Virtual Reference Service in United States School of Law Libraries: Its Challenges and the Way Forward — Olugbenga Ademodi
The purpose of this paper is to examine what is meant by virtual reference, how effective it is, in what situations it is used, what software is used, what costs are involved, how it is applicable in United States law school libraries and a host of other issues which will include but not be limited to challenges of this service and the way forward.
The author made use of literature such as books and articles. Questionnaires were sent to reference departments of some law school libraries to extract practical information concerning this service in their departments. The questions asked include the reason for the adoption of this service, when the service is used, what patrons use the service, and what they think the challenges ahead are.
What is Virtual Reference?
According to the American Library Association’s Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) guidelines, “virtual reference” service is defined as follows:
|reference service initiated electronically, often in real–time, where patrons employ computers or other internet technology to communicate with reference staff without being physically present. Communication channels used frequently in virtual reference include chat, videoconferencing, Voice over IP, co–browsing, email, and instant messaging .|
Nicholas Joint also affirms the fact that virtual reference services include employing email through “mailto” links and online forms, as well as online chatting and other forms . Several terms are used to describe virtual reference. Some library literature terms it as “technologically–mediated reference, digital reference, electronic reference, remote reference and real–time reference” .
Kathleen Kern pointed out that the term virtual reference could mean any of a number of things such as “chat, videoconferencing, voice over Internet protocol (VOIP), co–browsing, e–mail and instant messaging” . She stated that there is the tendency of some to use the terms “digital reference” and “electronic reference” to refer to virtual reference . Virtual reference may be used to refer to video conferencing and videochats. This is to be distinguished from the traditional chat form of virtual reference which is a “two–way communication” that is also synchronous virtual communication via “communication chat software or IM” . The difference between chat and instant messaging relates to the specific software utilized. “Vendor–based chat” concerns virtual reference that is implemented through chat software commonly acquired through a vendor .
Virtual reference could be synchronous; that is, “a computer–mediated communication that appears in real time” . This includes chat, IM, and video conferencing. It could also be asynchronous virtual reference which is a “computer–mediated communication that is sent by one person and received at a different time by the recipient” . This includes e–mail and text. E–mail is the earliest form of virtual reference and is still the widest used form. E–mail reference allows relative anonymity which enables users to ask questions they may have avoided asking in person .
Virtual reference service could either be done individually by libraries or collaboratively. “Collaborative virtual reference” concerns “a joint venture between two or more libraries to offer a single or shared virtual reference service to their patrons” . In other words, a group of libraries works together to respond to the volume of questions. Libraries usually incur much of the cost of collaborative virtual reference .
Reasons Why Librarians Adopt Virtual Reference Service
According to Kern, many libraries adopted virtual reference due to fortuitous circumstances such as good timing, consortium assistance, or bargain software . The reason for virtual reference may also be due to the need to generate goodwill or due to “peer pressure” of other consortial libraries offering the same service . Additionally, it could be a way of availing themselves of a software trial through the consortium .
Virtual reference service may also be used to address the problem of students who tend to ignore the library’s databases in favor of Google. Databases cost libraries a large amount of money to acquire and it is very disappointing that many students do not make use of these resources . The virtual reference services then may be able to seize the initiative and reach out and bring cyber users in to benefit from more scholarly sources available through the databases.
Due to the advent of technology, many libraries have adopted the idea of rendering reference services virtually. One of the reasons for this development is because most patrons do not visit the physical library as much as they once did . Another reason why virtual reference services came into existence is providing reference services to distant education students. This facilitates the provision of reference service to these users to some extent like the traditional reference service experience . Similarly, patrons who cannot physically come to the library may have access to reference service . Not only does it complement other services, virtual reference may also be a way to publicize the various services that a library has to offer .
With virtual services users are not limited to the old brick and mortar establishment that was the library, but may instead access the library’s resources at any time from anywhere . Another advantage of virtual reference service is that patrons who hitherto were unreachable may now be reached with ease. Chat software allows librarians to better ascertain reference questions than through the use of e–mail. “Co–browsing” and “escorting” the patron is another benefit of virtual reference service . Co–browsing not only allows the librarian to work individually with the patron, but it also permits the patron to see the librarian’s computer screen which affords greater interaction between the librarian and the patron .
Most online users could be reached with this service. Previous non–users could also be reached and enticed by the virtual reference service. Virtual reference service takes online researchers where it finds them and excels at addressing online patron needs .
