I’m not sure why I’m bothering to post this, as I suspect that anyone reading my blog also probably reads the Dig_Ref listserv, where this was announced yesterday & where I saw it. Still, just in case not…

Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 13:19:06 -0500
Subject: Virtual Reference Desk at SU

Virtual Reference Desk project joins WebJunction as Information Institute of Syracuse and OCLC expand partnership

SYRACUSE, NY–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.

Originally developed with funding by the United States Department of Education, The Virtual Reference Desk has grown from a basic research project in 1997 to a consortium, agenda setting international conference, tool builder and clearinghouse for the virtual reference community. The VRD project has been instrumental in creating technical standards, quality standards, education resources, software and setting the research agenda in the reference field.

The Information Institute of Syracuse (IIS) at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University is a long standing research center in the areas of education, technology and librarianship. It has been the source and host for a number of highly visible and widely successful digital education information services. The IIS created The Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education), The Virtual Reference Desk (VRD), AskERIC and the Educator’s Reference Desk. All projects share the same goal: to improve student learning by providing educators, policy makers and parents with quality information to improve teaching and the educational environment. IIS projects bring together universities, government agencies and private enterprises to promote easy access to high quality educational information to a diverse user population.

The School of Information Studies at SU is a nationally ranked center for innovative programs in information policy, information behavior, information management, information systems, information technology, and information services. The School offers an undergraduate degree, certificates of advanced studies, three professional master’s programs, and a Ph.D. The School of Information Studies was established in 1896 as the School of Library Science and is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). For more information, visit the School’s web site at www.ist.syr.edu.

Amy Sloane-Garris
Phone: (315) 443-6885

I’m not sure what this means yet or what it implies for the future of VRD. I’ll find out, & report back to you, My Beloved Audience. Many of whom probably knew about this before I did. Ah, the self-referential blogosphere.