E-JASL: The Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship


Date of this Version

Summer 2005

Document Type



Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship (Summer 2005) 6(1-2). Also available at http://southernlibrarianship.icaap.org/content/v06n01/chase_d01.htm.


Copyright 2005, the author. Used by permission.



Many librarians agree that virtual reference has expanded the range of library reference services. Along with an expansion of reference service, virtual reference (especially real-time chat) has influenced reference discourse. Style characteristics of chat include its telegraphic brevity, its conversational and informal tone, and its tendency towards interview and exchange. A bedrock feature of traditional reference service is the reference interview-as this and other aspects of reference exchange are conversational, chat is exceptionally resonant within the continuum of reference services. The virtual reference librarian operates in a medium both familiar and leading-edge (a bridge between the traditional and the innovative), and through which reference services advance into territories governed by emerging technologies and unexpected models of discourse.