Replacing staff with students to monitor LibChat service: transition process and lessons learned

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Design/methodology/approachThis article reviews the existing literature on the topics of student assistants participating inlibrary reference services and peer-to-peer engagement. It then details the first step of thetransition process used for moving primary chat monitoring responsibility to library studentassistants and away from staff and librarians as it existed previously.PurposeThis article details the incorporation of student assistants into a newly implemented chat service.It details the approaches used for training students and developing the chat repertoire.FindingsIncorporating student assistants into the chat rotation was beneficial to the libraries and to thestudents participating in the chat service. While librarians and staff enjoyed help in covering thehours, student assistants learned research skills on the job that would potentially assist them incompleting their course assignments.Originality/valueUtilizing student assistants in library chat services is becoming increasingly popular with budgetcuts and the scheduling demands that continue to grow for librarians and library staff. Thisarticle provides context for incorporating students and shows the value that the students receivevia their participation in a chat service.

Information services, Public services, Reference Services, Student assistants, Virtual reference, COVID-19