Should Chat Reference be Staffed by Librarians? An Assessment of Chat Reference at an Academic Library Using LibStats

Bravender, Patricia
Lyon, Colleen
Molaro, Anthony
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This study analyzes 1557 chat reference questions received at Grand Valley State University Libraries over four semesters to determine the quantity and nature of the questions. Results indicated that use of chat reference was low and that less than a quarter of chat questions required a librarian to answer. The cost of a librarian answering a chat question ranged from $37 to $439 per question. The findings suggest that assigning chat reference to trained reference assistants will not affect patron service and that it is not cost effective to use reference librarians to answer chat questions.

Published version available at:
Bravender, P., Lyon, C., & Molaro, A., (2011). Should chat reference be staffed by librarians? An assessment of chat reference at an academic library using LibStats. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 16(3), 111-127.