. Covering a wide field of subjects; rambling.
2. Proceeding to a conclusion through reason rather than intuition. constructed. Budd and Raber (1996) have also argued that discourse analysis is a particularly appropriate methodology for library and information science research because of its grounding in communication and its utility in examining both written and spoken texts. They have used this method to look at the social, political, and technical uses of the word "information" and their implications for theory and practice. By applying the lens of discourse analysis, we observed two significant phenomena that further contribute to our understanding of the online transactions between teens and librarians: the negotiation of power relations and the communication of nonverbal non·ver·bal
1. Being other than verbal; not involving words: nonverbal communication.
2. Involving little use of language: a nonverbal intelligence test. messages.
Negotiating Power Relations Online Fairclough's approach to discourse analysis is grounded in critical studies and seeks to understand how language reveals and/or maintains the power relations in social situations. He describes the ways in which people develop what he calls "discursive dis·cur·sive
1. Covering a wide field of subjects; rambling.
2. Proceeding to a conclusion through reason rather than intuition. conventions" that embody em·bod·y
tr.v. em·bod·ied, em·bod·y·ing, em·bod·ies
1. To give a bodily form to; incarnate.
2. To represent in bodily or material form: certain ideologies or roles. The examples he gives include the language of medical consultations and crime reports (Fairclough, 1995, p. 94). We see examples of these discursive conventions in typical reference interviews. Some of these conventions, as noted in the previous section, are intended by librarians to routinize rou·tin·ize
tr.v. rou·tin·ized, rou·tin·iz·ing, rou·tin·iz·es
1. To establish a routine for.
2. To reduce to a routine: or standardize stan·dard·ize
1. To cause to conform to a standard.
2. To evaluate by comparing with a standard. good practices in reference work. By asking the patron, "Did I fully and completely answer your question?" for example, the librarian is requesting feedback from the patron and trying to ensure a satisfactory conclusion to the reference transaction. Fairclough points out, however, that these conventions, used by most professionals in their interactions with clients, also serve to reinforce the professional's superior position vis-a-vis the help-seeker. The formal language of the professional is a distinct contrast to the more informal and less precise language of the client. He notes that in some situations the less privileged participant in such discourse situations will struggle to replace those discourse conventions with other devices that feel more comfortable to them. We observed this phenomenon over and over again in the online transactions between librarians and teens seeking access to homework assistance.
In almost every instance, the librarians made no attempt to transcend the impersonal im·per·son·al
1. Lacking personality; not being a person: an impersonal force.
a. Showing no emotion or personality: an aloof, impersonal manner. anonymity that the chat reference situation makes possible. They relied on the stock phrases that their pull-down menus Also called a "drop-down menu" or "pop-down menu," the common type of menu used with a graphical user interface (GUI). Clicking a menu title causes the menu items to appear to drop down from that position and be displayed. allow them to make at the press of a button:
* "We are experiencing a very busy time right now."
* "I am going to send you a page which will give you some help with your homework. After we disconnect disconnect - SCSI reconnect this session, click on this link and follow the instructions to be connected with a tutor. Please do not click on any links on this page until after we have disconnected."
* "We answer questions in the order that we receive them, and we need to finish helping the people who logged in before you. If you will continue holding, we will help you as soon as we can. If you would like us to email you with a response, please type this information: 1) Your email address See Internet address. , 2) Your deadline, and 3) Anything else that will help us in our search."
The teens who were trying to connect--both electronically and personally--with the librarians often did not realize that they were receiving a canned response Canned responses are predetermined responses to common questions, frequently used in text based environments. They may be triggered by a single keystroke, such as a function key, or by some combination of keys. . One teen responded to the last message above, "ok! Sorry." Another student wrote back, "take your time," followed by the ubiquitous smiley See emoticon.
smiley - emoticon emoticon (EMOTional ICON) Also called a "smiley" or "smiley face," it is an expression of emotion typed into a message using standard keyboard characters. The following examples are viewed sideways. Tilt your head down toward your left shoulder. .
Some teens, almost certainly repeat users of Live Homework Help, were as businesslike busi·ness·like
1. Showing or having characteristics advantageous to or of use in business; methodical and systematic.
2. Purposeful; earnest.
3. as the librarians in their interaction. They would begin the transaction with a quick request to connect with a tutor. These students were familiar with the necessary online protocol and had downloaded the software needed to access the Tutor.com site. Here the automatic responses from the librarians were effective, as long as there was not a problem with the electronic connection.
