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25.  Live Virtual Reference
(August 2003)
Live virtual reference service, which is also known as chat reference, real time digital reference or live reference offers another avenue for libraries to provide reference assistance for their users. It is a convenient and effective way to extend reference services to users outside the library. As online environment are becoming a trend to many library users and with some who do not wish to visit the physical library, it is essential that libraries deliver reference services in various means. Currently, most libraries offer email reference services whereby librarians can take time to carefully compose and response to their questions. However, as many patrons require quick and instant information, libraries are starting to use live virtual reference or virtual chat reference services to supplement the email reference services in order to adapt to the immediate needs of users. More and more libraries are now seen offering this new exciting way to reach library users in real time through the internet and its world wide web. This topical brief defines live virtual reference and explores the reasons for offering virtual live reference in libraries. Presented are also the challenges in providing this service as well as the impacts on library and information services.
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26.  Will Search Engines Replace Librarians?
(July 2003)
The advent of the Internet has enabled loads of information to be made available online. To facilitate the information search process, search engines were available to help information seekers trawl the World Wide Web for the required information. Thus, with the advent of the Internet and more advanced search engines to seek out information on the World Wide Web, will it mean that librarianship will soon be an ‘extinct’ profession? This topical brief will analyse if indeed that is the case in the near future. In this regard, part of the outline used in a paper published in 2002 (Tan) on a related topic will be used to assist in the discussion of the topic at hand.
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27.  The Impact of Internet on Library Reference Service
(June 2003)
Libraries are among some of the institutions that are taking advantage of the Internet’s potential. Internet applications like e-mail, World Wide Web and listservs were introduced into the library operations by the end of 1990s. (Di Su, 2001). With the development of the World Wide Web, various aspects of the library operations have been impacted, from library administration like collection and development policies, staffing needs, to the access of information and patron services. Even the design of the library and information centre facilities has undergone major changes to reflect the reliance of online use in today’s libraries. This brief aims to provide an insight on how Internet affects patrons’ reference and information services in the libraries. It covers the new job description of today’s librarians as information providers and introduces the evolution of reference service in today’s electronic era.
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