Virtual Reference Best Practices: Tailoring Services to Your Library

Overview

"When it comes to virtual reference, one size doesn't fit all. What works in one library won't necessarily work in another. How do you figure out what to do? Kern, a leading virtual reference expert, outlines the tools and decision-making process that will help you and your library evaluate, tailor, and launch virtual reference services that are a perfect fit for your community and your library." Reference librarians, heads of library services, and managers of virtual reference services will welcome this flexible approach with its wealth of
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Overview

"When it comes to virtual reference, one size doesn't fit all. What works in one library won't necessarily work in another. How do you figure out what to do? Kern, a leading virtual reference expert, outlines the tools and decision-making process that will help you and your library evaluate, tailor, and launch virtual reference services that are a perfect fit for your community and your library." Reference librarians, heads of library services, and managers of virtual reference services will welcome this flexible approach with its wealth of exercises and resources to implement immediately. This book contains everything you need to reach sound and sustainable decisions about virtual reference services.
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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Jamie S. Hansen
Virtual reference (VR), instant messaging (IM), and Voice-over-IP (VoIP) are among the newer ways that libraries seek to serve patrons from off-site locations. Using computers and appropriate software, reference librarians can guide patrons through the often confusing mazes of library databases, call numbers, specialized collections, and location codes. An experienced virtual reference librarian, Kern offers advice and assistance for libraries considering VR. At the outset, she warns readers that being motivated to start this service because of fears of being "left behind" or because it gives the library "something to do" or because "others are doing it," will almost certainly doom the process to failure. Kern stresses that a library system must identify the target audience to be served; get buy-in from board, administration, and staff; assess the costs; select the appropriate type of VR and necessary software; and plan for training and scheduling of staff to achieve success with its service. Kern's guidebook includes useful forms and exercises for every aspect of the VR process from a market assessment of the library's community served to an evaluation of the service. Appendixes provide ALA's Guidelines for Implementing and Maintaining Virtual Reference Services, a sample market assessment, and an invaluable checklist to follow in preparing for VR service. Refreshingly free from theory and jargon, this manual belongs in every public or academic library. Even those which already offer virtual reference will find assistance and suggestions to improve their services. Reviewer: Jamie S. Hansen
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780838909751
  • Publisher: ALA Editions
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,356,639
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction

1 Defining Virtual Reference 1

2 Implementing Virtual Reference: Is It the Right Thing, Right Now? 5

3 Who Are We Doing This For? 15

4 Buy-in: Gaining Commitment and Support 22

5 Policies: Setting Expectations of Who, When, and What 32

6 Selecting Software 46

7 Communication: Do I Have to Learn a New Language? 61

8 Determining a Staffing Model 72

9 Assessing the Costs: Budgeting for Virtual Reference 83

10 Collaborative Virtual Reference 88

11 Aspects of Training 97

12 Marketing Your Virtual Reference Service 104

13 Assessment and Evaluation: How Are We Doing? 109

14 The Road Ahead: Next Steps and Emerging Technologies 120

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