Virtual Reference Desk moves to WebJunction

Amy Sloane-Garris writes "The Virtual Reference Desk, a pioneering project in the development of digital reference, is moving its resources to WebJunction, the online community dedicated to emerging technology and training needs of librarians. This represents an expansion of the ongoing partnership between Syracuse University's Information Institute of Syracuse and OCLC Online Computer Library Center.

The Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) is a project dedicated to the advancement of digital reference and the successful creation and operation of human-mediated, Internet-based information services. The Information Institute of Syracuse has been home to the VRD since 1997. OCLC and the Information Institute of Syracuse have collaborated on the VRD project since 2002.

In the expanded partnership, VRD will make its substantial and highly regarded body of virtual reference information available to the library community at WebJunction, a rich environment that includes threaded discussions, online courses, over 15,000 members, and a growing network of other partners. The Information Institute will continue the project's ambitious research initiative, and will collaborate with OCLC on the 2005 Virtual Reference Desk Conference.

"This is a logical move given the success of virtual reference," said David Lankes, director of the Information Institute of Syracuse. "As virtual reference becomes the norm, widely implemented in libraries around the world, VRD needs a home closer to the business of libraries. OCLC's WebJunction is that natural home."

The Institute will continue to work with OCLC and others on an advanced research agenda. "Ideas are what we do best," Lankes added. "A University is an ideal place to push the envelope."

"We are thrilled that WebJunction is expanding to include VRD and the reference community it serves. The Virtual Reference Desk has a lot of recognition as a high quality source of unbiased information, and WebJunction is the perfect place for it to continue to grow," said George Needham, OCLC Vice President for Member Services. The VRD will remain a separate project from OCLC's QuestionPoint service."

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