Full Record – Author

Ref Type: Journal Article

Authors: Coffman,Steve, Arret,Linda,

Title: To chat or not to chat — Taking another look at virtual reference

Publication Full: Searcher

Year: 2004 Volume: 12 Issue: 7

Start Page: 38 Other Pages: 46

Descriptors: INFORMATION retrieval, ONLINE information services, ELECTRONIC information resource searching, INFORMATION storage & retrieval systems, REFERENCE services (Libraries), UNITED States,


This article assesses the growth of virtual reference systems in the U.S. as of July 2004. Even back in 1999, traditional library reference was in trouble following the appearance of the Web in the early 1990s. More and more people were going to the Internet to get their information, and statistics showed fewer and fewer turning up at library reference desks. A lot has changed since the early days of the virtual reference movement. Many of the commercial reference services that worried a lot of people have either died or gone into other lines of business. At first glance, the one exception to the downward slide in commercial reference services over the past few years appears to be Google Answers. This fee-based reference service lets questioners set the amount they are willing to pay for an answer. A crew of about 500 of Google's freelance researchers choose the questions they want to answer. Despite the fact that Google is on of the most heavily visited sites on the Web, Google Answers does not seem to be going anywhere. As of January 2004, it averaged about 60 to 70 questions per day, down over 50 percent from the daily question the service got in spring 2002. Moreover, the underlying chat technology that powered many live commercial reference services has also failed to find broad acceptance on the Web.


M3: Article; Coffman, Steve 1; Arret, Linda 2; Email Address: linda.arret@verizon.net; Affiliations: 1: Vice President, Business Development, LSSI, Inc. 2: Library Consultant, Reference Services and Technologies Source Info: Jul/Aug2004, Vol. 12 Issue 7, p38; Thesaurus Term: INFORMATION retrieval; Thesaurus Term: ONLINE information services; Thesaurus Term: ELECTRONIC information resource searching; Thesaurus Term: INFORMATION storage & retrieval systems; Thesaurus Term: REFERENCE services (Libraries); Subject Term: UNITED States; Number of Pages: 9p; Illustrations: 1 chart, 1 graph, 3bw. Document Type: Article; Full Text Word Count: 7349

Links: http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/jul04/arret_coffman.shtml

Extra Data: NULL


Retrieved Date:January 1, 1970

Editors: NULL

Book Title: NULL

Series Title: NULL

Publisher: Information Today Inc

Place Of Publication: NULL

Issn Isbn: 10704795