fixing virtual reference

If you follow virtual reference blogs or sit on any library info-related listservs, you may have encountered discussion on the article entitled “Let’s Fix Virtual Reference” By Eric Zino in Library Journal. Here is a summary of Zino’s key points:

*Zino frequents virtual reference services of all sorts and relays that he often doesn’t get a reference interview.

*He refers to an experience where a librarian sent him to several different web sites which did not fulfill his information need and suggested that this librarian was merely “acting like a computer”. This “Google-like matching” is easily performed by the visitor and they’ve come to VR for something more.

*Quality of sources is another issue. Zino relays experiences of receiving sources solely from the open internet instead of library materials which the visitor has access to or a combination of both.

*Zino observes that some librarians are “acting more eager than these customers to end the transaction”. He would like to see a stronger focus on customer service since the “experience of the end user is going to be our best marketing device at the end of the day”.

*Lastly, Zino stresses that not enough VR providers have actually tried VR services.

    Related articles:

    1. “Quality Tip: To Google or not to Google? Try going directly to an official source” from QuestionPoint’s blog

    2. “Is the virtual reference interview dead?” on page 13 of inCite Volume 29, Issue 12, December 2008

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    2 thoughts on “fixing virtual reference

    1. Wow, I’m surprised at Eric Zino’s experiences. I’ve done VR in a couple different work places now and the training always made sure to cover the points Zino mentions and they are actually used (reference interview, time with patron, reliable sources).
      I wonder if there is a difference in the importance placed on those activities based on type of workplace or even staff buy-in?

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