The Virtual Reference Handbook: Interview and Information Delivery Techniques for the Chat and E-Mail Environment

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IM, e-mail, and chat reference is already here, but have you adapted your traditional reference interview and information provision skills to these new formats? ACRL online trainer and popular Internet workshop leader Diane Kovacs has assembled this handbook to help reference librarians develop the communication skills and resources they need to work effectively in the virtual reference environment. The handbook shows how to adapt traditional face-to-face reference interview skills to the virtual interview--and how to interpret and use new cues (chat slang, IM shorthand, emoticons, etc.) to better serve your users. For both chat and e-mail transactions, Kovacs outlines strategies for analyzing the question, conducting the interview, developing a search strategy, and delivering sources. There is guidance for selecting the best information format for users and delivering content in a timely and valuable manner. This practical guide offers everything reference librarians need to move from the face-to-face to virtual transaction with ease.

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Diane K. Kovacs

Diane K. Kovacs is a consultant, teacher, and librarian. She has nine years' experience teaching online in library schools, for both the University of Illinois and San Jose State University. An instructional designer and trainer, she has developed courses for public and academic librarians on technology usage, library instruction, web design, government documents, virtual reference, and electronic collection development. In 2000 she received the "Documents to the People" award from the Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT).

"A practical manual for identifying and learning the skills and knowledge sets key to building librarian competence in providing virtual reference."

--Journal of the Medical Library Association

 "Well-written and easy to understand....this text will be very useful to any librarians venturing into the world of chat reference."
--Legal Information ALERT

"A practical guide to the technical, communication, and reference skills you need to deliver fluent chat and e-mail reference services."
--CandRL News