Chatting with a librarian is very similar to instant messaging, and not that different from speaking face to face. While the librarian will not always be able to provide you with the information you are seeking during your chat session (some inquiries require further research or referrals to a subject or format specialist), a live chat session can provide a useful introduction to research using Library of Congress resources.
Initiating a Chat Session
When you submit your initial inquiry to the chat form, please try to provide as much information as possible. It can be helpful to the librarian to know the purpose of your research if you don't mind sharing this information (i.e. is it for a publication, journal article, term paper, work assignment, etc.), and also, what other resources you may already have consulted. This supplemental information enables us to provide you with the best possible service.
Communication Problems: Digital and Verbal
Afternoons tend to be a busy time on the Internet in general, and at the Library in particular, and during the course of your chat, you may occasionally notice some lag-time in a librarian's response to your question. Sometimes this is due to the high level of traffic on the Internet; while at other times, it may be that the librarian you are chatting with is helping several researchers at once (the librarian generally tries to let researchers know when this is the case).
Researchers sometimes respond to slow-downs in communications by trying to open multiple chat sessions at once; it is usually more effective to wait a moment and see if the problem clears. If you find you have opened multiple chat sessions, please try to pick once session to focus on and close out the others if at all possible.
At the end of the session, you will have the option to fill out a survey about your chat reference experience. To help us make the service better, we welcome all feedback, particularly your personal comments.
Once your chat session has ended, a complete transcript (including all Web links discussed) will be sent to the email address you provided when you submitted your question.
The Librarian will also send any follow-up information via email to the address you provided when you initiated the chat session.
If you would like to follow-up with the librarian after your session ends, simply "Reply To" the email transcript you receive (being careful not to change the email's "Subject Line").
If you have technical problems using our live chat service, please submit an error report to the Ask a Librarian Error Report Form describing the problem; or you may submit your inquiry using one of the Library's Ask A Librarian Web Forms, and receive a response within five business days.