LibQUAL survey conducted in the year 2007 showed University Libraries students prefer face-to-face interactions with the library staff, and the students would opt for a video chat on information references to instant messaging (IM). Popularity of a media to be used for referencing is used as a character to identify main platforms of obtaining information from the libraries. E-mails, video communication, and a few webcams are also preferably used by the University students for their referencing (Cohen, L.B., pg. 13). User surveys online, and paper- based are used in the survey.
This survey also used case studies, meta- analysis, e-mail, transcript analysis, focus group interviews, participant observers and chat are utilized in the interview.
Impact on academic libraries
Different colleges have been forced to provide a wide range of information, because they provide a foundation for the students' career and readiness. The libraries hence, provide a broad range of high-quality, informational texts which are increasingly challenging. Reading widely assumes a large collection of resources in every format, ranging from digital and print devices which should be available at the students elbow. Through extensive reading, students acquire habits of independent reading hence less librarian services are required. Librarians use their skills and act as brokers to provide learners with the information they need. In her book, Robin Kinder describe libraries as small companies that allows for access of fast collection of documents that are required by learners. Researches, investigative, and descriptive research are done online, with the aid of reference librarians. For such services to be provided, Kinder states that it is offered to anyone who is willing to pay. Reference librarians act as library brokers (Kinder, R., 1988, pg. 81).
The raising demands of a learner's educational libraries are forced to cope with the upcoming learning modes like distant learning. Libraries offer special services like the virtual reference services, and real chat services to ensure distance learning is easier. Libraries are also forced to follow policies put in place to ensure that specific needs of the distant learner are adequately provided. The libraries are forced to adjust in different areas ranging from; number of interactive tutorials provided distantly learners, role libraries play in distant learning orientation, policies online item in the library budget for distant learning or blog pages that libraries provide to the distant learners, level of access to library database provided to distance learners, state of relations between distant learning instructors and librarians, distance learner attitudes on the library, percentage of libraries that agree with other colleges to provide services to their students, library staff responsible for distance learning, staff size for distant learning staff, percentage of libraries with full time devotion for distance learning and percentage of libraries with liaison to distance learning programs (primary research group pg. 124).
The rising number of distance learning students, and free web -based resources has led to development of virtual learning services (digital reference services). Academic libraries are pioneers in adoption and development of the virtual references services. They have developed different learning methods in response to the user's preference, thus advancing technologically. They launched the e-mails in the 1980's, then the instant messaging and live chat in the mid- 1990's.In early 2000 they launched short messaging or instant messaging in response to the user preference.
Other factors which libraries are forced to put into consideration due to the learner's demands include; how to use courseware management system and electronic reserve policies for distance learners. The learners also need adequate information in order to access the library services without strain, hence this encourages cataloging productivity. Therefore, cataloguing is critical for the student because they get information on reference materials they require. Many libraries therefore, provide catalogue services to ensure that the learner can access services without involving the librarian. This has also ensured enhancement of online cataloguing, through cataloguing of data and other special collections. This has also led to transition to metadata standards and metadata training to keep up with the fluctuating demands by students and librarians.
Emerging trends and format of the referencing and information commons emerge with time to suit the needs of the people. Budget concern and the need to minimize cost on the services offered is a trend adopted from early 1990's. Information collected by librarians is issued to a customer at a willing cost, and has been lowered from time to time. Casserly's collection development chapter shows enormous impact on libraries, and focuses mainly on the collections, and how the libraries operate under tight budgets. Casserly outlines methodology and scope used by librarians in disseminating quality information, at loosened budgets. Proper attention and accountability is also emphasized on Casserly's development chapter, with an aim of improving services at affordable prices. Budget set by such librarians aims at providing equal service to all, and at the same time make profits.
Partnership and collaboration with different parties is an upcoming issue to the success of reference services at the exposure of learners. Researchers, practitioners, librarians, and academic faculties collaborate around various institutions. Collaborations aim at cutting down the input among the staff, and increase the purchasing power. More partnership implies reduced budget and demands among the staff, as put by Casserly's collection development chapter. Standardization of electronic services is also leading role in such partnerships (Elmborg, J.K. And Hook, S., 2005).
Individual chat and instant messaging has decline due to modern ways of enabling referencing via short message service (SMS) or text messaging among students. Distant education is offered by various universities, and the librarians of such universities are in a better position to pursue new avenues to extend and instruct referential services to remote patrons. These services are aimed to suit student who are not able to meet the University, and the librarians use Webinar or Web conferencing software. E-commerce is facilitated by the librarians in order to encourage guests to chat with the library staff without logging via IM. E-commerce encourages special collections reproduction to increase staffing and high volume of referencing materials required (Cohen, L.B., pg. 13).
Extension of library service points is an emerging trend in the academic referencing sector. Student recreation center and student unions are examples of extended library facilities, which offer peer-to-peer facilities and research through mobile library cart. Such programs are initiated to benefit university students, especially undergraduates, and student leaders are appointed to frontline the researches in the University. It encourages library interaction via student peer leaders. University librarians encourage laptop computers to campus events and mobile research help service facilities, to enhance researches that are conducted in the Universities. LibX toolbar is used by library patrons to encourage direct library catalog from the browser. LibX toolbar eases any research done by a learner, and enables easy referencing whenever the learner is in need of citations from the library (Cohen, L.B., pg. 14).
The impact of information commons to the academic libraries is very pervasive due to rapid change. In the information services, there has been an unpredictable proliferation of information and technology and also in the design of services. These new technologies have reshaped and stretched the classification of information. Therefore, these changes have influenced the pervasiveness of academic libraries.
Users of the libraries have shifted from baby boomers generation, to generation Y, the generation that is media-immersed. This information-seeking behavior is growing importance among the librarians. This has also led to a crisis between those offering library services and the Y generation. This is caused by lack of sufficient means to address the demands of the upcoming generation leading to a crisis. The crisis can only be addressed through emphasis on leadership education on the part of librarian leaders.
Information commons has also led to thorough assessment in the academic libraries, so as to put in place effective strategies. The strategic and planning activities in the academic libraries are meant to justify their spending and, to connect their missions directly to the students. Some methods use to determine whether their missions are directly connected to the students, is by performing the usability test to see if their services are used by the students. This test is useful in web-based environments, because increased virtual presence shows increase use of students (Elmborg, J.K. And Hook, S., 2005).
Information technology has continued to evolve, hence, systems have become more complex and changes too. The academic libraries have undergone swift, perverse, revolutionary changes which are unpredictable. Printed reference sources have also swiftly disappeared, although they have not totally disappeared. Research statistics show that the print collections have considerably shrunk. The change or shift is due to the demand of electronic reference services. There is an increase of reference service points due to a reference renaissance period, where there is a rising demand of service excellence. Implementation of information of commons may not be ideal for every institution. This is because different factors have to be considered, like financial, political and other factors.