Operation Nuna Nishi: Free Reference Service via Facebook

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.

Setting up

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.


4 thoughts on “Operation Nuna Nishi: Free Reference Service via Facebook

  1. Hi Jan

    Catching up on my reading after my holidays, this intrigues me.

    Are you eventually going to run a comparison with Second Life reference questions and services like Yahoo Answers?

    Hope all continuing well with you.


  2. jandawson says:

    Thanks, Anne! Yes, I would like to run comparisons, etc. So far all activity has been on Facebook and not at my reference shift in SL. Nuna’s Facebook profile lists her reference shift hours so I was wondering if anyone wanted to see her in SL but people seem quite comfortable asking questions on her wall. There have also been a few anonymous questions (and even anonymous help with an answer!) via Facebook message. I’m about to blog an update about the first three weeks. It’s been really interesting!

  3. Danielle says:

    Hey Jan,

    Looks like I will need to check out the reference service on Facebook–I wonder if there is a techie out there who could build an app to help with a reference service? This is definitely very interesting territory and excellent fodder for a research paper. In the future, would you consider developing an area of specialty? Or stay a versatile info-hunter? Nice to see you here on WordPress and I hope you are well 🙂

    take care,


  4. IgnatiusNootan says:

    Foozball? Foozball is for the debbil!
    Sorry, just a quote from one of my favorite movies, Waterboy. Anyways I took your advice from 2nd Life today and signed up on Twitter. And then I stalked you down!
    But seriously it was nice to “meet” you on 2nd Life today. Ignatius Nootan

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