Just as virtual reference has advantages, it also has several disadvantages, among which are that it taxes the library budget to a greater degree due to over the top expenses such as staff training, software, and incidental costs. Some of the major problems confronting virtual reference service are the issues of “authentication” and “technical compatibility” . For instance, it is possible for librarians to show and assist patrons with print and physical materials; virtual reference service does not afford this type of opportunity, and the referred resources may even require authentication which may deny the patron access in situations where the patron is unable to fulfill the requirement. Jo Kibbee reiterated the effect of the authentication factor when she pointed out that some librarians are in the habit of discouraging unaffiliated patrons through mandatory authentication via a login screen . Other libraries exclude such users from chat or Internet services, but do respond to their e–mail requests .
Another disadvantage is that the staff may be reluctant to adhere to the new service because it may require more training or a refresher course which most staffs may not gladly welcome. Other more pressing priorities of the library may affect the actualization of the service or make the service unworkable. Virtual reference service may also be inappropriate or not needed in the community where the service is being offered. For instance, it will be pretty difficult if not impossible to practice the service in a community where people are not computer–literate.
Samantha Thompson, while observing the flaws of virtual reference service, stated that the librarians do not have the opportunity to ask follow–up questions to strengthen the responsiveness of the service . This is in contrast to the traditional reference service where the patron and the librarian can interact face–to–face and clarify issues. Another flaw of this service is that sometimes “locally mounted resources” are not open to online users . Also, some licenses forbid remote use of their resources while others permit it . This shows that there is no universal rule about licenses.
The New England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO) felt that patrons would be reluctant to fill out an extensive form, thereby deterring them from using the service. A ZIP code was also requested. The essence of requesting the patron’s ZIP code is not to track the patron’s identity, but to ascertain the closest library to the patron to enable the librarian to identify potential resources for the patron .
The cost of this service is a major factor that is responsible for many librarians’ reluctance to adopt chat reference . This is due to the fact that the cost of certain “call center software” can be exorbitant .
In using this system, there is a tendency for some patrons to disappear while online, especially when the librarian and patron are midway into the chat session. This may be caused by a bad connection or a technical difficulty . This type of problem can make virtual reference service very frustrating for librarians.
Eric Zino pointed out in his article that librarians handling virtual reference services are fond of referring patrons to Web sites “with no assurances of authority,” and this is seen as being equivalent to what free search engines such as Google would have provided them . He opined that librarians should “stop acting like computers” .
Factors to Consider
The first step to implementing virtual reference service in the library is to employ a cost–benefit assessment. This is because a library with a fixed budget may be forced to cut funding to other services . Thus, the library must rationally examine anticipated costs in relation to the advantages from the service that are expected for the staff and its patrons . Such cost considerations will include staffing, getting the right software, determination of whether the software will be hosted on the local server or on the vendor’s server, hours, and mode of operation among others .
Software refers to the programs used to direct the operation of a computer, and it is normally accompanied by documentation giving instructions on how to use it. It is one of the vital tools needed for the implementation of a virtual reference service. It is so important that the service cannot start without using some type of software. This is because it affects the type of service a library can offer, how large a library staff will be needed, and what type of data can be collected. On the issue of virtual reference software, Steve Coffman mentioned that libraries commonly have not designed their own software for virtual reference. This is because many still rely on the commercial software specifically developed for e–commerce to allow for “live interactive customer service over the Web” . He pointed out from experience that most e–commerce software needs to be adapted for virtual reference. Most of the e–commerce software was designed to handle short and simple straightforward questions, like the price of products, product information, and so forth, but reference service is more demanding in terms of the knowledge base needed .
Coffman further pointed out that most of the e-commerce software does not have a very well developed “on–hold” feature because it was designed for short interactions, but reference service often involves longer sessions depending upon the nature of the patron’s question . Thus, the problem of frequent disconnections between libraries and their patrons cannot be eliminated; however, in spite of the inefficiency of this e–commerce software, it is still the best foundation for the libraries implementing virtual reference service. Further, Coffman opined that the “co–browsing and collaborative capabilities of Web–based customer service software” must be better designed to properly accommodate virtual reference service .
Since chats absorb so much time, it will be a good idea for many libraries to work with voice over Internet protocol (VOIP). Virtual reference service has an advantage over free search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and so forth because librarians “provide access to current, authoritative, and unbiased data in a wide variety of subject areas” .
