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