Virtual Reference Services

Richard James richardjam at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 31 08:36:17 EST 2014

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?
OCLC's Questionpoint, by way of the Ask-Here-PA statewide reference collaborative. QP access is provided via plug-ins in libguides, EBSCO databases, and by links and forms on the library website. Because we provide a few hours of statewide coverage, there's no cost to us other than a small amount to support a configuration that allows us to only monitor our own student queue.

Is your service asynchronous (delayed response) or synchronous (chat)? 

How do you monitor answer quality?
As the administrator I review transcripts frequently and follow up on quality issues. Usually these are occasions where responding librarians from outside our institution have not paid sufficient attention to our specific library services.

How do you schedule staff time on the virtual reference service?
The reference librarian 'on duty' at the desk monitors the service, and all professional staff are assigned coverage hours outside of this to satisfy our participation requirement for the statewide service. 

How many staff do you have answering questions?
5, although 24/7 coverage is available through QuestionPoint.


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