Virtual Reference Services

Teresa Doherty mtdohert at VCU.EDU
Thu Jan 30 16:25:05 EST 2014

Answers below (in blue on my end, but YMMV :o)

On Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 3:58 PM, Lindsey Bray (LIB)
<lbray at>wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> We're looking at overhauling how we organize our virtual reference
> service. Currently, we use LibAnswers and have a small team of librarians
> answering the questions. If you currently use a virtual reference service,
> could you answer the following questions?
> What service do you use and why?
We use LibraryH3lp as our platform for chat and text reference services at
Virginia Commonwealth University. This was chosen by the team drafted to
look at options (I wasn't on that team, but could probably get some info
from them...)

> Is your service asynchronous (delayed response) or synchronous (chat)?
We staff chat and text during many day/evening hours, and then switch to
text only for our overnight and early morning hours.

> How do you monitor answer quality?
That's a question we've been thinking more and more about recently. We do
not have a staffer assigned to regularly reviewing the transcriptions, but
we do feel a need in order to maintain quality.

> How do you schedule staff time on the virtual reference service?
During the day, librarians are scheduled to cover chat and text, and
paraprofessionals in our Information Services department (which provides
circulation as well as research assistance) handle evenings, overnights and

> How many staff do you have answering questions?
There are 14 librarians and 11 paraprofessionals who provide this service.
We staff chat and/or text during all building open hours; we are a 24x5
library, so that's a lot of hours.

> Thanks!
> Lindsey
>  Lindsey Bray  |  Digital Services Specialist
> W. Dale Clark
> *Main Library *215 S. 15th St.  |  Omaha, NE 68102
> lbray at  |  402.444.4843
> Follow OPL on Twitter <!/OmahaLibrary> & Facebook<>
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> 2014-01-30

M. Teresa Doherty
Head, Information Services
VCU Libraries  804 828-8658


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