Secret Patron Exercise
This exercise involves logging in as a patron with a real reference question to one (or more) of the other service providers around the country. (See list below.) It would be most helpful if you choose a somewhat complex question that will require a reference interview.
What might you learn from doing this? First, and probably most importantly, you'll get to see what our patrons see, in terms of how the software acts and feels. You'll also get a chance to experience how other librarians use the software and interact with patrons doing virtual reference. Do they do a reference interview, ask clarifying questions, stay engaged with the patron, etc.?
You may have misgivings that you're trying to "trick"the librarian who takes your question by not disclosing that you're also a virtual reference librarian. Try to see this as a learning experience, not one in which you'll be grading the librarian on the other end on her expertise. This exercise is meant to sharpen your skills, not be a criticism of her skills.
Please select one of the services below and give this a try. It should generate a lot of discussion and insights into your own reference skills.
Some of the services require a zip code or email address to log in and you can use the zip codes provided or any other ones that work.
Seattle Public Library
Florida’s Ask a Librarian
Use zip code: 32801 (Orlando), 32301 (Tallahassee)
Use zip code: 44114 (Cleveland)