BY HENRIETTA THORNTON-VERMA:
'Library Journal "Beating Siri at Her Own Game: What's Next for Virtual Reference"
The librarians who attended Saturday's “What's Next for Virtual Reference” discussion group at ALA left with a lot to ponder."
Courtney Young's, a 2011 Library Journal Mover and Shaker [...],
first prediction: Cloud computing will become more ubiquitous in virtual reference. Using the cloud, she explained, means taking advantage of storage and other functions that are offered by Internet companies instead of being limited to the functions that are available on your own computer. Young used a show of hands to demonstrate that while many librarians are using services such as DropBox to store their work or personal documents, they aren’t using them with patrons, a change she urged the librarians in the room to make. They could, she suggested, create a “My Library Cloud” area into which materials could be deposited for patron use. Young recognized that the exact mechanisms of how this should work aren’t certain, acknowledging, for example that “ebooks are still shaking out,” but maintained that patrons “are used to using these services personally, and why wouldn’t they use them at the library?”
Next was a call to arms: “Siri is what we do,” she said, noting that what Apple calls iPhone’s “intelligent personal assistant” is “virtual reference embedded into a device that people are very attached to.” While it isn’t very effective right now, Young asserted, it can only improve, and librarians need to position themselves as the alternatives to the service before they find themselves replaced."