Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Examining Virtual Reference Services in Academic Libraries in the Middle East

Version 1 : Received: 2 August 2021 / Approved: 4 August 2021 / Online: 4 August 2021 (19:52:41 CEST)

How to cite: Abul, Z.; Alkandari, A.; Alajmi, B. Examining Virtual Reference Services in Academic Libraries in the Middle East. Preprints 2021, 2021080120 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202108.0120.v1). Abul, Z.; Alkandari, A.; Alajmi, B. Examining Virtual Reference Services in Academic Libraries in the Middle East. Preprints 2021, 2021080120 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202108.0120.v1).

Abstract

This research focuses on examining the availability of Virtual Reference Services in academic libraries in the Middle East. Virtual Reference Services could be provided in several ways, for example: by telephone, email, live chat, video conferencing, texting, and recently using social media applications like Twitter. This research will explore the presence of Virtual Reference Services in Middle Eastern academic libraries, and the ways in which they are presented. 55 academic libraries’ websites have been examined with a checklist that includes: the nature of reference services available, the time it took to locate the Virtual Reference Services, the text included in the link to describe the services, and the number of links navigated on the webpage to find the reference services. The main objective of this research is to examine the use of Virtual Reference Services in Middle Eastern university libraries and to increase the awareness of the libraries’ resources and services. Findings of this study showed that live chat as a Virtual Reference Service in the Middle East is not very prevalent. In addition, it was found that email as a means of virtual communication is used most commonly by the academic libraries that provided Virtual Reference Services.

Keywords

virtual reference service; reference services; chat; instant messaging; academic libraries; web forms

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