Papa's Got A Brand New (Virtual) Bag: Real-Time Chat and Reference Discourse


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.

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