Several months ago,
the Library introduced a new service: a virtual reference opportunity
to obtain information via Concordia Librarys Web page.
Clicking on the Ask a Librarian option provides on-line access
to the expertise of a professional librarian.
If questions require subject expertise, a subject librarian who is a specialist
in the given discipline may be contacted.
If a question requires expertise from another Library department (i.e.
Circulation, Inter-library Loans, Government Information), the manager
of that department may be contacted by phone, or an e-mail can be forwarded.
This service seems to be working quite smoothly, reported
Director Bill Curran. The response has been very positive.
In fact, about 60 questions were asked of the virtual librarian in October.
Curran said that good feedback and suggestions have come from librarians
about the service, but he sounded a warning note.
Librarians have a number of other obligations, such as reference
desk duties, orientation programs and collection development in certain
disciplines, he said.
This new feature is an opportunity for us to improve our service,
but as with all service points in the Library comes the question of how
much energy and effort to devote to outside users who request information
via the Web.
This is a very important philosophical as well as practical question,
particularly at peak times during each term, when demand may exceed supply.
There may also be unreasonable expectations regarding the Librarys
ability to answer all questions on-line. For the moment, non-affiliated
users are given a standard reply to explain why the virtual librarian
service may not be immediately available. However, each individual librarian
may answer questions from outside users at his/her discretion.
The Librarys virtual reference service can be found at http://library.concordia.ca/services/readyref.html