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Chat with a Librarian: Reference Policy

Virtual Reference Policy

Virtual Reference Policy- Naval War College Library



About Virtual Reference Service

Naval War College Library’s Reference Service uses Springshare’s LibAnswers software to manage and provide online research and reference assistance to Naval War college students, staff, alumni, and faculty.  Users have the choice to chat, send an email, or search the knowledgebase of frequently asked questions (FAQs). The general public is welcome to use the virtual reference service to ask questions that can be answered briefly.


Scope of Service

  • Ask a Librarian is an electronic mail venue for reference questions which may require a reference librarian to email a response to the user.   Referrals and follow-ups are the discretion of the librarian on duty.  The online  knowledgebase of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)  is embedded in Ask a Librarian and it is the recommended starting place for reference inquiries.
  • Online Chat is a real-time reference service venue for patrons with simple questions such as locating specific resources, ready reference, or directional questions.  More complex questions usually require an alternative method of communication, such as an in-person reference interview. For questions requiring in-depth research, patrons are encouraged to use Ask a Librarian, make an appointment, or email  Online Chat is generally available Monday through Friday, 0800-1630, EST, excluding federal holidays, weather closures, and staff shortages.
  • Text a Librarian (401) 415-7051. Texts received outside the hours of operation will be answered of Monday-Friday, 0800-1630 EST.  Texting is also a service venue for simple questions requiring relatively brief answers.
  • Email: Submit in-depth questions to  Requests will be answered in order of receipt.  Users with complex research questions, including term paper research, receive brief guidance in the selection of resources and are invited to visit the Naval War College Library or a library near them for more in-depth assistance.


Hours of Service: Monday-Friday, 0800-1630 EST

  • Email reference service is available 24/7 as an alternative resource during times when Online Chat is closed.  Email will be answered during working hours in order of receipt.


Staffing: All virtual reference service with the exception of Online Chat is provided by reference librarians while on reference desk duty.   Any questions received on a desk shift are the responsibility of the librarian on duty.   Online Chat reference is monitored by all of the reference librarians in their offices vice the reference desk in order to provide a better experience for the patron with less interruption. 


User Privacy:  The Naval War College Library’s Online Chat service (Springshare platform) records all transactions.  Users have the option to have the transcript emailed to them at the close of each session.   A copy will be stored in our database.  Transcripts maintained by the library will be used for assessment and evaluation purposes only.   We will not release any personal data we collect, except as required by law.  In addition, specific questions and answers are archived for educational and research purposes.  All personal information about the user is removed from these archived exchanges.


Time limits: There is no set amount of time to be spent with a patron; however some questions may require the patron to come into the library for more assistance or use e-mail for a more in-depth response.


Chat Etiquette:

  • Be patient.  Network traffic and reference office traffic may affect response time.  A reference librarian will respond to your question as soon as possible.  If your question is urgent, please call the reference desk at 841.3052.  Priority is always given to persons who come to the library for services.
  • Reference questions will be answered in the order they are received.
  • Inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated.  Common courtesies are expected and appreciated.
  • Staff will not tolerate inappropriate behavior.
  • No obscene or derogatory remarks will be tolerated.
  • No solicitation of goods, services or "spam" will be tolerated.
  • Users will refrain from typing in all capital letters.
  • A survey will be available at the end of each chat session for users for feedback and comments about the service.
  • Users who fail to comply with this policy will be blocked from future chats.