Staff who provide virtual reference services need to know everything your in-person reference staff know as well as special skills related to communicating online. Therefore, for the sake of training staff, it is useful to divide training into two parts: core reference training and virtual reference training.
Core Reference Training. This includes knowledge of information sources, information needs of your patron population, search strategies, citation tools and formats, access methods and policies, referral policies and mechnaisms, as well as local services and facilities. This aspect of training is beyond the scope of this tutorial. Fortunately, a number of books, articles, and websites discuss the topic in detail. We recommend the following:
- Bopp, R.E, & Smith, L.C. (Eds.). (2011). Reference and information services: An introduction (4th ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Virtual Reference Training. This includes knowledge of how to communicate effectively in online environments, how to operate virtual reference software, and how to apply policies and evaluation procedures to online transactions. In this tutorial, we have chosen to divide this content into six sections, each focusing on a particular set of skills. You can go through those sections in any order. In addition, we provide lists of virtual reference training sites, virtual reference training activities, and recommended readings pertaining to virtual reference training:
Skill 3. Ability to assist online users in applying critical thinking skills in locating, using, and evaluating information.
List of Training Sites
List of Activities
List of Recommended Readings