March 20, 2018

Reference Symposium in CO Draws Crowd

By LJ Staff

A Collaborative Virtual Reference Symposium held in Denver July 11-12 was
originally envisioned as a way to educate local librarians, but it ultimately
attracted 120 people, representing 18 states and Canada. While technology–from
chat to voice-over IP–is obviously crucial to this new wave of service, it was
often overshadowed as participants talked about issues related to managing the
people and the relationships involved in the collaborative environment.

Speakers represented local, regional, statewide, multistate, and
international projects, as well as software services such as LSSI, Docutek, OCLC
QuestionPoint!,, and 24/7 Reference. Representatives from 13 state
libraries or state projects reported on the current status of local efforts,
noting different models for collaboration and the problems inherent in each. In
one model, regional groups are funded in an effort to allow collaboration to
evolve over time, which means they may have to reconcile different software
packages. In another model, state libraries use LSTA grants to organize the
effort from the top down, which might conflict with existing library virtual
reference installations.