First Week: Practice for Training
Objective: To practice chat and multitasking skills essential to real-time online reference.

Required Reading          Activities         Assignments       Recommended Reading  

Orientation The Reference InterviewBasic Skills & Current AwarenessEvaluating & ImprovingPolicies & Promotion24/7 Ref LogonTraining Program Overview

Required Reading

What Is Reference For?
Joseph Janes
A presentation made at the 2002 ALA Annual Conference in Atlanta as part of the RUSA program entitled "The Future of Reference Services."

  1. Read the article above that is marked "Required." If you have time, take a look at the "Recommended" readings below.
  2. Using your work e-mail account, subscribe to the DigRef listserv. (Directions can be found in Taking the First Steps to Training.)
  3. Review the Keys to Organizing Your Virtual Reference Desk for some Windows multi-tasking tricks, keyboard shortcuts, and browser tips that will make your virtual reference work more efficient. Choose the skills that you will use most frequently and practice them.
  4. Read Getting Chatty: Conversation at the Virtual Reference Desk.  Think about what is needed for an effective reference interview using chat.  Read some of the articles on chat and IM that are mentioned.
  5. Check out the chat answer services at the L.L. Bean and Lands End (Click on Customer Service and look for the Live Help link). These e-retailers provided the inspiration for 24/7 Reference.
Recommended Reading

Point-of-Need Reference Service: No Longer an Afterthought
Anne Lipow
A presentation made at the 2002 ALA Annual Conference in Atlanta as part of the RUSA program entitled "The Future of Reference Services."

Establishing and maintaining live online reference service
Nancy Kalikow Maxwell
Library Technology Reports, Jul-Aug, 2002, 38 (4). 76 pages
(via Expanded Academic Index, InfoTrac One File, General Reference Center)
A lengthy and well-researched overview of live online reference in all its facets. For this week, read the First Chapter: Introduction to Live Online Reference.

"To Chat or Not to Chat: Taking Another Look at Virtual Reference"
Steve Coffman and Linda Arret
Searcher: the Magazine for Database Professionals
Part 1: July/August 2004
Part 2: September 2004
Coffman and Arret look at the hard decisions that libraries may face as budgets tighten and grant money for virtual reference runs out.

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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: 11-Feb-2005