Using virtual reference transcripts for staff training

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The technology of virtual reference software has created new opportunities for libraries to examine the reference interview and consider its role in their institutions. The ability to capture transcripts of reference transactions (or "chats") allows for a routine analysis of the interview in ways only previously available through more time-consuming and awkward means, such as obtrusive studies. This analysis leads to many new possibilities for alternative methods of staff training. This article examines one such method, in which graduate student workers at a university reference desk were asked to examine transcripts of actual virtual reference transactions, using the standard of the Reference and User Services Association's Behavioral Guidelines for evaluation. The study sought to increase the students’ awareness of reference standards and expectations for reference desk behavior, as well as to help the group come to a consensus about how the reference interview should be conducted locally in the online and in-person environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-56
Number of pages11
JournalReference Services Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003


  • Academic libraries
  • Reference services
  • Standards
  • Technological innovation
  • Training
  • Virtual libraries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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