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Virtual Reference Desk project joins WebJunction as Information
Institute of Syracuse and OCLC expand partnership

SYRACUSE, NY--The Virtual Reference Desk, a pioneering project in the
development of digital reference, is moving its resources to
WebJunction, the online community dedicated to emerging technology and
training needs of librarians.  This represents an expansion of the
ongoing partnership between Syracuse University's Information
Institute of Syracuse and OCLC Online Computer Library Center.

The Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) is a project dedicated to the
advancement of digital reference and the successful creation and
operation of human-mediated, Internet-based information services.  The
Information Institute of Syracuse has been home to the VRD since 1997.
OCLC and the Information Institute of Syracuse have collaborated on the
VRD project since 2002.

In the expanded partnership, VRD will make its substantial and highly
regarded body of virtual reference information available to the library
community at WebJunction, a rich environment that includes threaded
discussions, online courses, over 15,000 members, and a growing network
of other partners. The Information Institute will continue the project's
ambitious research initiative, and will collaborate with OCLC on the
2005 Virtual Reference Desk Conference.

"This is a logical move given the success of virtual reference," said
David Lankes, director of the Information Institute of Syracuse. "As
virtual reference becomes the norm, widely implemented in libraries
around the world, VRD needs a home closer to the business of libraries.
OCLC's WebJunction is that natural home."

The Institute will continue to work with OCLC and others on an advanced
research agenda. "Ideas are what we do best," Lankes added. "A
University is an ideal place to push the envelope."

"We are thrilled that WebJunction is expanding to include VRD and the
reference community it serves. The Virtual Reference Desk has a lot of
recognition as a high quality source of unbiased information, and
WebJunction is the perfect place for it to continue to grow," said
George Needham, OCLC Vice President for Member Services. The VRD will
remain a separate project from OCLC's QuestionPoint service.

Originally developed with funding by the United States Department of
Education, The Virtual Reference Desk has grown from a basic research
project in 1997 to a consortium, agenda setting international
conference, tool builder and clearinghouse for the virtual reference
community. The VRD project has been instrumental in creating technical
standards, quality standards, education resources, software and setting
the research agenda in the reference field.

The Information Institute of Syracuse (IIS) at the School of
Information Studies at Syracuse University is a long standing research
center in the areas of education, technology and librarianship. It has
been the source and host for a number of highly visible and widely
successful digital education information services. The IIS created The
Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM, sponsored by the U.S. Department
of Education), The Virtual Reference Desk (VRD), AskERIC and the
Educator's Reference Desk. All projects share the same goal: to improve
student learning by providing educators, policy makers and parents with
quality information to improve teaching and the educational environment.
IIS projects bring together universities, government agencies and
private enterprises to promote easy access to high quality educational
information to a diverse user population.

The School of Information Studies at SU is a nationally ranked center
for innovative programs in information policy, information behavior,
information management, information systems, information technology, and
information services. The School offers an undergraduate degree,
certificates of advanced studies, three professional master's
programs, and a Ph.D. The School of Information Studies was established
in 1896 as the School of Library Science and is accredited by the
American Library Association (ALA). For more information, visit the
School's web site at www.ist.syr.edu.

Contact:
Amy Sloane-Garris
Phone: (315) 443-6885
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