Virtual Reference Service: A Golden Opportunity to Embed the Libraries in the Academic Environment

Dr Vijayakumar K. P., Associate Professor and Head, Department of Library and Information Science University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram – 695 034

Introduction

As a person who has made special study of the services offered by the major university libraries in Kerala (of course, in connection with manpower management), I used to wonder why all of them offer the same services without any exception. One possible answer is that all of them emulated the pattern of the Kerala University Library, the forerunner of all university libraries in the state. It is also amazing that nobody – individual or association — in the academic community of the state seems to be concerned about the fact that there is no university librarian in any of the universities in Kerala! Is it due to the lethargy of the stakeholders of the educational process? Or is it a reflection of the thinking in the academic circles that university libraries are not essential ingredients? Or is it because of the fact that our university libraries are not so popular among the clients? It is a truism that even though library professionals are vociferous about the impact of ICT in the information scenario, apart from automating the routine processes, we have done pretty nothing worth the name. This will be clear if we make a comparison of the websites of the universities/university libraries in Kerala with those of the western countries or for that matter even the websites of some of the Indian universities. These are some of the stray thoughts that passed through my mind when I thought of the need for introducing new customer-oriented service in our libraries. One such service that immediately comes to my mind is Virtual Reference Service which is successfully practiced in many of the libraries elsewhere.

Read the full text of this article in the forthcoming  KLA Newsletter Vol. 41, No 3-4 , January-June 2012

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