The University of Scranton in collaboration with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) has been offering a 24/7 virtual chat reference service since the beginning of the fall 2004 semester. The AJCU Virtual Reference Service provides online reference via a chat interface to the students and faculty of the participating Jesuit institutions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Virtual Chat and the University of Scranton e-mail reference services can be accessed from the 24/7 icon
on the main page of the library’s website and via links from many of the sites sub pages.
The AJCU chat service continues to grow both as a collaborative project and at the University of Scranton. An indication of University of Scranton use and participation in the AJCU project is the notable increase from 17 University of Scranton students using the service in November 2004 to 60 chat logins in November 2005. Whereas email reference stats decreased last academic year with the introduction of chat reference, both chat and email reference use by students and faculty are on the rise. The availability of electronic resources and an increasing population of students taking classes at a distance make virtual reference services an important and progressive service to our community of learning.
The virtual chat screen will have a new look beginning January 2006. The new web-based program compared to the software platform used up till now promises more reliable and stable connection in the co-browse environment. The new version can be used via a Web or Windows application. The Windows version requires use of Internet Explorer and a desktop download that will be installed as an icon
on the user’s desktop as a direct browser link for regular and repeated use of virtual chat. Instructions and a link for the download will be on the Ask-A-Librarian portal page. The Web version can be accessed from the 24/7 and chat icons available on the library's website and does not need any additional downloads. The Web product is compatible with Internet Explorer, Netscape, Firefox, and AOL browsers.
We look forward to the continued growth and development of both the email and chat virtual reference service and continued growth and development in the online learning community.
If you have questions, logon, we are available to chat.