Chat reference: evaluating customer service and IL instruction

Julie Hunter, Samantha Kannegiser, Jessica Kiebler, Dina Meky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Reflecting on the new ACRL Framework, a deficiency was observed in literature on the assessment of information literacy instruction in chat reference. An evaluation of recent chat transactions was undertaken and the purpose of the study was twofold. The purpose of this study is to discover if and how librarians were teaching information literacy skills in chat reference transactions and identify best practices to develop training and resources. Design/methodology/approach: To start, a literature review was performed to identify current industry standards. A rubric, influenced by the ACRL Framework, was developed to evaluate chat transactions from one semester. Results from the assessment were compiled and interpreted to determine current practices. Findings: This study identified the necessity of balancing customer service and instruction to manage student expectations and encourage successful chats. Best practices and strategies that librarians can use to provide a well-rounded service were culled for the development of training and resources. Originality/value: Reference assumes a large portion of the services that academic librarians provide to students. As technology advances, librarians are relying on virtual platforms, including chat reference, as convenient and useful tools to provide reference services to the academic community. While face-to-face reference encourages information literacy instruction, it is challenging to perform the same instruction in a virtual setting where expectations are based on retail models. With the growing use of virtual services, evaluating the success of chat reference based on industry standards is imperative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-150
Number of pages17
JournalReference Services Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 12 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences


  • ACRL framework
  • Customer service
  • Information literacy
  • Instruction
  • Training
  • Virtual reference


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