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The Virtual Reference Handbook: Interview and Information Delivery Techniques for the Chat and E-mail Environments


Instant messaging, email, and chat reference are already here, but have you adapted your traditional reference interview and information provision skills to these new formats? Diane K. Kovacs has assembled this handbook to help reference librarians develop the communication skills and resources they need to work effectively in the digital reference environment. The handbook demonstrates how to adapt traditional face-to-face reference interview skills to the virtual interview, and how to interpret and use new communication techniques - chat slang, instant messaging shorthand, emoticons, etc - to better serve your users. For both chat and email transactions, the author outlines strategies for analysing the question, conducting the interview, developing a search strategy, and delivering sources in the best information formats for users. Packed with guidance throughout on how to deliver content that is truly timely and value-added, this practical guide offers everything reference librarians need to move from the face-to-face to the virtual transaction with ease.
1. Technical, Communications and Reference Skills and Knowledge for Virtual Reference Librarians 2. Acquire and Improve Technical Skills and Knowledge for Virtual Reference 3. Practice and Expand Communications Skills and Knowledge for Virtual Reference Interview 4. Maintain and Build Reference Skills and Knowledge.

Diane K. Kovacs is an online trainer and Internet workshop leader for the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association.

"This virtual reference handbook does exactly what is says on the tin. It is a very comprehensive and informative structured handbook, designed for self-paced learning and it even has its own accompanying website…On the whole, this is a very thorough book about virtual reference skills (i.e. exactly what it says it is)."


"It is hard to find a fault in this little gem…This is a title that I shall certainly put on my reading list for students, and I can unreservedly recommend it to anyone struggling to get to grips with virtual reference work."

Journal of Documentation

"In summary, Kovacs' Handbook is a mine of information for somebody who has very limited technical skills and who has never worked in a reference service."

Library Review

"The book is thoroughly researched with extensive bibliographies and recommendations for further reading provided. The publication is a valuable toolkit for those seeking to transfer their skills to the electronic era."

Library and Information Research

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