Second Week: Basic Skills and Current Awareness
Objectives: To build current awareness by exploring a variety of virtual reference services.

Required Reading          Activities         Assignments       Recommended Reading  

OrientationGetting Ready for Training Basic Skills & Current AwarenessEvaluating & ImprovingPolicies & Promotion24/7 Ref LogonTraining Program OverviewStatewide VRS Home Page







Required Reading 

Review these important web sites:

Virtual Reference Desk
The Virtual Reference Desk (VRD), a project sponsored by the United States Department of Education, is dedicated to the advancement of virtual reference and the successful creation and operation of human-mediated, Internet-based information services. Their Web site is an excellent source for future reference and current awareness. Conference Proceedings are especially valuable.

Digital Reference Education Initiative
The DREI portal collects virtual reference policies, resources, marketing plans and training materials.

The Teaching Librarian: Digital Reference
Another good site for information on virtual reference service. Includes a helpful glossary and links to other resources.

Bernie Sloan's Home Page
A doctoral student in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Bernie Sloan has been very active in virtual reference service. The bibliographies on this site are particularly comprehensive.

  • Did you subscribe to the DigRef listserv?

  • Keep practicing those Windows management and multi-tasking skills!  (Keys to Organizing Your Virtual Reference Desk)  It takes about a month for a new skill to become a habit!

  • Take some Virtual Field Trips to look at the branding, accessibility, scope of service, authority, and confidentiality policies of a variety of virtual reference services.  Select three Web sites to visit from the VRS directory.  Use the form provided to record your impressions of each site visited.

  • Participate in this week’s chat meeting, using Yahoo Messenger.  The trainers will send date, time, and instructions to you by e-mail.  Remember the Norms for Online Meetings.  We will be using this time to practice chat and online meeting skills.


  1. Visit the Web sites above that are marked “Required.” If you have time, look at Bernie Sloan’s extensive bibliographies on virtual reference.

  2. Participate actively in this week's chat meeting.

  3. Summarize your impressions of the Virtual Field Trips, using these questions to frame your summary. Post your summary to the VRS Training listserv. Which sites will serve as good examples for you in planning and implementing your virtual reference service?

Recommended Reading

Customer Service on the Internet
JIm Sterne. John Wiley & Sons, 2000.
Read Chapter 2, "Customer Service in a Modern World." (If your library doesn't own this book, recommend it for selection.)

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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