In many cases, however, the student just started out with a question. Then it took longer for the librarian and student to sort out their roles and responsibilities. In a few cases, the teen did not know that he had reached a librarian. "Oh, I thought you were a tutor," one replied when the librarian offered to connect him with Live Homework Help. If the question dealt with math, the librarian in almost every case referred the student immediately to the tutoring service rather than dealing with it as a reference question. In a few cases, however, the librarian began by offering reference assistance using the Web-based resources on which online reference service depends. A look at one session of this nature is instructive in·struc·tive
Conveying knowledge or information; enlightening.
in·structive·ly adv. for what it tells us about the librarian's perception of her professional role and her strategies for maintaining it. In the interests of readability read·a·ble
1. Easily read; legible: a readable typeface.
2. Pleasurable or interesting to read: a readable story. , some of the grammar has been cleaned up, but the spelling and punctuation punctuation [Lat.,=point], the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used; the term also refers to the signs themselves. In every language, besides the sounds of the words that are strung together there are other features, such as tone, accent, and have been left intact.
Student: I just need help finding some links to science fair projects. [smiley]
Librarian: Hello. We are experiencing a very busy time right now. What grade are you in, so I can find out what kind of links to send you. Do you need links to help you find a project? Or links to info about a specific project.
Student: i.e. want to find something about plants. [smiley] I am in 7th grade.
Librarian: Ok. I will look.
Student: take your time [smiley]
Librarian: Hi [student's name] : I am sending you a list of science fair pages. [Item sent.] Please look through this and let me know if they help.
[Four additional web pages are transmitted, one on science fairs, one on search strategies, one on plants, and one on photosynthesis.]
Librarian: Is this helping?
Student: uh ...
[One more web page on photosynthesis sent]
Student: can you help me find something, or ANYTHING about plants
Librarian: It isn't helping?
Librarian: Are you looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. science fair projects you can do with plants? Here is a list about plants. [Item sent.]
Student: uh ... I just need help on finding something like ... "does pressure affect the way how leaves grow." I don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. ... something like that. Aaa! My project is due on Monday!!, well, not the project, the IDEA of the project, and I must write 9 pages about it. [frowney]
Librarian: Did that list I just sent help? [2 items sent] Would you like to speak to a tutor? I think a tutor would be better able to help you. I am a librarian. [Sends link to Live Homework Help.] I am going to send you a page which will give you some help with your homework. After we disconnect this session, click on this link and follow the instructions to be connected with a tutor. Please do not click on any links on this page until after we have disconnected. [Student's name.] Can you see the tutor site?
Student:? okay. Well ... thanks anyways an·y·ways
In any case.
Adv. 1. anyways - used to indicate that a statement explains or supports a previous statement; "Anyhow, he is dead now"; "I think they're asleep; anyhow, they're quiet"; "I [smiley]
Librarian: I just sent you a site to connect to a tutor. Here it is again. [Sends URL URL
in full Uniform Resource Locator
Address of a resource on the Internet. The resource can be any type of file stored on a server, such as a Web page, a text file, a graphics file, or an application program. .]
Librarian: [Sends URL for the third time.]
Student: I don't see it. [frowney]
Librarian: I just sent it in our conversation too. Yon can open it up in another browser window. Do you know how to do that? [Student's name?] [Student's name], it looks like we have been disconnected.
Now, this is actually a very patient and helpful librarian. She uses the student's name. She tries to clarify the student's request. She sends multiple resources. It takes less than fifteen minutes, however, for her to decide that the child needs a tutor, not a librarian. "I think a tutor would be better able to help you. I am a librarian."
Another librarian was more emphatic about what she could and could not do as a librarian. The student opened the transaction: "I was doing a project for school and I need to invent something and I need help, I don't have any ideas." This eleventh grader eventually communicates that she has a history assignment to invent something or make a labor-saving device. The librarian tries to send a Web site that is an idea exchange for things that people would like to see invented, but the student does not receive it. "That sounds great but I didn't get anything." Librarian resends the link and asks, "Can I help you with anything else?" The student tries to engage her personally: "Do you need anything invented to help you?" The librarian responds. "Reference librarians are here to answer questions and to make referrals to other sources of information. We cannot give advice." The student says "ok" and is linked to Live Homework Help. Another student asks: "Can you answer this? Y=2x-4 7x-5y=14." The librarian responds: "Hello, this is the reference librarian. I'm reading your question ... [Student's name], this is a question for a homework tutor. We are an information service. I can direct you to a tutor. Would you like me to do that now?" The student says, "if you can please." A fourth librarian made a very fine distinction in response to a student who asked, "What should I put on a poster for recruiting crew members for Amerigo Vespucci's voyages?" She said, "Well, I can give you information on the voyages, but I cannot advise you about creating your poster."