Robert Slater and Denise Johnson stated that “the type of service a library plans to offer will directly affect their software choices” . They explained that the “ease of use for both the librarians and patrons” should be one of the determining factors in selecting software for virtual reference . They also expressed that the common mode of virtual reference service is the practice whereby libraries place hyperlinks for e–mail on the Web site of the library. Since many libraries are equipped with e–mail service, this is not expensive to implement. Both proprietary and free software for chats exist; free chat software tools include, but are not limited to, AOL, MSN, Yahoo, and ICQ. This software is known as a “messaging tool” and is available for download . It is essential for the librarian and the library user to utilize the same variety of chat device . One major condition for using a messaging tool is that users must establish an account before using the service. A library may, however, avoid the software downloading problem by employing a “Web–based chat room” provided that the library devotes appropriate computing resources to the project .
While the Web–based chat rooms enable both the librarian and the user to communicate via a common Web page, developed for the sort of individual transaction that is the nature of reference. Robert Slater recommended that libraries interested in virtual reference service utilize a more “functional” and “user friendly” tool that affords a greater array of features; such commercial software includes “Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) Question Point” or “LivePerson” . Slater opined that the sophisticated commercial products permit librarians to “share a Web–browsing session with patrons” . Virtual reference tools should afford options for both chat and “collaborative browsing” . The chat tools allow librarians, among other advantages, to store common answers while the browsing component permits a shared Web–browsing opportunity for the patron. Co–browsing allows the patron and the librarian to simultaneously interact with the same Web page, thereby ensuring greater interaction than e–mail, the phone or the basic chat reference .
Courtney Selby, while comparing the e–mail and the chat aspects of virtual reference service, noted that “without the exchange between the patron and the librarian typical of synchronous reference, a clear understanding of the user’s information need would not be reached” ; in other words, live communication is always better and preferable over other forms of virtual reference services. In place of instant messaging software, some libraries use “Call Center Software (CSS)” such as Question Point, Ask a Librarian and Virtual Reference Desk .
Operation of Virtual Reference Service in Law School Libraries
Due to the dearth of materials on the practical experience of school of law libraries concerning virtual reference service, this author compiled questions for a survey which was sent to school of law library directors, heads of reference services and reference librarians. Their responses brought to the fore the experience and view of those in the “driver’s seat” as far as virtual reference service’s implementation in school of law libraries is concerned. Out of the sixty law school libraries contacted, only twenty responded. Although the percentage of the responses was not encouraging, it is a matter of some being better than none.
On the question of whether law school libraries should offer virtual reference service, thirty–five percent of the responses strongly agreed, thirty–five percent agreed, twenty–five percent remained neutral and five percent disagreed. Provided that the sample is representative, it could be deduced from the responses to this question that the majority of the law school libraries are in support of this service in their libraries. Some of the librarians expatiated on their view by giving reasons.
Those law librarians in support of virtual reference services in law school libraries stated that most of today’s students are heavily connected with social media and, therefore, it is only logical to support this service. Another librarian stated that his library is not only in support of this service, but it is is already providing the service. Yet another librarian reasoned that since students are always online, it would be a good idea for the library to be available to them online as well. There were also responses that stated that their library supported the service; however, their virtual library service is e–mail–based and will not accommodate instant messaging, texting, and so forth. Still another response stated that their library is already offering the service, but only for short questions since they have a small staff.
Large demand for library service is another reason proffered by one of the librarians. The librarian stated that the traditional reference service may not be sufficient for meeting the needs of law students in real time and, therefore, there is a need to complement it with the virtual reference service.
Other responses in support of this service stated that this service will be beneficial to students. For instance, a majority of them are used to instant messaging chat and are not strangers to the terrain. Also, since many students commute, faculty work from home and public patrons may be in remote locations, virtual reference services will be ideal in reaching them. Some law librarians also feel that it is always a good idea to review new technologies; however, librarians opposed to this service argued that virtual reference has the tendency to give a false sense to the patron that law reference is simple.
On the question of whether virtual reference service should be an addition to the regular reference service in law school libraries, thirty percent of the librarians strongly agreed and forty percent agreed. Twenty–five percent remained neutral, while only one librarian disagreed. Assuming that the sample is representative, it could be deduced from the percentage of law librarians that supported this service that the majority is in support of virtual reference service being an addition to the regular reference service.
