I have recently been asked to participate in an online discussion with a group of library school students on the future of online reference services. Penn State currently offers online chat reference using software from VRLplus which has served us well for the past few years. VRLplus also provides for a “widget” that we embed on the library’s web site to allow patrons to interact with librarians without opening the full featured version of the chat reference software.
The students have raised good points about using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter for reference service and providing reference services via SMS (text messaging). I am looking forward to more discussions and I feel that I am learning as much from them as they are from me.
So what are your thoughts about the future of online reference?