Chatting Without Borders: Assessment as the First Step in Cultivating an Accessible Chat Reference Service

Teagan Eastman, Utah State University
McKenzie Hyde, Utah State University
Katie Strand, Utah State University
Rachel Wishkoski, Utah State University


As distance education programs grow at college and universities across the country, libraries must ensure virtual reference services are prepared to meet the needs of patrons in these programs. This article describes the process and results of a 2018 chat analysis conducted at a midsize research university with a large distance education program. The authors discuss the implications of their findings, as well as their process of closing the assessment loop. By using data to inform changes to virtual reference services, chat becomes more accessible and approachable to all users regardless of location.