Librarians that supported the idea that virtual reference service should be an addition to the regular reference service substantiated their positions with reasons. One such reasons was that because some patrons do not have virtual access, the regular or traditional reference service should not be eliminated; instead, the virtual reference service should be made to coexist with the traditional reference service. Also, since some students still come to the desk to benefit from the traditional reference service, desk hours should not be cancelled in favor of virtual reference.
Some law librarians also pointed out in their responses that some patrons are shy about openly admitting their lack of knowledge to librarians and that some students might be pressed for time. On the other hand, there are some students who love face–to–face interaction with librarians since they want to know “how to do it” instead of being “spoon–fed.” Due to the fact that patron demands differ, it will be better for libraries to accommodate both the virtual and traditional reference services. Concerns shown by some law librarians about this service is that virtual reference tends to put the remote user in front of the queue, thus giving them an undue advantage over patrons that use traditional reference service.
In a nutshell, the consensus of the majority of librarians concerning this form of reference service is that virtual reference service should only complement traditional reference service and not replace it.
On the question of whether virtual reference service fits the particular needs of law school library patrons and the library organization, thirty percent of the responses strongly agreed that the service fits the needs of law school patrons, forty percent agreed with the notion, fifteen percent remained neutral, and fifteen percent disagreed.
The law librarians in support of the notion that virtual reference service fits the needs of law school library patrons pointed out that reference service is one of the many ways to reach the law students and meet their information needs. Virtual reference service allows greater flexibility in reaching law students and patrons because it transcends the boundaries of space. They stress that the more the library is able to meet the information needs of this set of students and faculty the better the service. The librarians also stated that the service fits the needs of the students and faculty and thereby furthers the library’s mission to support the institution’s curriculum. The library has a greater responsibility to satisfy the students and faculty than outside patrons.
The librarians that are not fully convinced about this service remarked that virtual reference is good, but it is only a means and not the end. A librarian who believed that virtual reference service does not fit the particular needs of law school library patrons retorted that virtual reference service will only cheapen the complexity of reference service and put undue reference duties on the librarians handling the service. Though it has its detractors, and assuming that the sample is representative, it could be deduced from the responses to this question that the majority of law librarians are of the view that virtual reference service fits the needs of law school library patrons.
On the question of whether virtual reference service should be a long–term service, thirty percent of the librarians strongly agreed with this notion, thirty–five percent agreed, thirty percent remained neutral, and five percent disagreed.
Law librarians in support of virtual reference service being a long–term service predicted that as long as Web 2.0 continues to flourish, some form of virtual reference service will continue to be an important part of an academic law library reference service. They also stated that any service feature that reaches a group of students and takes care of their needs should be long term. Other reasons favoring long term virtual reference include that the service should be long–term for the sake of consistency. Many law librarians also believe that the availability of devices such as smart phones and social networking will foster the service, and as a consequence, it should be long–term. Moreover, they believe that the service should not only be seen as long–term, but should be treated as a permanent service.
On the question of whether virtual reference service should be just an add–on, five percent strongly agreed with this notion, and thirty–five percent just agreed. Thirty percent remained neutral, while thirty percent either disagreed or strongly disagreed.
Those librarians who are proponents of virtual reference service stated that they want virtual reference to be an important component of library reference service, though they favor retaining traditional reference service. They felt it should coexist with the traditional reference service and not be the only reference service or even the central focus of reference service. Further, they are emphatic that it should not take priority over traditional reference service. Librarians opposing the service as an add–on stated that traditional reference service is better and more reliable than virtual reference service; thus, there is no reason to add virtual reference service.
On the question of whether virtual reference should be built into the library’s operation and budget, thirty percent of the respondents strongly agreed, thirty–five percent simply agreed, fifteen percent remained neutral, and twenty percent disagreed.
Librarians answering in the affirmative concerning building virtual reference into the library’s operation and budget opined that the library should take into account the need to hire, retain, train, and retrain librarians and student assistants on the use of their electronic resources and technology for delivering information services to the students and faculty. Nevertheless, they believe it could be added with little additional cost because virtual reference operation is inexpensive when implemented at a minimal level.
Those opposing the service, on the other hand, believed that virtual reference would take resources away from important services. Moreover, since they felt it is not a necessary component, it should not be funded. Despite its opponents and assuming that the sample is representative, it could be deduced from responses to this question that the majority of law librarians believe that virtual reference service costs should be built into the library’s operation and budget.
