Proactive reference

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about something I’m calling “proactive reference.” The way I’m thinking about it, proactive reference is the monitoring of the real-time web (Twitter, Friendfeed, Seesmic, etc) by librarians who answer questions relating to their area or specialty, whether subject or geographically based. Public librarians who answer questions by searching for mentions of their city, county, or library, and Academic libraries who monitor for mentions of their university are two examples, but are many more possibilities.

I’m doing a bit of it now, just to see how effective it is at marketing the library’s services and such. Is anyone else out there actively monitoring these communication channels right now? My instinct is that this is going to be a HUGE market in a very short time, and that libraries should dive in fast and get used to it.

3 thoughts on “Proactive reference

  1. i agree completely about the future market for this!

    we monitor twitter for any mention of our uni/library and proactively try to answer queries – even if it’s just “man i wish i knew what time this library closed”.

  2. We do the same thing in Skokie, with a variety of Twitter searches and Google Alerts for various terms specific to the area. It’s funny how quickly people acclimate to it – 6 months ago, I’d get responses like “woah, my library is following me on Twitter. That’s weird.” Now, people don’t seem to bat an eye. Not that they’re aren’t pleased or grateful to receive service, but it’s now one of the ways people expect to get use out of Twitter.

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