Alkek Library has been offering chat reference (or virtual reference-VR) since the fall 2004 semester and the popularity has been growing consistently since that time. Our original VR service "Ask a Librarian Live" uses a chat software product which allows the librarian and the patron who has the question to "co-browse." It is very good to use when someone has no idea where or how to begin their research. Librarian can point to links on a Web page and also instruct the user or show them how to conduct a good search.
However, it is a software product that requires both users to have the Windows OS and Internet Explorer in order to work properly. Anyone using a Mac or another browser will not get to experience the full "co-browse" functionality and sometimes causes other issues too.
You can decide for yourself how you want to Ask a Librarian a question. We offer many different ways to ask for help. Turn around for email is often very quick...unless we are short-handed. But usually your answer will be sent to you within 24 hours.