On the question of whether all of the features that constitute virtual reference such as chat, e–mail, instant messaging, and text and video conferencing should be used together, ten percent of the respondents strongly agreed and twenty–five percent merely agreed. Of the remainder, forty–five percent remained neutral and twenty percent disagreed.
The majority of the responses indicated that all of the listed features may not be feasible in one library for a number of reasons. Reasons serving as a basis for this conclusion include staffing issues relating to the frequency of the provision of the service and budget issues relating to both implementing and maintaining the service. Some librarians thought that libraries do not need to offer all of the features, but that all libraries need to determine which services are appropriate for their users and how they interrelate. For instance, e–mail and chat might work for some libraries while texting might not. The other position is that a law school library should not provide all of the variants of virtual reference service unless dictated by resources and usage. If the sample is representative, it could be concluded from responses to this question that the majority of law libraries do not support using all of the features of virtual reference service at the same time.
On the question of whether overcoming the challenges of implementing virtual reference in the law school library is worth it, responses revealed that twenty–five percent strongly agreed, fifty percent simply agreed, five percent were neutral, fifteen percent disagreed, and five percent strongly disagreed.
Law librarians supporting virtual reference stressed that technology and budget are the major challenges of virtual reference service, but it is worth all of the effort as long as the end product is achieved. The end product, of course, is meeting the information needs of certain types of students and faculty. Librarians opposing virtual reference service felt that the service is not worth it or that it is a bad idea that is not worth implementing.
On the question of whether virtual reference service has an effect on law school library patronage, responses indicated that thirty percent strongly agreed with this notion, forty–five percent agreed, fifteen percent remained neutral, and ten percent disagreed. Many librarians answering in the affirmative felt strongly that virtual reference would increase library patronage. They believe that this is the future of information services. Other reasons for supporting this proposition are that it will meet the needs of law students who would not have their information needs met at the time sought and in the most desirable format. Such students can now be attended to and this will boost library patronage. Virtual reference may also benefit patrons outside the traditional service area.
Those librarians disagreeing with this proposition objected that virtual reference service will have a bad effect on law school library patronage because instant gratification does not coincide normally with legal reference service. Another opposing view stated that their library’s experiment with chat, e–mail, and instant messaging for a couple of years did not bring any appreciable change in patronage.
On the question of whether virtual reference service would take over regular reference service, responses revealed that five percent remained neutral, sixty percent disagreed, and thirty–five percent strongly disagreed.
Librarians who believed that virtual reference service cannot take over regular reference service expressed that a variety of access points are good to meet the needs of all patron groups. For instance, in–depth research sometimes requires the use of print or other traditional formats necessitating a visit to the reference desk. Other respondents argued that in–person reference service will always be one of the strongest aspects of the service.
The general perception is that both virtual reference and traditional reference service will complement each other and that virtual reference cannot supplant traditional reference. They stated that this will only happen if all information is online, but this is not the case and will never be the case, according to these librarians. Students still need hands–on experience and this is an area in which reference librarians excel. Availability of both reference services will address the various demands of patrons. For instance, those whose needs could be met by virtual reference do not need to physically come to the reference desk, while those patrons who need someone to physically provide instruction in the use of sources or tools will also be served.
Law librarians also believe that there are built–in limitations for virtual reference when compared to traditional reference. They pointed out that virtual reference interviews are usually less efficient and instruction in resource use is difficult at best when compared to traditional reference.
The New England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO), which formed Library LAWLINE, mentioned that software such as AIM, LiveAssistance, RAKIM, Convey, and others were considered for their operation . NELLCO also favored software hosted on a vendor’s servers rather than software that had to be installed on local servers and would need specialized staffing. Additionally, NELLCO stated that the 24/7 license was preferable because it provides room for users of this product to negotiate for a discount .
Roy Balleste in his article observed that most school of law libraries were reluctant to venture into the arena of virtual reference service. He highlighted the pioneering step taken both by St. Thomas University School of Law and Nova Southeastern University School of Law to create a consortium to render virtual reference service. Relating his experience, Gordon Russell stated that St. Thomas University School of Law Library’s desire for virtual reference service stemmed from the objective of the library to expand its digital holdings, but it was discovered that the expansion did not encourage the students to make use of the digital resources because they could easily get the majority of all their information from the Westlaw and LexisNexis databases to which the institution subscribes, and students have their own password for these resources . If students could not find what they were seeking on Westlaw or Lexis, they searched the Internet but did not rely on the library’s other digital resources . Further, the law library obtained data on the use of the new chat feature available from Lexis called “Live Research Help” for St. Thomas University School of Law and Nova Southeastern University School of Law . The data revealed an increasing trend in use of this new chat service which persuaded Director Russell that the virtual reference service could be effective with these students.
