To read this content please select one of the options below:

Virtual reference amid COVID-19 campus closure: a case study and assessment

Maureen Garvey (Library, College of Staten Island, Staten Island, New York, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 2 June 2021

Issue publication date: 19 July 2021




This case study was conducted to assess and make changes to the consortial virtual reference service for the remainder of the period of fully virtual reference (campus closure); a second objective was to consider implications for service design and delivery upon the eventual return to the physical campus.


This paper begins by introducing the institution, reference practices prior to the pandemic and the changes to reference service necessitated by the campus closure. After a literature review of material related to reference and the pandemic, several years of virtual reference service data are analyzed.


The use of consortial virtual reference service has significantly increased in the pandemic, as demonstrated by questions asked by users and questions answered by librarians. Changes to work practices based on these data have been made.


This work is original in that it relates to the physical closure of the campus due to the pandemic, about which, to date, little has been published specifically concerning the design and delivery of reference services.



The author thanks Lorraine Leykam for their help creating the charts.


Garvey, M. (2021), "Virtual reference amid COVID-19 campus closure: a case study and assessment", Reference Services Review, Vol. 49 No. 2, pp. 132-150.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles