Do You Want to Chat? Reevaluating Organization of Virtual Reference Service at an Academic Library

Maryvon Côté, Svetlana Kochkina, Tara Mawhinney


Since their inception, virtual reference services have evolved considerably and are now a significant component of library services in many types of library environments. The current paper reports on a study undertaken at a research-intensive academic library that analyzed and evaluated a decade-old virtual reference service. The main goal of the study was to obtain a broad and comprehensive picture of the current service, grounded in the actual day-to-day provision, usage, and organization of the service. The group of librarians involved in the study developed a feasible, efficient, and adaptable methodology for assessing and evaluating a virtual reference service. The developed methodology that combines qualitative and quantitative methods can be used and applied for a similar evaluation of the service in any type of library environment.

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