As you may know, the DLF, OCLC and others are supporting a study of online
reference services being conducted by Charles Mcclure and David Lankes
(information about the study is available from
For its support, the DLF receives from time to time, information as it
emerges from the study.
"Study Bulletins" are in-process documents created by the research team.
They summarize and communicate findings on the current state of digital
reference services that result from the team’s ongoing review of the
literature, active fieldwork, and data analysis.
Findings published in Study Bulletins are subject to change as more
information is gathered and analyzed. They are a vehicle for keeping
project members abreast of current activities and findings.
The first "study bulletin" was recently received and is appended below.
If you are interested in receiving these "bulletins" as they materialize,
please notify Francois Krodel ([log in to unmask]) and we will ensure they are
sent to you as they become available.
Since they are not likely to be of general interest, I will not, after this
mailing, continue to post them to general DLF lists.
Assessing Quality in Digital Reference Services
Study Bulletin 080101
Current Trends in Digital Reference*
The current standard for digital reference services appears to be
asynchronous: generally email service via a web form posted to the library’s
web page. There is movement toward providing synchronous service using a
variety of modes – chat, video conferencing, instant messaging, and using a
variety of software developed especially for libraries or for customer
relations management (CRM).
The reports on video conferencing show this mode of service to be hampered
by the fact that use of this equipment and software is not wide spread
enough to support it, the technology is still in need of improvement, and
users display discomfort with sitting in front of the camera.
For a list of links to libraries that are engaged in real-time reference
see: LiveRef(sm): A Registry of Real-Time Digital Reference Services,
Another recent trend in academic, public, and government libraries is
interest in the idea of collaborative relationships toward the development
of 24/7 reference service. Representative projects in this vein include:
· The Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) Network,
· The 24/7 Reference Project, http://www.247.ref.org
· The Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS)
· The Ready for Reference Service, http://www.rsa.lib.il.us/ready/
*This is a first installment from the ongoing literature review. This
review is currently in process and these preliminary impressions may be
subject to change as the literature review proceeds.