This study analyzes 1,557 chat reference questions received at Grand Valley State University Libraries over four semesters to determine the quantity and nature of the questions. Results indicated that use of chat reference was low and that less than a quarter of chat questions required a librarian to answer. The cost of a librarian answering a chat question ranged from $37 to $439 per question. The findings suggest that assigning chat reference to trained reference assistants will not affect patron service and that it is not cost effective to use reference librarians to answer chat questions.


Library and Information Science


Published version available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10875301.2011.595255