Actual Reference (not virtual)

Aaron Schmidt at walking paper posted about IM yesterday, and made some points that actually relate, in a way, to what I was saying yesterday about the website as a destination.

Aaron’s post focused on IM reference – how IM reference is still very much a reference question, just like someone walking up to the desk, and how one might handle that in a day-to-day situation. His library has a first-come-first-served policy, so if he’s in the middle of an IM reference question, the person walking up to the desk has to wait his/her turn in line. And this gives Aaron an opportunity to introduce the waiting customer to IM reference, too.

That type of policy is another way to shift the focus from a computer-oriented task (answering an IM question) to simply another way of serving your library customers. Put another way, it removes the word “virtual” from virtual reference. Think about it – there’s nothing “virtual” about virtual reference. It’s an ACTUAL reference transaction, just like when someone walks up to the reference desk to ask a question is an actual reference transaction. With both, an actual customer is waiting in line, ready to be served.