It could be argued that the librarians' efforts to clarify their roles in the above transcripts were intended to help the students get the help they really needed. These were among the more helpful librarians whose transcripts we analyzed. With the exception of the librarian faced with a math problem, they all at least tried to help with conventional information resources (1) The data and information assets of an organization, department or unit. See data administration.
(2) Another name for the Information Systems (IS) or Information Technology (IT) department. See IT. . Almost certainly a math tutor would be able to help the student get started with the algebra algebra, branch of mathematics concerned with operations on sets of numbers or other elements that are often represented by symbols. Algebra is a generalization of arithmetic and gains much of its power from dealing symbolically with elements and operations (such as problem. Perhaps the online tutors would indeed be more effective than the librarian in helping the teens think through the science fair project or come up with an idea for a new laborsaving la·bor·sav·ing
Designed to conserve human energy in performing work or to decrease the amount of human labor needed.
Adj. 1. device. Who could best help the student at a loss as to how to make a poster recruiting crew members for Vespucci's voyages? We would argue that even these conscientious con·sci·en·tious
1. Guided by or in accordance with the dictates of conscience; principled: a conscientious decision to speak out about injustice.
2. librarians would have served their young patrons better by more genuine and authentic communication strategies and less reliance on the discursive conventions that enabled them to maintain control over the transaction and decide the parameters of their helping behavior.
Most students acquiesced passively when the librarian referred them to a tutor or said they could no longer help. Many young people, however, tried to subvert the discourse by introducing a more personal tone--note the use of emoticons in the transcript above--or by confronting the librarian directly.
One boy, a repeat user, had the assignment to write about the two things he would bring if he were going to be in the mountains for one year. The librarian asks if he received the link to the tutor site. The boy replies, "ya, but you have to download it "Download It" is Clea's debut single. It was released in the UK on September 22, 2003 and missed the top 20 charting at #21. The single had average promotion, being performed in shows like Top of the Pops. ." The librarian tries to explain what he needs to do to open the site. The boy retorts: "Dude, im in fifth grade and my computer sucks and i need it by tomorrow." Another student, apparently frustrated frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: by the ten minute wait for a librarian to come online, asks, "Hello, is ther anybody there?" A little later: "Heloooooo!"
Sending Nonverbal Messages in a Text-Oriented Discourse Environment Chelton (1998) has documented the communication disconnects that occur when teens approach the reference desks in public libraries. She describes the controlling rituals that characterize librarians' interactions with middle school students. These face-to-face encounters include not only the language used to communicate between the two parties but also gestures, facial expressions facial expression,
n the use of the facial muscles to communicate or to convey mood. , tone of voice, and other nonverbal forms of communication. In theory, online communication lacks the emotive e·mo·tive
1. Of or relating to emotion: the emotive aspect of symbols.
2. Characterized by, expressing, or exciting emotion: element of nonverbal communication nonverbal communication 'Body language', see there . However, we observed affective affective /af·fec·tive/ (ah-fek´tiv) pertaining to affect.
1. Concerned with or arousing feelings or emotions; emotional.
2. as well as cognitive strategies employed by the teens and librarians as they struggled, not always successfully, to conduct online reference transactions. We documented some of these strategies in the previous section, noting how students tried repeatedly to inject in·ject
1. To introduce a substance, such as a drug or vaccine, into a body part.
2. To treat by means of injection. a less formal and more personal tone into these reference transactions. We believe that these represent efforts by the students to create a more comfortable discourse environment, one that is more like the chat rooms in which they communicate with their friends. For all of their familiarity with and fondness for electronic communication technology, most of the teens we observed online were not competent participants in the text-oriented discourse environment created by reference librarians. When teens go online with their friends, spelling is less important than rapid response, and capital letters and punctuation are nonexistent non·ex·is·tence
1. The condition of not existing.
2. Something that does not exist.
non . The aim is to connect. Content is almost irrelevant. Indeed, when teens go online with their friends, the medium is the message.
