Benefits of virtual reference

  • What unmet need would this service fill for your users?  Are your users asking for this service?
  • You may want to consider doing some local research (a pre-assessment) that would evaluate your users’ readiness for the service and how much they would use it, and/or your library’s readiness to offer the service.
  • You may want to talk with librarians at other libraries, similar to yours, about their experiences of offering virtual reference for their users.  Here are some published articles about libraries that established virtual reference services, to get you started:
    • Breitbach, William, Matthew Mallard, and Robert Sage. “Using Meebo's Embedded IM for Academic Reference Services: A Case Study.” Reference Services Review 37, no. 1 (2009): 83-98. doi:10.1108/00907320910935011.
    • Kipnis, Daniel. G., and Gary E. Kaplan. “Analysis and Lessons Learned Instituting an Instant Messaging Reference Service at an Academic Health Sciences Library: The First Year.”  Medical Reference Services Quarterly 27, no. 1 (2008): 33-51. doi:10.1080/02763860802080119.
    • McCulley, Lucretia, and Olivia Reinauer. “Connecting with AIM: The Search for a Virtual Reference Niche.” College & Undergraduate Libraries 13, no. 4 (2006): 43-54. doi:10.1300/il 06v I 3n04̱04.