Orientation: Getting Ready for Training
Objectives: To assess current skills, prepare for distance learning, and create a community of learners.

Getting Ready for TrainingThe Reference InterviewBasic Skills & Current AwarenessPolicies & PromotionEvaluating & Improving24/7 Ref LogonTraining Program Overview

      Background Reading        Activities               Assignments
Background Reading
Library Reference goes Live on the Net, Available 24/7
An excellent overview of virtual reference from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Web site; a concise discussion of how digitial reference service has evolved in libraries. Recommended as a reading prior to Orientation.
  • Getting Acquainted Activity (Walking Billboards)

  • A PowerPoint overview of the “Anytime, Anywhere Answers” training curriculum, the methods of delivery, and expectations for learners and trainers. (Download free viewer if you do not have PowerPoint on your computer.)
  • Discussion of Core Competencies for Virtual Reference.  A pre-training assessment of your confidence in your ability to demonstrate these competencies.  (A version of this skills assessment will also be used three months after training to determine the effectiveness of the training.)

  • Virtual Reference: A Work in Progress, a look at the history, current status, and future of virtual reference services in libraries.  (Also in a PowerPoint format)

  • Taking the First Steps to Training.  For the activities, online meetings, and discussions that are key to this training, you’ll be subscribing to some listservs, setting up an “identity-neutral” e-mail account, and using Instant Messaging and chat.

  • Tips for Success with online learning.  Discussion of the kinds of support you’ll need from the trainers and from other learners. Hardware and software requirements for the training.
  • Internet reference skills checklistThese skills will be increasingly important in virtual reference services. This checklist is used at Seattle Public Library as a self-assessment tool for staff. It can help you identify the areas where you may need to upgrade your skills. Joe Barker at UC Berkeley provides a tutorial on Web searching skllls which is updated regularly.
  • Online training pages provide a complete list of readings, activities and assignments for each week of class. They are regularly updated to include new and/or changing information.


  1. Read the article above that is marked "Required."

  2. Send a test message to the VRS Training 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.

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: 11-Feb-2005