If your customers don't sleep, why should your reference service? Online library reference services available 24/7 are offered in a growing number of institutions. With many models to choose from and more details to be worked out, it is a critical time for librarians to assess their patrons' needs and market their services to address these needs. Collecting and documenting what thousands of virtual reference librarians have learned over the past few years, this comprehensive guide provides a needed overview to help new and aspiring virtual reference library departments - and their directors and administrators, reference librarians, and project managers - to understand the entire process and its ramifications. Here are the basics of designing, implementing, operating, and marketing a virtual reference service from the ground up. In a text supplemented with checklists so key element is forgotten, this reference offers the real-world answers from leading experts to the most common questions: Where has Web-based library reference come from and where is it going? What is the best digital reference software to address specific needs? Who should staff the virtual reference desktop? How
Steve Coffman is one of the leading authorities on digital reference services for libraries. Currently Vice President for Product Development at LSSI (Library Systems and Services Inc.), he has helped thousands of libraries around the world migrate their reference services to the Web. He previously worked as Director of Research Services at FYI, a fee-based business reference service that was part of the County of Los Angeles Public Library. A popular speaker and prolific author, his articles on virtual reference services have appeared in numerous library trade journals. He holds his MLS from UCLA.