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10 Apr 2007 / Julie

(inter)national virtual reference service?

After talking to Caleb today, I got to thinking about what a national (or international) virtual reference service would look like.

Does it matter that not all states have a statewide VRS project? Would it matter that we’re not all using the same software? (and -though sort of unrelated- how come the list doesn’t mention any of our general statewide services?)

While watching my laundry tumble around, I came up with a mock up. Whether you like it or not, I hope you comment.


A customer would click on their state (or perhaps the state to which their question may pertain) and be taken to a list of the services (or one service) that the state they chose has:

If the chosen state had no statewide service, and no library within that state providing a VRS, they would see a list of either a) all services by state, b) all services by subject, c) services in states nearest the one they chose, or d) something else I haven’t thought of (perhaps just being routed to a “no affiliation” queue of any given software so librarians monitoring “globally” can grab them.

At this point I don’t think it matters that not everyone providing VRS currently uses the same vendor- once a state is chosen, and a service is clicked, that person would be routed directly to the log in page for that service (here’s Maryland’s for example).

4 steps would be all it took to get to a librarian. 1) Go to (not taken yet). 2) Click on State 3) Click on service 4) Chat with librarian. A better model would be if we could get it down to 3 steps- go to, click on state, chat with librarian. This would mean that there would have to be one “queue” per state with whatever software… a zipcode authentication might then route the customer to the right local library, but they would only be doing 3 steps.

Okay, laundry is done tumbling. Discussion… go!

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