Radref meeting/dinner @ ALA Seattle: Updated minutes

Hi all, below are the updated "minutes" such as they are. I think there are a few items for discussion. I'll post on the list as well.


Radical Reference meeting
Pan African Market, Seattle
Present: I'm terrible with names, but there were at least 15 people there, some already volunteers and some interested (shout-out to you Simmons folks!) I remember Shinjoung, Lia, Jonathan, James, Dena, Kelsey, Alanna, Lana, Heather, Geralyn, Katie, Char, Emily, Janelle

Others please email me so I can add your name to the list. and again, my apologies for NOT writing names down!

Note-taking: Shinjoung and James

Note: these are NOT minutes but simply our own recollection of what happened! If others would like to send me their notes/comments, I'll incorporate and put up a final document on the radref site (as soon as file uploads are fixed ;-) )

Since we had so many at one table, we decided to break up into 3 smaller groups and talk about the question and answer system and the broader issue of energizing people to make radref a mroe viable org.

**James' memory is based on the discussion he had in our small group and then also with another group when he moved over to introduce himself and hear what they were talking about.**

It was decided that lightning bug was a barrier for many people. This was due to some of the bugs (i.e., someone claimed and answered a question and it would still show up as unanswered or escalate to the group because the original answerer's responsibility had "expired.") and also due to the fact that the site and LB were not integrated so people would answer and then have to move the Q&A over to the site. We talked a little about the metafilter model and thought that would be interesting to try. But everyone agreed that the simple method of sending to the list and someone responding with an "I got it" worked best. It was good because a) everyone saw the question b) everyone saw that someone had responsibility for the question c) everyone could still work on a question and send ideas/sourcecs/Web sites to the original answerer. There was concern for this method about workload of the question moderators (those charged with forwarding the question to the group and creating the question on the Website), but overall this method all agreed worked well.

Kelsey mentioned that it was nice in the past to have the running list of "answered" and "unanswered" questions on the right hand side of the page. Because of lightningbug, it seems like there are no longer any unanswered questions showing up on the radref front page.

Additionally, it would be nice to have some sort of feedback system or virtual way to close the reference interview and make sure the patron's needs were met. Several talked about answering questions in the past and then never hearing anything ever again from the patron, which feels unresolved.

We also talked about the larger issue of getting/keeping volunteers energized over the long haul. It was agreed that radref was VERY successful during the runup to and during the RNC. Everyone agreed that this was due to volunteers being engaged, having a focus or deadline and having set projects or items to work on and/or a schedule of when they had agreed to help (street ref and home support). It was agreed that we need to get back to that model, perhaps set a calendar of events for the year around which the group could organize and focus. One event suggested was the coming US Social Forum in Atlanta, June 27 - July 1, 2007 [http://www.ussf2007.org/]. We need to get moving on this since June will be coming quickly! It was also mentioned that those who have been with radref since the beginning need to email the list more regularly with information for new volunteers about how and why radref started...

In the 2nd group that James talked with, there was also concern for privacy of questioners in the Q&A process -- especially for those questions that might be of a sensitive nature or be submitted by some known person. There was no solution proffered, but one idea was discussed:

Moderator could forward the question without names and ask the volunteer responsible for the answer to send it to the moderator instead of directly to the questioner (deemed too much work for moderators and impossible to do reference interviews or followups). This is definitely an issue that will need more discussion!

Respectfully submitted,

James Jacobs & Shinjoung Yeo