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Virtual Reference


Chat Policy


Broward College’s virtual reference service, or LibChat, is intended primarily for current students, faculty, and staff of Broward College as well as for those dealing specifically with information about Broward College or our partners, Florida Atlantic University and Broward County Public Library, or for those connecting to the service from a computer on campus. Anyone may use the service, but we can only provide limited assistance to those outside the campus community. 

Email and chat reference services are designed to handle questions typically asked at our library help desks, such as questions about finding information on a particular topic, citations, phone numbers, and definitions. Chat services depend heavily on online resources; during chat we are unable to consult print materials in other parts of the library’s collections. Questions requiring in-depth knowledge of a subject or resource may be referred to a student research consultation with one of our faculty librarians. A referral may cause a slight delay in the response time. 


Providing instructional services and access to the world’s knowledge to enrich our diverse community’s educational experience and foster lifelong learning. 

Our Beliefs 

We believe that access to, and the free exchange of, information is a basic human right and the cornerstone of a just society; 

We believe every student needs the opportunity, through discovery, creativity, and critical thinking, to succeed in their academic, professional, and life aspirations, and; 

We believe a student’s academic journey is a shared experience. 

Our Value 

We are Broward College Libraries, building student confidence and opening doors to lifelong learning. 

Code of Conduct 

All patrons will adhere to the Broward College Student Handbook code of conduct which can be found in the student handbook or at the Policies and Procedures page in the Student Affairs section. Regarding inappropriate chats and emails, patrons are not allowed to harass, provoke, or demean staff or use obscene language. We will not answer any inappropriate or intentionally off-topic questions. We will end chats if we deem a question or interaction to be inappropriate and may report the chat, if necessary. 

Patron Privacy 

Broward College Libraries respects the privacy of our patrons. This privacy policy is intended to let users know what information is collected by our Ask A Librarian chat and email service and how it is used. All chats and emails are logged by our Springshare LibAnswers software. The library keeps a staff-use-only database of all the logs collected by Springshare LibAnswers. The information is used to help analyze the amount and types of questions asked by users. We do not use information collected through chat or email service for commercial purposes, including marketing. We value your privacy and would never resell any patron information. You may be asked to complete a survey on the quality of service you receive. All responses are kept confidential and are used to improve our services. You are encouraged, but not required, to participate in the survey. 

Additionally, our service records your IP address and browser information. The information collected is only accessible to librarians and library staff associated with this service. Statistics generated from chat data may be used for reports or publications, but information about specific individuals including name, IP address, email, etc., will never be shared outside of Broward College. Any patrons who would like a record of their chat or email deleted may email the library at to request the deletion of their chat or email transcript.  

Guidelines for Our Service  

What we will answer: 

  • General and directional questions about the institution, the libraries, and their policies. 
  • Questions about the use and operation of our computers and other technology resources. 
  • Questions and assistance about locating sources on a particular topic/question. 
  • Questions about research strategy and navigating our databases, catalog, and other information services. 
  • Questions about library holdings and how to obtain materials that are not owned by the library. 
  • Questions about how to format papers and cite sources in different citation styles and questions about the use of citation management tools. 

What we will not answer: 

  • Requests for legal, medical, financial, or tax advice. 
  • Editing or proofreading services for papers, projects, citations or the like. 
  • Questions that are intentionally inappropriate. 
  • Questions from tests or exams and in-depth assistance with writing papers or theses. 
  • Questions requiring in-depth answers on specific topics: these patrons will be referred to schedule a research appointment with a faculty librarian.  

Process and Procedure 

Reference questions are answered as quickly and capably as possible. Please be aware that the virtual staff may also be staffing a reference desk and may need to assist others. We will notify you if we are assisting another patron. Please be patient and understanding; reference questions will be answered in the order they are received. 

Diversity and Inclusion 

Consistent with Broward College’s vision, mission, and core values, Broward College is committed to fostering a welcoming, affirming, and empowering culture of respect and inclusion, empowering and engaging students, faculty, and staff. The College is committed to inclusive excellence, integrating diversity and quality initiatives by infusing diversity into its organizational processes, structures, and practices. The College affirms its commitment to recruit, support, and retain a diverse student, faculty, and staff community that reflects the diversity of Broward County and to the importance of cultural competency. The College recognizes its obligation to create an inclusive community in which diversity is valued and equal access to educational and employment opportunities are provided free from discrimination, unlawful harassment, and retaliation in accordance with federal, state and local laws.  

Transactions with patrons will be treated as equally important. All questions and requests for information shall be treated as confidential in the sense that, except as may be required by law, the nature of the question asked and the identity of the patron shall not be discussed with other patrons and shall not be divulged beyond that necessary for the orderly and effective administration of the library and the reference service. Reference staff may consult with each other when necessary to serve the patron or consult with staff at other libraries, agencies, and organizations. 


Latest Revision:  April 22, 2021