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Health Sciences Video Reference Service Debuts

Health sciences researchers and students now have increased access to UCI's expert health sciences librarians, thanks to an innovative new library service. Using digital video technology, librarians provide live video research assistance and instruction between the main campus Science Library and the Grunigen Medical Library at UCIMC. UCI is one of the first academic libraries to pioneer such a service, continuing our longstanding tradition of applying innovations in technology to enhance our services.

Here's how it works: A health sciences librarian located at either the Science Library or the Grunigen Medical Library is on duty to provide live video reference Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. When the librarian is at Grunigen, the researcher uses a video workstation near the Science Reference Desk to see, talk, and interact live with the librarian. As with our Ask-A-Librarian computer-based reference service, the researcher can pose any reference question, request instruction in using online catalogs, or learn the fine points of a particular article database by co-browsing with the librarian. The added audio and video features of the digital video service add an important human dimension to the effectiveness of the interaction.

Feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive. One student said "I really liked the fact that the virtual librarian was able to send me the pages she was looking at," while others noted how enjoyable and successful their experiences were in general.

The Libraries also see a significant benefit: our small cadre of health sciences experts, whose home bases are split between Science and Grunigen, are now more available to UCI's medical community. We are providing personalized library service to remote users while also maximizing our finite human resources.

The Libraries plan to extend video-enhanced reference service to Langson Library, as well as to utilize the skills of librarian subject specialists in all the disciplines. For more information contact Susan Lessick (slessick@uci.edu or 714/456-6488).


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