Here are a few more examples of teens' efforts to inject their colloquial col·lo·qui·al
1. Characteristic of or appropriate to the spoken language or to writing that seeks the effect of speech; informal.
2. Relating to conversation; conversational. and personal discourse styles into their reference interviews. In one session, the librarian signs off saying "goodbye for now "Goodbye for Now" is the 22nd episode of the ABC television series, Desperate Housewives. The episode was the 22nd episode for the show's first season. The episode was written by Josh Senter and was directed by David Grossman. It originally aired on Sunday May 15, 2005. ." The student replies: "until we meet again lol. Lol bye." What was so funny that the student was "laughing out loud"? Another student introduces herself as "Aastha" and then explains, "Think of my name as pasta. Aastha pasta!" A student asks, "What does MCLS MCLS Metropolitan Cooperative Library System (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
MCLS Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome
MCLS Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services, Inc.
MCLS Mobilization Cross-Leveling System stand for?" The librarian replies, "Metropolitan Cooperative Library System." The student says, "cool." When the librarian gives him the standard message connecting him to the tutor, he says, "no problem." When the librarian sends a student a Web page from the University of Texas, the student says, "Whoa, I need something for begginners."
When students used more colloquial or informal language conventions, it appeared to be both their natural communication style for an online chat environment and also an effort to transform the reference transaction into a more familiar form of discourse. On the rare occasions when librarians abandoned their routine professional responses and injected in·ject·ed
1. Of or relating to a substance introduced into the body.
2. Of or relating to a blood vessel that is visibly distended with blood.
1. introduced by injection.
2. congested. a more personal comment, it read like an attempt to bridge the gap and reach out to the young person somewhere in cyberspace Coined by William Gibson in his 1984 novel "Neuromancer," it is a futuristic computer network that people use by plugging their minds into it! The term now refers to the Internet or to the online or digital world in general. See Internet and virtual reality. Contrast with meatspace. .
Earlier in this article we characterized contemporary good practice in public library service to young adults as being informed by the principles of youth development. The most reflective and up-to-date young adult librarians see their work as more than just providing teens with books and information. They are aiming at a broader objective: to help teens achieve the developmental outcomes of adolescence. While reading promotion and reference services are still at the heart of young adult library services, the mode of delivery and the nature of the relationship between the teen and the library staff have changed considerably in all current discussions of best practice. At their best, public libraries involve teens as meaningful participants in the planning and delivery of the services intended to benefit them. Librarians and other library staff work with teens in a relationship that is qualitatively different from the more paternalistic pa·ter·nal·ism
A policy or practice of treating or governing people in a fatherly manner, especially by providing for their needs without giving them rights or responsibilities. mode of providing services for teens. Libraries try to provide opportunities for teens to develop interpersonal skills "Interpersonal skills" refers to mental and communicative algorithms applied during social communications and interactions in order to reach certain effects or results. The term "interpersonal skills" is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person's ability through healthy relationships with peers and with adults. They work with teens to determine the kinds of informational and reading resources and services they need to meet their educational and personal objectives.
The librarians in the transcripts analyzed here presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. do not see themselves as young adult librarians. It is doubtful that many of them are aware of the prevailing trends in young adult services. There is certainly little evidence in the transcripts that they are trying to work with their teen clients; they do not even do much for them in the framework of traditional reference service.
The researchers did not have access to the librarians whose transactions were analyzed. We do not know their motives or intentions. We also do not know how they interacted with clients who asked questions that were not related to homework. Perhaps they failed to follow the principles of good reference practice with all of their clients. Perhaps they maintained the same rigorous professional distance with adult clients that they did with teens. What the transcripts do reveal is a conviction that homework questions are not the proper content for reference transactions.
