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Virtual Reference

Well I am off today to the Collaborative Virtual Reference Symposium in Denver. I love the explorations we’re doing with VR. I am very interested in the work of our company Sirsi Docutek as well as others in the industry like OCLC’s Questionpoint and Even the entry level stuff like instant messenger services in libraries and JYBE and Skype.
I like to consider the big picture – the really big picture. These technologies are not just about serving up our reference services virtually. They’re about putting the librarian back into the virtual space! Think about it. We are rapidly moving to the time (if some libraries are not already there) where the vast majority of our interactions with our users will be virtual – website hits, patron driven ILL, remote database searching and on and on. Loads of this happens with very little (or no) interaction with the humans in the library – librarians, information professionals and library workers – that improve the service. While our virtual services deliver information quickly, they don’t improve the quality of the question which has been reference librarians’ stock in trade for more than a century. If we want to improve, remain and stay relevant, we have to discover the virtual reference modalities that work. That requires a lot of experimentation, sharing and cooperation. It’s an exciting field right now as technology moves into the user space more and more.

Posted on: July 12, 2005, 1:16 pm Category: Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Stephen, congratulations on the fine new blog and thanks for this great post to get things rolling! Since I’m not seeing a way to do trackback on this blog yet, I’ll mention that I commented on your ideas above over at the lbr weblog, at…
    Thanks again and kudos!

  2. Barbara Silbersack said

    I like this article. I am concerned about the special library portion. The research on special libraries, although compelling, dates back to the mid-’90’s. I wish some organization could sponsor something more recent.