Roy Balleste explained that the library utilizes a chat form of virtual reference, which involves co–browsing in the form of viewing URLs, observing mouse activity, and witnessing other navigational activity . The system selected was developed by Convey Systems which also includes in their product voice over IP, digital video, and secure and encrypted connections for privacy .
Virtual reference service has the same challenges in law school libraries as in other libraries; that is, the cost factor, the staffing, the software, the attitude and the expectations of the patrons, and so forth. It could, however, be deduced from the aforementioned facts that virtual reference services in law school libraries serve a good purpose which is to reach out and give more options to patrons, particularly those who cannot come physically to the library, including the disabled.
Libraries need to let their patrons know what services are available to them. This may be done by advertising their reference and information services effectively on their home page. Diane Kresh pointed out that “many libraries have taken steps to publicize their new virtual reference services, by adding ‘Ask a Librarian’ buttons to their home pages, sending out mailers and getting coverage from the local press” .
NELLCO indicated that patrons may expect “the answer” rather than being taught the “research process” . Some even expect to get legal advice instead of recommendations regarding legal research. Further, many feel disappointed when the transaction does not proceed as they expected. It is, therefore, advisable that libraries provide enough information on their Web site so that “virtual patrons can have a better idea of what to expect from a librarian” . NELLCO also suggested that as soon as a librarian discovers that a patron’s question cannot be fully answered online, the librarian should recommend good resources and direct such a patron to a nearby library .
1. “Guidelines for Implementing and Maintaining Virtual Reference Services.” Reference & User Services Quarterly 44, no. 1 (2004): 9.
2. Nicholas Joint. “Virtual Reference, Second Life and Traditional Library Enquiry Services.” Library Review 57, no. 6 (2008): 417.
3. K. Nilsen, and C. S. Rose. “Evaluating Virtual Reference from the Users’ Perspective.” The Reference Librarian 95/96 (2006): 54.
4. M. Kathleen Kern. Virtual Reference Best Practices: Tailoring Services to Your Library. (Chicago: ALA, 2009), 1–3.
5. Ibid., 4.
6. Ibid., 2–4.
10. Ibid., chapters 1 & 2.
11. Ibid., 3.
12. L. Eakin, and J. Pomerantz. “Virtual Reference, Real Money: Modelling Costs in Virtual Reference Services.” Portal : Libraries and the Academy 9, no. 1 (2009): 134.
13. Kern, Virtual Reference Best Practices, 6.
14. Ibid., 7.
15. Ibid., 7–8.
16. G. Edward Evans and Margaret Z. Saponaro. Developing Library and Information Center Collections, 5th ed. (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2005), 130.
17. R. Slater, and D. Johnson. “Choosing Virtual Reference Software.” in Handbook of Electronic and Digital Acquisitions, Thomas W. Leonhardt, editor. (New York: Haworth, 2006): 127.
18. Ibid., 127–28; Kern, Virtual Reference Best Practices, ch. 2.
19. Slater and Johnson, “Choosing Virtual Reference Software,” 127.
20. Kern, Virtual Reference Best Practices, 8.
21. Bernie Sloan. “Service Perspectives for the Digital Library Remote Reference Services.” Library Trends 47, no. 1 (1998): 117.
22. Diane Kresh. “Virtually Yours: Thoughts on Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going with Virtual Reference Services in Libraries.” The Reference Librarian 79/80 (2002/2003): 24.
25. Joint, “Virtual Reference,” 422.
26. Jo Kibbee, “Librarians without Borders? Virtual Reference Service to Unaffiliated Users.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 32, no. 5 (2006): 469.
27. Ibid., 469–70.
28. Samantha Thompson. “On Being a Virtual World Librarian: Experiences in Offering Live Reference Services in a Virtual World.” The Reference Librarian 50, no. 2 (2009): 222.
29. Scott Matheson. “Library LAWLINE: Collaborative Virtual Reference in a Special Library Consortium.” The Reference Librarian 85 (2004): 106.
31. Ibid., 105.
32. Courtney Selby. “The Evolution of the Reference Interview.” Legal Reference Services Quarterly 26, no. 1/2 (2007): 42.