Certainly the availability, of homework assistance programs in libraries or as adjuncts ADJUNCTS, English law. Additional judges appointed to determine causes in the High Court of Delegates, when the former judges cannot decide in consequence of disagreement, or because one of the law judges of the court was not one of the majority. Shelf. on Lun. 310. to online library reference services makes it possible to offer specialized services to students of all ages. The challenge that we have observed through our study of both onsite and online library-sponsored homework assistance is to guide the young person to the proper service, whether that is reference or homework assistance. We have observed librarians in face-to-face encounters direct students to Live Homework Help when it would have been more appropriate to show them an atlas or an encyclopedia encyclopedia, compendium of knowledge, either general (attempting to cover all fields) or specialized (aiming to be comprehensive in a particular field). Encyclopedias and Other Reference Books
article. We have also observed tutors giving inexpert reference assistance that librarians would have been more equipped to provide. The line between tutorial and librarian roles is blurry blur
v. blurred, blur·ring, blurs
1. To make indistinct and hazy in outline or appearance; obscure.
2. To smear or stain; smudge.
3. and awkward enough to manage when the parties are in the same building. The student may feel that he is getting the run-around when he is shunted back and forth between the reference desk and the homework center. The possibility for frustration increases exponentially ex·po·nen·tial
1. Of or relating to an exponent.
a. Containing, involving, or expressed as an exponent.
b. , however, when the student is being shunted between frequently incompatible software interfaces by anonymous adults in cyberspace.
Radford (2001) has posited that the interpersonal nature of the reference interview is critical to the perceived success of that encounter. In fact, for some patrons the human aspects of the reference transaction may actually be more important than the information received (p. 30). Likewise, RUSA's (2004) guidelines for effective reference performance remind librarians that "the success of the transaction is measured not only by the information conveyed, but also by the positive or negative impact of the patron/staff interaction." Therefore, the first standard of good reference service is approachability--that is, making patrons feel comfortable "in a situation that may be perceived as intimidating in·tim·i·date
tr.v. in·tim·i·dat·ed, in·tim·i·dat·ing, in·tim·i·dates
1. To make timid; fill with fear.
2. To coerce or inhibit by or as if by threats. , risky, confusing, and overwhelming" (RUSA, 2004). The librarian who displays a helpful, patient, and reassuring attitude sets the scene for a successful reference encounter (Radford, 2001, p. 30).
Although projecting a welcoming demeanor The outward physical behavior and appearance of a person.
Demeanor is not merely what someone says but the manner in which it is said. Factors that contribute to an individual's demeanor include tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, and carriage. is more difficult in the virtual realm, librarians have found ways to do this when serving remote patrons. Showing interest in the student's topic, adding humor humor, according to ancient theory, any of four bodily fluids that determined man's health and temperament. Hippocrates postulated that an imbalance among the humors (blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile) resulted in pain and disease, and that good health was , and giving positive feedback are all ways to exude ex·ude
To ooze or pass gradually out of a body structure or tissue. warmth during instant messaging (Fagan & Desai, 2003). In addition, Fagan and Desai recommend avoiding library jargon jargon, pejorative term applied to speech or writing that is considered meaningless, unintelligible, or ugly. In one sense the term is applied to the special language of a profession, which may be unnecessarily complicated, e.g., "medical jargon. and "robot-like instructions" (p. 132). Janes (2003) suggests that librarians must appreciate and understand the etiquette etiquette, name for the codes of rules governing social or diplomatic intercourse. These codes vary from the more or less flexible laws of social usage (differing according to local customs or taboos) to the rigid conventions of court and military circles, and they and lingo Lingo - An animation scripting language.
[MacroMind Director V3.0 Interactivity Manual, MacroMind 1991]. of instant messaging if they want teens to take the library's virtual reference service seriously. Furthermore, librarians may have to abandon their strict adherence to accurate grammar and spelling when helping students via the Internet. For many teens, a fast-moving conversation is far more important than correct spelling and punctuation (Fagan & Desai, 2003; Janes, 2002).
Finally, it is imperative that the librarian clarify the student's real information need, whether the child is standing across the reference desk or seated at home in front of a computer. This is especially critical with imposed homework questions that may not be all that clear to the student (Gross, 2000). Jones has called this phenomenon the "garbled assignment," often requiring the librarian's intervention in helping the student interpret the teacher's intent (cited in Ross, Nilson, and Dewdney, 2002, p. 147). Fagan and Desai (2003) and Ross, Nilson, and Dewdney (2002) urge librarians to work with young people to develop a mutual understanding of the homework question, while Shenton and Dixon (2004) emphasize the need to help students develop appropriate search strategies.
