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Banner: Virtual Reference Canada


List Item Benefits

List Item Types of Membership

List Item Guidelines

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Response time
Quality and accuracy
Performance goals

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Virtual Reference Canada aims to deliver cooperative reference services using the skills, knowledge and resources of a wide range of libraries and professional information services. This unique bilingual initiative allows member institutions to expand and enhance their information services by accessing resources, materials and expertise managed by other member institutions within the VRC community.

Member institutions can be Canadian academic, public, special or government libraries as well as museums, archives, information centres, consortia, research institutes or any other organization dealing with information and knowledge that provide professional reference services.

Member institutions recognize both the benefits provided by VRC as well as the obligations to review and support policies, monitor their own performance and manage their internal workflow to optimize these benefits.

It must be noted that for both electronic and print materials, an institution must comply with its contractual licensing agreements, specific restrictions on use and copyright laws.

Below are general guidelines that libraries and related institutions should consider when joining VRC. By following these guidelines, member institutions guarantee the provision of high-quality virtual reference services.

Response time

Questions should be answered promptly to meet a user's information needs. Rapid response is essential to ensuring VRC's success.

Member institutions responsible for answering questions should give high priority to VRC within their organization. While there will be some variation between members, depending on their hours of service and the availability of resources, VRC requires a commitment from all of its members to provide efficient, accurate and timely virtual reference services.

The length of time needed to answer a question will be determined by its complexity and user requirements.

Member institutions should ensure that staff involved in processing reference questions are aware of and comply with VRC performance goals.

Quality and accuracy

Quality and accuracy of answers are critical to all reference work. The success of VRC depends on maintaining the highest level of reference service by providing users with the best possible answers to their queries. All answers will be provided within the confines of Canadian copyright law and the member institution's current guidelines. In addition, responses should be written clearly and related to the level of the inquiry.

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Performance goals

Member institutions

List Item will support and implement the principles of intellectual freedom;

List Item will promote and maintain the highest levels of service;

List Item will offer accurate, skillful, and unbiased responses to reference requests;

List Item will avoid manipulation of information that is likely to mislead;

List Item must distinguish between personal views and those of the employing institution or professional body in order to provide unbiased information;

List Item will provide equitable access and service policies without discrimination;

List Item will recognize and report intellectual property rights;

List Item will protect the privacy and dignity of library users and staff;

List Item will avoid situations where personal interests may be served for financial benefits gained at the institution's expense or that of users or colleagues.

* VRC performance goals have been adapted from the Canadian Library Association's Code of Ethics, the Corporation des bibliothécaires professionnels du Québec's Code de déontologie, the Australian Library and Information Association's Statement on Professional Ethics and the American Library Association's Code of Ethics.