January 23, 2022

OCLC Research Releases New Report With Recommendations About Virtual Reference

Title: “Seeking Synchronicity: Revelations and Recommendations for Virtual Reference”

Authors: Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D., OCLC Senior Research Scientist, and Marie L. Radford, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Communication & Information, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

The purpose of this new publication,” Connaway said, “is to showcase several years’ and several hundred pages’ worth of work with a few very specific, practical suggestions for sustaining and developing VR services and systems. This short report is designed to be a quick read that is informative in boiling down results from our multi-year research project involving two teams of researchers, at OCLC and Rutgers University.”


The report—Seeking Synchronicity: Revelations and Recommendations for Virtual Reference—demonstrates that today’s students, scholars and citizens are not just looking to libraries for answers to specific questions—they want partners and guides in a lifelong information-seeking journey.

Seeking Synchronicity: Revelations and Recommendations for Virtual Reference, from OCLC Research, in partnership with Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and additionally funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), distills more than five years of VR research into a readable summary featuring memorable quotes that vividly illustrate very specific and actionable suggestions. Taken from a multiphase research project that included focus group interviews, online surveys, transcript analysis and phone interviews, with VR librarians, users and non-users, these findings are meant to help practitioners develop and sustain VR services and systems. The report asserts that the “R” in “VR” needs to emphasize virtual “Relationships” as well as “Reference.” Among the topics addressed are:

  • How convenience is the “hook” that draws users into VR services
  • The exaggerated death of ready reference
  • The importance of query clarification in VR
  • Ways to boost accuracy and build better interpersonal relationships in VR
  • What can be learned from VR transcripts
  • Generational differences in how people perceive reference interactions and determine success
  • The need for more and better marketing of a suite of services – a “multi-asking” approach

Read the Complete Summary/Announcement

Direct to Full Text Report:
“Seeking Synchronicity: Revelations and Recommendations for Virtual Reference” (86 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.