Kuhlthau (2004) has documented the affective dimensions of information-seeking behavior. Her research has highlighted the anxiety and uncertainty that students experience when they are faced with the need to do library research. She describes the information-seeking process as an effort to seek or create meaning. In the reference transactions that we analyzed, the teens attempted to create meaning by recreating the chat discourse environment in which they were most at home. Librarians, however, tried to create meaning in a parallel discourse environment that duplicated as much as possible the standard impersonal protocols of a face-to-face reference counter.
The World Wide Web promises so much to teens. Dan Tapscott (1998) makes a convincing case that these members of the "Net Generation" work, learn, and play differently from their elders because of their immersion immersion /im·mer·sion/ (i-mer´zhun)
1. the plunging of a body into a liquid.
2. the use of the microscope with the object and object glass both covered with a liquid. in the culture of cyberspace. An online chat mode would seem to be a natural delivery system for many kinds of library services to adolescents. Unfortunately, the librarians we studied seem to have grafted inferior versions of the communication styles and protocols of face-to-face reference onto some rather clunky software. It would be interesting to see what would happen if the designers of such online reference services followed the principles of good young adult library practice and involved the teens as active participants in both the planning and the delivery of the services. At the moment, teens are from Neptune, librarians are from Pluto. Better services would result if they could meet somewhere closer together in cyberspace.
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One who is skilled in strategy.
Noun 1. strategist - an expert in strategy (especially in warfare)
market strategist - someone skilled in planning marketing campaigns Publications.
Virginia A. Walter, Professor and Chair, UCLA Department of Information Studies, P.O. Box 951520, Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. , CA 90095-1520, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Cindy Mediavilla, Lecturer, UCLA Department of Information Studies, P.O. Box 951520, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1520, email@example.com. Virginia A. Walter is currently Professor and Chair of the Information Studies Department at UCLA. She earned an M.L.S. degree from the University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university located in Berkeley, California, United States. Commonly referred to as UC Berkeley, Berkeley and Cal , and a Ph.D. in Public Administration from the University of Southern California The U.S. News & World Report ranked USC 27th among all universities in the United States in its 2008 ranking of "America's Best Colleges", also designating it as one of the "most selective universities" for admitting 8,634 of the almost 34,000 who applied for freshman admission . She is a past president of the Association for Library Service to Children The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is a division of the American Library Association. Its members are concerned with the profession of children's Librarianship. and the recipient of the ALSC ALSC Association for Library Service to Children
ALSC Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation
ALSC Afloat Logistics and Sealift Capability
ALSC American Lumber Standards Committee, Inc.
ALSC Advanced Logistics Systems Center (AFMC) 2004 Distinguished Service Award. Her most recent monograph mon·o·graph
A scholarly piece of writing of essay or book length on a specific, often limited subject.
tr.v. mon·o·graphed, mon·o·graph·ing, mon·o·graphs
To write a monograph on. , co-authored with Elaine Meyers, is Teens and Libraries: Getting B Right (ALA Editions, 2003).
Cindy Mediavilla, Ph.D., M.L.S., is a former public librarian who currently works for the UCLA Department of Information Studies, where she teaches part-time and oversees special projects. She is also a renowned expert on the topic of public library homework centers. In 1998 she received the American Library Association's Loleta D. Fyan Award to study after-school homework programs across the country. Her findings were published in 2001 by ALA as a book, Creating the Full-Service Homework Center in Your Library.
Table 1. Types of Questions Asked by Subject Number of Subject of Request Queries Math 40 Social Studies/History/Civics 9 Science 8 English Composition and Grammar 7 French 2 Nondescript Subject 2 Direct Requests for Tutor 46 Note: The total number of queries in the sample is 114. Table 2. Virtual Reference Behaviors Characteristics of Strong Evidence No N/A Virtual Librarians Evidence Evidence Is available quickly 78 36 Gives friendly greeting 92 22 Encourages student to ask question 15 98 1 Repeats question/ paraphrases 6 104 4 Clarifies question Probes for further information 3 33 75 3 Helps interpret question 2 109 3 Verifies mutual understanding 111 3 Finds an answer in source 6 8 100 Uses other sources 1 14 3 96 Communicates clearly 110 1 3 Checks that information is clearly understood 1 20 87 6 Keeps student informed 13 6 95 Offers referral 89 10 15 Encourages student to solve problem 4 3 107 Advises on alternative solutions/methods 2 2 110 Reassures student 3 107 4 Asks if question has been answered 110 4 Asks if student needs more information 10 100 4 Note: Figures indicate number of occurrences each behavior was observed in the study.