Virtual Reference Services: Issues and Trends

1st Edition

Stacey Kimmel, Jennifer Heise

CRC Press
Published September 10, 2003
Textbook - 212 Pages
ISBN 9780789020451 - CAT# HW13748

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A state-of-the-art guide to virtual reference services!

This essential book provides a snapshot of virtual reference (VR) services in all kinds of library settings and discusses the issues, trends, and practices involved in offering this kind of service. The chapters go beyond descriptions of services to offer practical advice and suggestions for product selection, policy setting, technical support, collaborative efforts, staffing, training, marketing, budgeting, evaluation, and administration. Case studies, relevant Web sites, and vendor information are included. An ample selection of tables, figures, and illustrations makes important information easy to access and understand.

From the editors: “The purpose of this book is to describe the state of the art in virtual reference services, by which we mean real-time, interactive reference service with a librarian, offered online via chat or videoconferencing. Significant players in virtual reference services have prepared chapters for this book. Some of these address virtual reference as a service trend. Others describe services in a variety of settings, including public, academic, and special libraries. Some focus on one aspect of virtual reference, such as statistics/evaluation, policy setting, or the reference interaction. Our intent is to provide an opportunity for reflection on the impact of virtual reference services on librarians, clients, and libraries, as well as to offer a glimpse of the future.”

Virtual Reference Services: Issues and Trends addresses topics that will help institutions and VR professionals provide more effective services. Chapters focus on:
  • the principles and concepts of continuous quality improvement (CQI) for virtual reference, such as the Kano Model of user satisfaction—and how it can help libraries improve their VR services
  • a case study of the adoption of VR service at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System in New York, with emphasis on the benefits of maintaining a user-centered perspective to help inform decisions about procedures and services
  • staff selection, structuring the work environment, scheduling, and other VR issues at a large university library
  • collaborative VR services in the state of New Jersey and the development of the “Q and A NJ” initiative and the experiences of two participating public libraries
  • the development and testing of innnovative software developed through a partnership with a high tech company
  • statewide and regional VR collaboration in Florida, with a comprehensive and detailed overview of that state's VR initiatives
  • post-implementation issues such as high call volume, difficult users, training and quality assessment, and service improvement
  • a report from a medical/dental library participating in a multitype library collaborative VR service—with insights on budgeting, training, administration/coordination, morale, marketing, user reaction, and how a health sciences library contributes to (and benefits from) this kind of initiative
  • VR services at The Boeing Corporation
  • a model and framework for collecting and making use of statistical data in a VR service, with AskERIC's implementation as an example
  • the nature of the user-librarian VR interaction, with an insightful analysis of chat transcripts from Carnegie Mellon University
  • how users interact with various services offered on library Web pages, with an illuminating comparison of the use of the library Web site search tool at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale vs. the use of the VR service available on that site


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