Skill 6. Ability to create and apply reference transaction policies
Skill 6. Ability to create and apply reference transaction policies in an online environment.
The virtual world not a replica of the physical world so while the basics of reference service policies will translate easily to your virtual reference service, there will also be some differences. Some special points of consideration in this competency area are below.
Knowing the mission, values and expectations of your virtual reference service will make the creation of policies and procedures easier. It is critical to implement and then evaluate policies and procedures, especially in harmony with your institutions policies and current laws, if applicable.
Most important aspect of this skill may be adhering to institution’s confidentiality/privacy policies, and being able to communicate privacy guidelines to patrons.
With the trend to provide most library resources in a digital format, the tendency will be to share or deliver licensed content with virtual reference patrons. This skill area will reflect an understanding of document delivery polices, as well as copyright policies. Ability to communicate these policies in a clear manner are key.
While brick-and-mortar libraries are typically available to broad populations and clientele, many virtual reference services are scoped to specifically suit the needs of the local or targeted audience (sometimes throttled by authentication steps). This skill area includes a complete understanding of who is served by your library’s service, how to refer unaffiliated patrons to other services, and how to handle questions outside the scope of your service. It may be important to understand virtual reference service policies of collaborating institutions, especially for referral purposes.
Just like any physical space where customer service happens, rude or inappropriate patrons will interact with library staff. This skill area should include a firm understanding of your library’s policy and procedures for working through rude, harassing, or inappropriate online behavior, including the knowledge of how to decline assistance to service abusers.
Some useful resources for this skill area are:
Chat Reference Staff Web Page (Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University)