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- This topic has 10 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated 7 years, 5 months ago by Deborah Fuller.
August 8, 2015 at 12:01 pm #801
Virtual referencing: The Way Forward?
Libraries are constantly evolving to meet the needs of the users. Ranganathan likened the library to a growing organism in his five laws of library science .Traditionally, reference material was in a print format with the reference desk and reference librarian being the main point of contact Increasingly, however, reference material is becoming available in an electronic format. For example in 2002, 5 exabytes of digital material were produced, which is enough to fill 37000 libraries the size of the National Congress Library in the USA with the equivalent print material. Currently, most of libraries have an extensive and growing virtual reference section. This blog will investigate the advantages and disadvantages of virtual referencing for the user and the librarian.
Online databases and catalogues provide access into virtual libraries, which require skill and knowledge. The library may subscribe to several databases and the user needs to know which ones are available and the most appropriate one to use to best meet their needs. The user also needs to be aware of search strategies in order to retrieve the information that they require. Often databases lack usability, are frustrating and not as easy to browse as print material. From personal experience, having used online library catalogues and databases both in the academic setting and those provided by public libraries, it can be difficult and frustrating to find the information required even when applying search tools such as Boolean.
Conversely, virtual referencing has significant advantages over print referencing for the user. It allows distance and remote learners to access vast quantities of material without leaving their homes. Students who live close to the university often prefer online resources as they can get them immediately, without waiting for someone to finish with them and often download them directly to their computer. Personally, I prefer accessing reference materials online for those reasons and frequently spend time in the library doing this.
The role of the reference librarian has also evolved to meet these changes, with them now providing assistance in person, on the phone and online, either by email or online chat. They therefore need to be confident on the internet, with online searching and be able to communicate effectively with the client using online chat . Librarians need to develop typing skills and communication skills for the online environment, as they can’t rely on body language. The advantage of online chat is that it provides the client with an instant response , although it is rarely the best way to assist with a complicated search. Email, however, provides the librarian with more time to do a thorough search for the client .
Virtual referencing is increasingly becoming the norm in the library environment and it brings with it challenges and opportunities both for librarians and users.
- This topic was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by Deborah Fuller.
- This topic was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by Deborah Fuller.
- This topic was modified 7 years, 6 months ago by Deborah Fuller. Reason: tagging and making references blog like
- This topic was modified 7 years, 6 months ago by Deborah Fuller. Reason: reference links wrong
August 10, 2015 at 3:07 pm #909Robynne Kilborne BlakeParticipant
Thanks for your consise summary of this topic Debbie.
I’ve found that the online chat referencing service at QUT has been wonderful and provided valuable asistance with research, particularly at assignment crisis moments. As I’m often off-campus, having the help of a librarian online has been a very supportive and positive user experience for this user.
August 10, 2015 at 4:42 pm #926
Thanks for your feedback. I am sure at some stage in the near future I will be fully utilising the “Ask a Librarian ” facility at QUT, particularly as it is a while since I studied.
August 11, 2015 at 10:51 am #944Paola BerettaParticipant
I enjoyed reading your post, in particular how you provided a comprehensive overview of how reference services are evolving and your personal experience and insights.
August 16, 2015 at 10:31 am #1022Saurav KhadkaParticipant
Nice, detailed and a post full of information in it. Also, I agree with the positive sides of virtual referencing. It helps save time and energy, likewise, everything is becoming digitized these days, use of tablets and iPad have made it unnecessary to print out things which is in fact more reliable and portable too.
August 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm #1032Katherine LeeParticipant
Hi Debbie. I really liked how you examined the new skills that librarians need to provide efficient virtual reference services. I feel that virtual reference can be more challenging for librarians than the traditional reference desk. Unlike when you are on the physical reference desk, in virtual reference a librarian may have to deal with multiple queries simultaneously. As a result librarians have to also be good at multitasking and thinking on their toes. Virtual reference is a great service, but as you have so rightly identified, will mean that librarians have to develop an extra skills set.
August 16, 2015 at 4:41 pm #1050
Thank you everybody for your feedback which I really appreciate. As my first piece of academic writing in several years, I was a little apprehensive so it was good to get peer feedback before it gets marked and also to read your opinions, which I increasingly seeing as a positive learning experience.
September 12, 2015 at 8:52 pm #1875Steven WalkerParticipant
Hi Deborah, I like the fact your reflection uptakes emerging technologies very strongly and its associated academic abilites espically associated with Ranganathan.
September 13, 2015 at 8:23 am #1885
Thanks Steven. I’m glad you liked my reflection. I think Ranganathan’s laws are still very relevant now to libraries and can be applied in many library settings.
October 1, 2015 at 3:03 pm #2290Chris SonneveldParticipant
I found your post really interesting, thank you. I look forward to the day when virtual referencing is more streamline. At the moment it’s a bit clunky and the user interfaces could be more friendly. I think in the future when virtual mirrors face-to-face interaction (ie. virtual reality) we could definitely reach a wider audience more effectively. I love that virtual referencing provides the means for people who can’t easily access a library can still be helped. I think the technology has a long way to go and like with any new technology people will have to take time to learn how to use it and trust that there is value in using it over face-to-face referencing.
October 6, 2015 at 7:42 am #2327
Thanks for your feedback Chris. I agree that virtual referencing is a bit clunky and can be slow at times, but it beats searching through cards or CDROMS and then having to find the text on the shelf. I think it’s great how our online students aren’t at any disadvantage when it comes to accessing references and that all students and researchers can do their research wherever their computer is.
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