Monday, February 5, 2007

The Conception of Virtual Reference Service in the University Library

Coming back from the seminar "Creation and developing virtual reference services in a modern library" held in Moscow, I suggested an idea of creating such service at our library. The one thing to do was to carry out a survey of our users, the preliminary results of which are presented in my previous post.
The next thing - was to bring together everything I've read and learnt from the experience of other libraries and present board of directors the conception of VRS with reference to our library.
To do that I (and any library, that decided to provide such service) was to answer some questions.
1. What type of VR to choose?
  • e-mail
  • web-forms
  • IM
  • e-conference
  • or something else?
2. What will be the working hours?
  • 24/7
  • during the working hours of the library (or the Reference department)
  • during particular hours or days
3. Who will answer the patrons' questions?
  • several reference librarians
  • the whole Reference Department
  • the staff of the other library departments
  • the staff and the faculty of the University
  • all above mentioned
4. What resources to use?
  • Internet resources only
  • only the Library collections (print and digital)
  • the collections of the other city libraries
  • available resources of the libraries in other cities and countries
  • all the possible variations
5. To whom provide the service?
  • the patrons of the Library only
  • only the University students, faculty and staff
  • only the citizens of our city and region
  • for all comers
6. Will the service be free of charge and if not, how to get the payment?
7. Shall we register our users and what information do we need for registration?
8. Do we need an archive of the reference made, will it be available to our patrons or only for the staff?
9. What will be the deadline for providing the answer?
10. Shall we answer questions in other languages?
11. Shall we limit the subject of the questions?
And many other important things that must be considered, if we want to make this service helpful for our patrons.

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