Programs and events offered through virtual reference are a cost-effective way for libraries to engage with their community; with a virtual session, your users don’t need to visit the library to attend – and the speakers can be off-site as well. This webinar highlights several innovative programs conducted by various members of the Enquire group, the national virtual reference service for the UK, staffed by UK public libraries.
Enquire coordinator Joanne John provides a brief overview of Enquire, then discusses how UK libraries have set up local chat services, in addition to their participation in the national Enquire service. Among the different services discussed are homework help services, such as Essex County Council's popular Homework Helper. In addition, some libraries use their local chat service to present special events, such as: Chat with an Author, Councillor Clinic (elected officials answer questions from their electorate) and Book clinic (customers discuss books, both general and genre specific). Cornwall's local service allowed the library to completely reconfigure the way reference service is provided to the public.
The UK public libraries are increasingly adopting the “local service” model to provide services and programs unique to their communities, in addition to providing 24/7 help through the national Enqiure service. Not only does this raise the profile of the library - it can open up many intriguing ways to collaborate with community leaders, artists and subject experts, regardless of their location. And it can be a lot of fun, too!
This webinar is one of a series of programs hosted by QuestionPoint, designed to promote discussion of virtual reference best practices. If you have suggestions for additional topics, please email Susan McGlamery at email@example.com