Enabling the collaborative construction and reuse of knowledge through a virtual reference environment

  • Sánchez J
  • García A
  • Proal C
 et al. 
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This paper analyzes some of the factors that prevent knowledge construction and reuse in traditional library settings and describes VRef, an environment designed to provide users with the functionality of digital libraries in the areas of collaboration and social construction of knowledge. VRef makes it possible for users to post their information needs to a virtual space accessible to all system users. Information needs are addressed by reference librarians or by automated agents that use knowledge about problems solved successfully in the past. Whereas reference librarians have pre-assigned roles in this interaction, other users may volunteer their expertise and participate in the solution of open questions. The interaction among users playing different roles is recorded so successful responses form a valuable knowledge repository that can be reused and enriched by users and their agents. VRef facilitates the transition from the traditional reference desk on to the more dynamic role of a digital reference librarian

Author-supplied keywords

  • agents
  • collaborative workspaces
  • digital libraries
  • hybrid physical/virtual environments
  • shared spaces
  • virtual groups

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  • J. A. Sánchez

  • A. J. García

  • C. Proal

  • L. Fernández

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