Information Services Steering Group
Meeting Minutes
April 11, 2002

Present: Myoung Chung Wilson (chair), Ron Jantz, Marty Kesselman, Leslie Murtha (recorder), Pat Piermatti, Stephanie Tama-Bartels.

Meeting opened at 9:30 A.M.

Minutes approved.

Old Business

Librarians Without Borders

• Stephanie Tama-Bartels reported on the pilot project "Librarians Without Borders." This project is an experiment to take reference services outside the library to places where potential patrons congregate.

• The "Librarians without Borders" team consists of Triveni Kuchi, Laura Mullins, and Stephanie Tama-Bartels; some other librarians have volunteered to participate as well. An outpost was established at the Busch Campus Center adjacent to the Information Kiosk. The outpost is scheduled to be open for 4 weeks; from April 8 through May 8, Monday through Thursday from 11 A.M. - 2 P.M. and 7 P.M.- 9 P.M. Hours were chosen on the basis of traffic patterns in the Campus Center. Statistics are being collected, and patrons are being surveyed for their reactions. If the project is to be continued, timing will be an important consideration, both in terms of hours of service and in terms of the times of year when the service is available. To increase the visibility of the service, it was suggested that a sign be placed on the LSM Reference Desk at closing time to direct patrons to Busch Campus Center for the duration of the project.

• It was suggested that the statistics should include a category for Access Services questions, so that it would be possible to evaluate the importance of adding an Access Services component to the service, should the pilot be developed further. There was also a suggestion that there might be the potential to merge this service with the Real-Time Reference project by providing library kiosks in various buildings to connected to the real-time service.

• The project has already generated favorable public relations; the service point was visited by some members of the Board of Governors after their last meeting. Enthusiasm was expressed. The enthusiastic support of the administrations of the Busch Campus Center and Rutgers College is also appreciatively noted.

• The LWB team will issue a report following the close of the pilot project. An accountability report will also be required in conjunction with the ACIC grant.


• Various aspects of the Ask-a-Librarian service were discussed. Concerns were raised concerning division of labor. ISSG would like to remind everyone on the Ask-a-Librarian team, and all future participant, that it is important that Reference Librarians allow Access Services team members to answer all questions relating to their bailiwick, just as Access Services staff must leave reference questions to the Reference Team. Anything else impairs the quality of the service.

• Ron Jantz suggested that the SCC might be able to give assistance in the development of automated features to help streamline the Ask-a-Librarian service. This project was originally developed as a PROP proposal. Myoung will draft a proposal for consideration by the interested parties.

Real-Time Reference

• Marty Kesselman reported on the pilot project to provide online reference services in a chat environment. The project is scheduled to be available Monday - Friday, 1 P.M. - 4 P.M., from April 8 to May 18. The project is using a product called Live Assistance, which allows librarians to chat with patrons, send them pre-formatted responses to common questions, push Web pages, and conduct an exit interview. The system also generates transcripts of the interaction, which can be sent to the patron for future reference, and can be used to generate reports about the service.

• Some of the issues that have arisen so far are:

• Network traffic can impede the usability of the service.
• Although it is possible to send a patron the URL for a restricted-access resource, only patrons who are recognized by the vendors of those resources as members of the RU community will actually be able to make use of the information.

• It was suggested that signs be placed in all the computer labs to publicize the service.

• A decision was made to consider providing reference service at Douglass Library this summer using this model. A terminal would be made available at the Reference Desk, and the service would be staffed at designated times. Marty will draft a proposal.

• ISSG would like to go on record as supporting the idea that this service, if established as an ongoing commitment, should be restricted to the Rutgers community.
New Business


• Myoung Chung Wilson led a discussion of issues concerning the training of our student work force. There is a need for consistency of training for reference and information assistants across NB. This can best be accomplished through a combination of written material and group/individual instruction. It would be best if the student work force could be given a common orientation before the beginning of the semester; however, this is not feasible, since student workers join the staff over the course of the semester, rather than all coming at the beginning.

• All reference coordinators are asked to review the NBL training manual and their individual unit manuals, so that an attempt can be made to merge them into a single document.

• There was discussion of the commonalities and differences in the training of students for different public services duties, and a recommendation to investigate common needs with Access Services. It was suggested that some training could be accomplished by developing online modules.

• Discussion was tabled until the next meeting, when we will address issues of for whom training needs to be developed, how ISSG should be involved, and how we can cooperate with other functional teams for greater efficiency in this area.


• Myoung distributed blank calendar templates for collecting information about recurring events in the academic year. Everyone is asked to contribute information about their library units and campuses. Examples of appropriate information to include would be cyclical grants, conferences, periodic reports, personnel cycles (e.g. PFP, FASIP), new student orientation, instruction cycles, among other things. The purpose of developing this calendar is to enable us to be better prepared to make decisions and seize opportunities.

• Everyone is reminded that requests for voucher funds for the coming academic year must be submitted before July 1.

Future Meetings

• Items recommended for future agendas include a discussion of how the libraries can best support the use of bibliographic software, and a continued discussion of training issues.

• The next meeting will be Thursday, May 16, at Kilmer Library.

Meeting was adjourned at 11:30 A.M.

Respectfully submitted by Leslie Murtha, 4/29/02