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Discussing a National Virtual Reference Service

I really wish I was going to ALA Midwinter this week just so I could participate in the discussion hosted by OCLC on what a national virtual reference service might look like. Here is the description of the event on the registration page for it:

Sunday, January 9
10:30 am – 12:00 pm, San Diego Convention Center, Room 24 A
Building a National Reference Service
Libraries provide virtual reference services locally, with local library staff, and—in some cases—regionally or statewide. While many countries have national reference services, the US does not. Join us for a discussion of what a national ‘ask a librarian’ service could look like, and how it could be accomplished.

I have been aware of some of the discussions over the past few years, but they only seem to take place at ALA events. Is anyone else writing or talking about this someplace else?

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3 Responses

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  1. Jean Costello says

    Hi Stephen – I’m a patron advocate for public libraries. In November 2010, at the request of Library Journal, I wrote an article describing my disappointing experiences seeking reference service in Massachusetts. In response to the article, librarians from across the country reached out to me via the LJ website and directly via email with assistance for the query I cited in the article. Nearly 100 librarians from across the country were able to help me with a reference inquiry that (for various reasons) was not fruitful at my local libraries.

    I think a National Virtual Reference Service could work for many reference inquiries. A link to my LJ article “Why I Don’t Use Libraries for Reference Anymore” and selected comments from the library community are here: http://www.radicalpatron.com/talking-about-our-library-systems/.

    Rgds,
    Jean Costello (aka The Radical Patron)

  2. Stephen Francoeur says

    Jean, thanks for the pointer to your article. I remembering reading the piece when it came out and thinking that I really needed to write a post about it, but I’m afraid that plan got lost among all the well-intentioned blog post drafts that never got beyond my to-do list. FWIW, QuestionPoint has written a blog post about the national virtual reference discussion at the ALA Midwinter meeting.

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  3. Megan Hodge says

    Hi, Stephen–

    I participate in a nation-wide collaborative virtual reference service, My Info Quest. Participating libraries are both public and academic. The project administrator, Lori Bell, and the administrative team presented this past Midwinter, I believe, and had a couple online info sessions earlier this month.