Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I was lucky enough to be able to inteview Mary Ellen who works with a virtual library. She works at Hess, which is an oil company. Her duties include maintaining virtual technical library collection, provide technical reference to geotechnical communt; manage information resource orientations and training for new employees; collaboration with internation team members on research and reference topics and projects; support development of content management and image capture project and maintain vendor relationships.

Mary Ellen has no physical library space beyond a few shelves in her cubicle. There are some books available, but not place to put them for easy access for the researchers. Her job is mostly negotiaion. Negotiation with researchers such as: "Find me anything you can on ..." She finds abstracts and sends them to the researcher, and they contact her back and say yes or no. She also spends time in negotiation with vendors.

Mary Ellen stated that while being in a virtual library is new to her, she enjoys it. She finds that many of the newly highered researchers straight from college are not used to the virtual library. The company is moving into a new building and she is hoping to be able to set up a place where researchers can physically browse the books she does have.

When asked about if she thinks her job will become unnecessary, she replied, "As long as the people who make the money by finding the oil need me, I'll be there." Her number one priority is making sure her value is noticed. She stated, "If I become obselete, it is my fault."

She always makes sure to pass on whatever information she finds along with the phrase, "I didn't find this by Googling!"

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pros and Cons

A virtual or digital library offers users access anywhere there is an internet connection, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This allows users to research and find information when needed to complete a particular task or purpose.

A virtual library also allows different formats of information to be obtained. Users can find print, audio and video information all in one place. This allows users to use the information in a way that best suits their needs. Virtual libraries are more accessible for the disabled. Voice output, closed captioning and large buttons are tools that are easily integrated into a virtual library.

Virtual libraries often contain more up-to-date information. A source of information is more readily available and does not need to ordered, received, processed, and then put on the shelf.

If there is not internet connection, there is no library.

Users still need training and explanations on what databases would best meet there needs.
Sometimes a face-to face refernece interview will give greater userstanding of the users needs.
There is a great need for detailed directions on how to search databases or other online resources that may be new to users. One way this is being addressed is by adding a "Chat" feature to the virtual library. Users also need help evaluating information and resources they find. It is important to teach the value of quailty vs. quantity.

Another con for users is language, especially in the sciences. It is important to aid users in finding information in their native language.


Church, A. (2005). Virtual school libraries--the time is now. MultiMedia & Internet@Schools, 12(2), 8-12. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Iswerarn, A. (2009). Virtual libraries for Biochemistry, Molecular Biophysics and Bioinformatics. Annals of West University of Timisoara, 18(1), 1-6.

King, D.L. (2009). Creating community at the digital branch. Library Techonology Reports, 45(6), 30-33.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

User Centered Service

The topic that I have chosen to work on is "virtual libraries". There are many people (non-librarians) out there who think that the internet, e-books, and Google will put an end to libraries and put librarians out of jobs. I am going to discuss virtual libraries.

A virtual library, also known as a digital library is a library without walls. A virtual libraries goal is that of any other library, to create an environment for gaining information. Access to information is key in a user's experience in any library From a user standpoint a virtul library offers many pros and cons.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

User Spaces

This is where I will complete my work for 5630.