In the past decade, library literature has witnessed a spate of studies documenting different aspects of Collaborative Virtual Reference Services (CVRS) and a significant amount of valuable information is spread across numerous individual reports. With the support of the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the authors of this chapter undertook a synergistic effort to examine these studies and identify the popular governance models as well as shared challenges and benefits. They conducted a supplementary survey of librarians with personal experience working in CVRS. The authors found that while collaborative structures are myriad, many utilize similar staffing and management strategies. Benefits of CVRS include shared staffing responsibilities, the extension of service hours, professional and community development, access to specialists, and mitigating the risks of a new service, while challenges include answering local questions, cultural differences, and software and technology problems. The literature on CVRS primarily focuses on single collaborations. While these in-depth examinations are valuable, they cannot provide a “big picture” of how libraries may work together to provide a service. As budgets shrink and ICT-facilitated connections grow, collaboration is an option to which many libraries are turning to for the provision of reference as well as other services. The quality of such collaborations may be improved by considering the lessons presented in this chapter, resulting in better service.
Weak, E. and Luo, L. (2014), "Collaborative Virtual Reference Service: Lessons from the Past Decade", Mergers and Alliances: The Operational View and Cases (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 37), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 81-112. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0065-2830(2013)0000037008Download as .RIS
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