The Reference librarian
digital reference, virtual reference, reference service, affordance
Digital reference service (also known as virtual reference) has become a contentious topic in the library literature, as some critics feel that it threatens reference service more than it enhances it. Through this paper it is hoped that the debate can be refocused after a careful assessment of what exactly digital reference technology can afford and what social impact such affordances could bring. The suggestion will be made that digital reference should be employed as a means to provide reference service as long as the service is designed to play to the strengths of the technology. As such, it is recommended that libraries pursue digital reference service that is local, professional, and with privacy constraints.
Williams, Mita. (2004). Social Life of Digital Reference: What the Technology Affords. The Reference librarian, 41 (85).