ABSTRACT

Communication by e-mail and chat has become common place. Libraries have responded by developing online reference services-ways for users to communicate their information needs by e-mail or through chat. Initially, they offered e-mail reference services to respond to questions needing short, factual responses. These services have expanded, however, and users are no longer restricted in the types of questions they can submit. Likewise, chat reference services have developed from simple ‘instant messaging’ to include Web site co-browsing. Librarians have been enthusiastic about these new developments. Reports in the literature and conferences on online reference services are frequent.1 Libraries are now evaluating the effectiveness of these services.