November 02, 2012

Reference Questions, Wordled

I am catching up on my blogs and just read Swiss Army Librarian's Sept. 29 post “Cloud of Survey Comments from Library Patrons.” His library did a word cloud based on comments in their recent patron survey, which he shows in his post.

I joked in the comments about doing a Wordle on our recent reference interactions ... and was pleased at how simple it was to set up. I think this will be a good way of showing non-library folks what we do in libraries: help answer questions ... and help folks print. Also, we refer people other places when we can't answer their question or don't have what they need. Note how big the word "chat" is; that's because we code all of our LibraryH3lp / chat reference notes with the word "chat."

Thanks to DeskTracker for the ability to easily download our reference interactions; I simply copied & pasted the comments field into a text file, which I then pasted into Wordle to generate this graphic. The most time-consuming part was standardizing questions and Question to "question" ... and removing the word "patron" since after standardization, it would have been twice the size of the word help!

I was a bit worried that this exercise would violate patron confidentiality, but it doesn't seem to, for two reasons: first, we don't put any personal information in our comments field, and second, because the text of over 600 transactions is in this Wordle, so details like "Times-Picayune" or "HBR Case Studies" doesn't show up.

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