RUL Virtual Reference Services


2006-2007 Report


In FY 2006/2007, 10, 377 queries were received via Ask a Librarian, the Rutgers email reference service.  This is about a 3 percent increase over the number received in FY 2005/2006 and comes after three years of moderate volume decreases.


Ask a Librarian FY 2006/2007


General Queries

PIN Requests


Queries Received




Answers Sent





Ask a Librarian Users


As usual, Rutgers undergraduates were the most frequent users of the Ask a Librarian service, accounting for 48.3 percent of the queries received during this period.


            Rutgers Undergraduate Students            5010 queries 48.3 percent of total

            Rutgers Graduate Students                       2717 queries 26.2 percent of total

            Rutgers Faculty/Staff                             1231 queries 11.9 percent of total

            Other Rutgers Students/Faculty[2]           111 queries   1.1 percent of total


Rutgers Alumni submitted 429 queries (4.1 percent of total). Only 5 percent of the users submitting queries to Ask a Librarian during this year had no affiliation with Rutgers.


Response Rate


As recorded in the AskAL database, 98.4 percent of the queries submitted received a response.


Response Times


Median response time for requests received improved significantly over the previous year for both general queries and PIN requests:



General Queries/Median Response Time

PIN Requests/Median Response Time

FY 2006/2007

12.6 hours

18.8 hours

FY 2005/2006

17.3 hours

20.8 hours


The Ask a Librarian request form [] states that "A response will usually be sent within 24-48 hours, except on weekends and holidays."


When we exclude queries received over the weekend we see a significant difference in response times:


AAL Queries Received and Answered on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday


General Queries/Median Response Time

PIN Requests/Median Response Time

FY 2006/2007

5.1 hours

14.0 hours

FY 2005/2006

7.6 hours

15.2 hours


The Ask a Librarian Team


During the 2006/2006 fiscal year, 17 librarians answered queries as part of the AAL Reference Team, and 32 access staff responded as part of the AAL Access Team. In addition, staff from Interlibrary Loan, Media, Document Delivery, and Systems monitored and responded to queries in their areas.  Dave Kuzma from Special Collections responded to many queries forwarded to him from Ask a Librarian, as did others.


Jeff Teichmann of the Access Team receives “Mr. AAL” honors for the year having personally responded to 470 queries (353 PIN requests; 117 other access questions); Paul Young is first runner up with 372 responses and holds the daily PIN record (one we assume will stand for a long, long time) with 68 PIN requests received during the afternoon/evening of February 20th!  Glenn Sandberg responded to 341 Interlibrary Loan queries.


Expansion of Virtual Reference Services


An Ask a Librarian Live chat reference service utilizing LiveAssistance software had been offered previously (see Ask a Librarian Live Pilot Project Report and  Virtual Reference Services 2003-2004). This service was suspended in the Fall of 2004 due primarily to staffing issues. In the Spring of 2007 Public Services Council asked the Virtual Reference Task Force to look at options and make recommendations concerning the expansion of RUL virtual reference services to once again include chat reference. This group has submitted its report and it is anticipated that some form of chat reference will be available to Rutgers users in FY2007-2008.



Natalie Borisovets

RUL Virtual Reference Services Coordinator

July 31, 2007

[1] Includes answers sent by Special Collections and other individuals to whom questions were referred.

[2] Those identifying themselves as “RU Non U.S.-based Students/Faculty” and “RU-Online Students.”