Tuesday, March 4, 2008

L-Net and Meebo

Every week I answer questions on L-net at the Oregon State University Library for two hours. L-net is an online, chat reference service provided by Oregon librarians. I answer questions both for both academic and K-12 students so I usually get a nice variety of questions. Today I answered questions about medieval clothing, who were the major actors in Shakespeare's time, how hot air balloons work, how the Swiss and U.S. Constitutions are the same and different, and when the Vietnam Paris Peace talks were held.

I've been told that many of the academic librarians don't particularly like doing L-net but I do as I not only learn about many new things I'd never thought of before, I'm also learning how to conduct good, quick reference interviews. I think part of why they don't like it is because some of the younger students are sometimes rude. My method of dealing with this is to ask them to please be polite and then just continue on and answer their questions. I've found I'm often successful that way and we are able to complete our sessions.

The questions, too, aren't usually as difficult as the ones university students ask using Meebo on the library's webpage. I usually do the Meebo when I'm working a shift at the general reference desk. I enjoy those as well, and as I don't have the luxury of backup librarians on Meebo as I do on L-net, I have found myself juggling three or four complex questions at a time and that is certainly challenging!

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