Virtual Reference Training: The Complete Guide to Providing Anytime, Anywhere Answers

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  • Description
  • About the Authors

Even the best reference librarian can falter when suddenly thrust into cyberspace without the proper tools and training. As online library reference services become commonpractice, there's a critical need to develop core competencies unique to the virtual world—from conducting chats to multitasking. What does it take to be successful at the virtual reference desk? Washington State has committed to training its librarians to provide answers "anytime, anywhere." Now this proven, learner-centered approach is available to libraries large and small, as they confront issues relating to offering virtual reference or improving existing services.

In a training program that promises to make any library staff member—regardless of education or experience—comfortable and proficient in providing virtual reference, expert educator-librarians Hirko and Ross detail:

    14 core competencies designed to foster consistent service
  • Hands-on activities and exercises—online, face-to-face,collaborative and solo
  • Learning activities that take the end-users' perspective
  • Tools for developing a curriculum

Nine appendixes include assessment tools, policies, and procedures, plus funlearning activities like virtual field trips and "secret patron" scenarios designedto assimilate the learning. The software-neutral guide means the trainingworks on any platform. From practical nuts-and-bolts considerations to actualfeedback from learners who have used this program, Virtual Reference Training provides the guidance for developing a program that will help all librarians develop confidence and finesse at the virtual desk.

Buff Hirko

Buff Hirko is statewide virtual reference project coordinator affiliated with the Washington State Library in Olympia. She coordinates grant demonstration projects, training, marketing, evaluation, and other activities focused on developing digital reference service in all Washington libraries. A frequent speaker and regular contributor to professional library publications, she holds her MLS from University of California at Berkeley.

Mary Bucher Ross

Mary Bucher Ross is currently training and development managing librarian at the Seattle Public Library. She designs and presents library staff training and continuing education programs for the Washington State Library, the Washington Library Association, and the University of Washington. She received her MLIS from UCLA and recently completed a certificate in distance learning design at the University of Washington.