Fifth Week: Policies and Promotion
Objectives: To determine the policies and procedures needed for a new virtual reference service and how to market the service.

Required Reading          Activities         Assignments       Recommended Reading  

OrientationGetting Ready for TrainingBasic Skills & Current AwarenessThe Reference InterviewEvaluating & Improving 24/7 Ref LogonTraining Program Overview

Required Reading
RUSA Guidelines for Implementing and Maintaining Virtual Reference Services
A framework for planning and providing virtual reference services, with recommendations on privacy of patron records.

Virtual Reference Services: Marketing Guidelines
Girvin Strategic Branding and Design
Step-by-step procedures for implementing a marketing program for virtual reference services.
  • Now it’s time to take a look at the policies and procedures that form the foundation for your virtual reference service.  Here are some of the questions that your policies and procedures may need to address.

  • Explore the policies and procedures in use by other virtual reference services.  Using the table select three examples from each section (Service Overview for Users, Examples of Privacy Statements, and Guidelines for Staff).

  • Visit the nine examples that you have selected and record your impressions of each site on this form.  Summarize your impressions for the VRS Training listserv.

  • Participate in this week’s online meeting on Marketing of Virtual Reference.  We’ll use the 24/7 Online Meeting software.  The trainers will send date, time, and instructions to you by e-mail.  Remember the Norms for Online Meetings.  Take time to think and reflect on this week's readings and activities in preparation for the online meeting.


  1. Read the marketing guidelines above that are marked “Required.” If you have time, look at the "Recommended" reading.

  2. Summarize your impressions of the examples of VRS policies and procedures that you looked at and post to the VRS Training listserv.

  3. Participate actively in this week’s online meeting on Marketing of Virtual Reference. At the pre-scheduled date and time, click on the 24/7 REF LOGON button and use the Meeting Key provided by the trainers.

  4. Read "Taking the Training Home" and consider ways you could share what you have learned during these five weeks with colleagues at your library.

  5. Fill out the evaluation form for this training and return it to Buff Hirko, VRS Project Coordinator, by fax, mail or e-mail. Congratulations! You have completed Anytime, Anywhere Answers.
Recommended Reading

Marketing virtual reference: is discretion still the better part of valor?
Sarah G. Wenzel and Lisa Horowitz
Using marketing theory as a context, this PowerPoint presentation explores issues relating to the promotion of digital reference services.

10 tips for marketing virtual reference services
Created by Library Communication Strategies for a presentation at the 2002 ALA Annual Conference.

Building digital libraries: know thy remote users
Kim Guenther
Computers in Libraries, 21(4), 52-55. (April 2001)
(via Proquest Direct, Expanded Academic Index, Academic Search Elite).
Suggests strategies for working proactively to understand your remote users' needs and how they use your service in order to guide decision-making about products and services for remote users.

Customer Service on the Internet
Jim Sterne
Wiley & Sons, 2000.
Read Chapter 5, "Encouraging Customer Conversations."

Starting and Operating Live Virtual Reference Services
Marc Meola and Sam Sturmont
Neal-Schuman, 2002.
Read Chapter 6, "Deciding on a Staffing Model."

First Week | Second Week | Third Week | Fourth Week | Fifth Week

Sponsored by the Statewide Virtual Reference Project, Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State.
Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA).

Last Modified: 14-Feb-2005