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Libraries and colleges -- United States -- Case studies, Academic libraries, Public libraries, Virtual reference services (Libraries)


Purpose – Librarians respond to staffing L-net, Oregon's statewide reference chat service, in different ways. The aim of this paper is to create a survey to look for ways to improve the statewide service and improve the experience of chat librarians (as well as patrons). Design/methodology/approach – The authors surveyed L-net librarians to learn their thoughts and satisfaction with answering L-net chat questions. They collected anonymous survey data via PSU's web survey software (Qualtrics). The survey instrument was a mixture of qualitative and quantitative questions. The survey consisted of 29 questions. Findings – While the literature has many articles regarding patron satisfaction with chat reference, there is a dearth of articles regarding librarian satisfaction with chat. It was found that nearly a quarter of librarians said they did not like answering chat questions on L-net. A total of 76 percent indicated they had received written abuse. Swearing was the number one complaint at 28 percent, followed by sexual comments and rude remarks, which tied at 17 percent. One obvious problem seems to be the anonymity of the service and the way chat can serve as an outlet for youth learning boundaries. Originality/value – While many studies have been done on patron satisfaction, few have studied librarian satisfaction in staffing virtual reference.


This is the post-print version. Originally published as: Arthur Hendricks, Sherry Buchanan, (2013) "From exhaustion to exhilaration: assessing librarian job satisfaction with virtual reference", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 31 Iss: 1, pp.42 – 63.



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