The Free Reference Service
A soft launch has been performed of an idea that I’ve been cultivating for several months now: to provide free reference service via Facebook. If people use this service, I would hope to collaborate with other information professionals to create an application which serves the same purpose. My second motivation was to gain experience giving reference since it’s a part of what I want to do.
How to Use it
Users can post questions on Nuna Nishi’s wall or message her if they wish to remain anonymous and the interaction can be confidential. To view questions and answers, users can view the “wall-to-wall” on Nuna Nishi’s profile. A weekly recap of reference questions will also be posted on Nuna Nishi’s blog and this will be imported via the Notes application.
Facebook doesn’t allow new profiles with the word librarian in the name. I was only interested in applying my idea to profiles since I could see the effectiveness of using the wall to wall and message features as the platform. It seemed logical to have Nuna perform the service since she is in fact a virtual reference librarian in Second Life on Info Island International.
The First Week
The first week was a success. Visit Nuna’s reference log for details. Four questions in four days. Of course the first question was provoked to test the experiment. The next three questions came within the next two days with Nuna only having a total of about eight friends. There are still a few kinks related to the new facebook interface. For example, the new wall won’t allow a shared link with the posted answer. For now, I’ve remedied this by reverting to the old interface when I answer a question and it works great.
Is there a market for this? I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.