34. Kresh, “Virtually Yours,” 24.
35. Eric Zino, “Let’s Fix Virtual Reference.” Library Journal 134, no. 2 (February 1, 2009): 94.
37. Eakin and Pomerantz, “Virtual Reference, Real Money,” 137.
38. Ibid., 139–40.
40. Steve Coffman. “We’ll Take It From Here: Further Developments We’d Like to See in Virtual Reference Software.” Information Technology and Libraries (2001): 149.
43. Ibid., 149–50.
45. Slater and Johnson, “Choosing Virtual Reference Software,” 127.
46. Ibid., 128.
47. Ibid., 128–29.
48. Ibid., 129.
49. Ibid., 128–30.
50. Ibid., 129–31.
51. Ibid., 131.
52. Ibid., 131–33.
53. Ibid., 128–37.
54. Selby, “The Evolution of the Reference Interview,” 39.
55. Ibid., 39–40.
56. Matheson, “Library LAWLINE,” 104.
58. Roy Balleste. “Implementing Virtual Reference: Hollywood Technology in Real Life.” Computers in Libraries 23, no. 4 (2003): 14–15.
59. Ibid., 15.
61. Ibid., 16, 18.
62. Ibid., 18.
63. Kresh, “Virtually Yours,” 26.
64. Matheson, “Library LAWLINE,” 109.
65. Ibid., 109–13.
66. Ibid., 111.
American Library Association. Reference and User Services Association. MARS Digital Reference Guidelines Ad Hoc Committee. “Guidelines for Implementing and Maintaining Virtual Reference Services.” Reference & User Services Quarterly 44, no. 1 (2004): 9–14.
Balleste, Roy. “Implementing Virtual Reference: Hollywood Technology in Real Life.” Computers in Libraries 23, no. 4 (2003): 14–18.
Coffman, Steve. “We’ll Take It From Here: Further Developments We’d Like to See in Virtual Reference Software.” Information Technology and Libraries (2001): 149–153.
Eakin, L. and J. Pomerantz. “Virtual Reference, Real Money: Modelling Costs in Virtual Reference Services.” Portal : Libraries and the Academy 9, no. 1 (2009): 133–164.
Evans, G. Edward and Margaret Z. Saponaro. Developing Library and Information Center Collections. 5th ed. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2005.
Joint, Nicholas. “Virtual Reference, Second Life and Traditional Library Enquiry Services.” Library Review 57, no. 6 (2008): 416–423.
Kern, M. Kathleen. Virtual Reference Best Practices: Tailoring Services to Your Library. Chicago: ALA, 2009.
Kibbee, Jo. “Librarians without Borders? Virtual Reference Service to Unaffiliated Users.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 32, no. 5 (2006): 467–473.
Kresh, Diane. “Virtually Yours: Thoughts on Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going with Virtual Reference Services in Libraries.” The Reference Librarian 79/80 (2002/2003): 19–34.
Matheson, Scott. “Library LAWLINE: Collaborative Virtual Reference in a Special Library Consortium.” The Reference Librarian 85 (2004): 101–114.
Nilsen, K. and C. S. Rose. “Evaluating Virtual Reference from the Users’ Perspective.” The Reference Librarian 95/96 (2006): 53–79.
Selby, Courtney. “The Evolution of the Reference Interview.” Legal Reference Services Quarterly 26, no. 1/2 (2007): 35–46.
Slater, R. and D. Johnson. “Choosing Virtual Reference Software.” in Handbook of Electronic and Digital Acquisitions, Thomas W. Leonhardt, editor. New York: Haworth, 2006: 127–142.
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About the author
Olugbenga Ademodi has an LL.B, 1997 from Obafemi Awolowo University; B.L, 1999, Nigerian Law School; LL.M., cum laude, 2004, Master of Laws in Intercultural Human Rights, St. Thomas University, M.L.S., 2009, Texas Woman’s University; and J.S.D (Candidate, St. Thomas University School of Law). He worked as a Public Services Researcher at St. Thomas University School of Law Library in Miami, Florida from 2005 to April 2010. He is currently working on his J.S.D. in Intercultural Human Rights at St. Thomas University School of Law, through which he is exploring the status and rights of indigenous peoples in Nigeria. Olugbenga has participated in conferences and workshops in both Nigeria and the United States. He belongs to organizations such as AALL and SEAALL. In 2008, his article entitled “The Open Source Road to Web 2.0 for Nigeria: A View of Two Worlds from the Outside” was published in the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.