Virtual Reference Best Practices: Tailoring Services to Your Library

Virtual Reference Best Practices: Tailoring Services to Your Library

by M. Kathleen Kern
     
 

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? The recently published Virtual Reference Service Guidelines from the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), which is reproduced in appendix A, provides the starting point. Kern, a leading virtual

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? The recently published Virtual Reference Service Guidelines from the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), which is reproduced in appendix A, provides the starting point. Kern, a leading virtual reference expert, outlines the tools and decision-making processes 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. Moving from general guidelines to making concrete decisions about integrating virtual with traditional reference, Virtual Reference Success Provides a handy checklist of issues to consider Suggests plans for sustainability of services Offers activities and discussion points that support decision making Shares proven sample policies and materials currently in use Summarizes practical one-page "Research You Can Use" Outlines the pros and cons of collaborating in a consortium 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. Here's everything you need to reach sound and sustainable decisions about virtual reference services.

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780838909751
Publisher:
ALA Editions
Publication date:
09/01/2008
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
8.25(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.34(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >