Considering Working with Us?

For more than a decade, the Virtual Librarian Service has been working with academic instituions. Therefore, the Virtual Librarian Service from time to time adds new librarians to fill the Adjunct Reference Librarian position. The number of these positions reflect changes by our academic clients. 

If you are a librarian considering work with the Virtual Librarian Service, you will be interested in reading the following 2 documents:

VLS Reference Librarian Job Description

Virtual Librarian Service


What is the job? Many librarians want to know this, if they are thinking of consulting to the Virtual Librarian Service. The job can be pretty heady stuff - you will be making a difference for our students, faculty and administration in our client’s educational institutions. And did you remember you will be virtual. So, a lot of thought has gone into this and our Head of Reference Service and User Experience says it is as accurate as we can make it. The librarian team at VLS reviewed this JD in April 2020 . So here is a

Job Description for the Virtual Reference Librarian

To provide professional, accurate and timely reference assistance by email or live chat to the students and faculty at our client institutions

To meet the first response rate of minutes or hours; but to respond to an inquiry no later than 24 hours

To ensure all students or faculty members receive a high standard of response and assistance

To use scripted responses to reference questions while adding customization that speaks to the specific inquiry

To be keenly aware of and report gaps in the electronic holdings as they relate to the programs offered

To recommend where or what to lease or purchase to maintain the quality of the resource holdings as they support the programs offered

To assist with syllabi review, in addition to the development or updating of instructional research guides and other bibliographic aids

To maintain and expand your knowledge of the complexities of commercial literature databases

To become comfortable and efficient with the technology used to deliver the virtual reference service

To make Jings/videos when required

To always meet the assigned virtual reference service schedule

To meet in person or by electronic means with colleagues as needed

To work with faculty and academic administration staff, sit on academic committees at client institutions

To learn some big concepts surrounding U.S. accreditation at the regional, national and programmatic level.

Essential qualifications:

Language Requirements: English Essential

Education: Graduation from an ALA accredited library or information science program with a master's degree.

Experience:  Some experience in a service environment such as providing traditional reference or research assistance or virtual electronic library reference service, including reference desk service, research assistance, user instruction, or point of service assistance with electronic technologies.

Knowledge of:
• electronic commercial literature sources and their limitations and content
• the principles and theories of library reference service
• the issues and technological developments in the library and social communication field
• email software
• live chat
• web meeting software applications
• use of camera and microphone in meetings

Ability to:
• work within a wholly electronic virtual environment
• deliver effective virtual reference service to students and faculty
• monitor library services and adjust services to meet evolving client information needs
• communicate in writing using a keyboard efficiently
• work independently with little supervision
• conduct effective on-line searches using various databases and sources and to select and use the appropriate resources to verify and locate material or information
• be results oriented
• learn from previous work of other consultants working with Virtual Librarian Service

Personal Suitability:
This can be a lonely position. To offset that, the librarian should be willing to use various collaborative and communication tools to work with their colleagues. You must be able to maintain effective interpersonal relationships; demonstrate initiative, flexibility, and judgment. At the same time being be solely responsible for the quality of your reference assistance to the student and faculty. Also read the document titled “Virtual Librarian Service and Consultants”.

Asset qualifications:
Experience working within an academic setting would be helpful, but so is working in a special library.

Condition of Employment:
You must have a camera and microphone capability on your computer. Access to high speed, reliable internet with a computer capable of live chat, creating videos, attending web meetings and web email regardless of where you choose to work. During the hours that you are responsible for reference service, the computer must be available to you and secure. A confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement with Virtual Librarian Service must be signed.

Operational Requirement:
There is a really small chance that there is an opportunity for occasional travel

Well - that is the best description that the library staff can do. Thanks for reading it.

Melody Hainsworth, MLIS, Ph. D.
Virtual Librarian Service                                                                    

June 15 2020
reviewed/amended September 2012
reviewed/amended May 2013

Reviewed/amended February 2029

Reviewed/amended May 2020

Virtual Librarian Service and consultants

Expectations of The Virtual Librarian Service (

Who is VLS?

In January 2022 VLS celebrated 13 years of great service to clients. VLS is a private virtual library service contracting out administrative, reference, knowledge management, academic liaison and reference service development knowledge to accredited online universities and colleges. Whether the university or college is solely online or a hybrid, we are the academic library in the online delivery of academic programs with all the components of services and management of resources expected. It is our librarians who create a real relationship with staff and faculty online.  We are staffed by ALA accredited librarians reflecting a range of subject specialties, library backgrounds and levels of experience who contract with VLS as self-employed entrepreneurs. We are not an ask-a-librarian service or a consortium.

VLS operates on the premise of providing an environment where self-motivated librarians are paid for output rather than number of hours worked; who can for the most part perform the work when and where they wish (think of sitting under a tree at the park or in an apartment in Venice or just having the freedom to pick your child up from school).

To that end, VLS has embraced the concept of ROWE (Results-Oriented Work Environment).  Combine the basic tenets of self-directed work and pay for output with the world of 100% online reference and academic liaison librarianship and you have defined the VLS work environment.

We are attracted to self-motivated librarians who can competently perform the work contracted to them, with a minimum of oversight. You might be looking for supplementary or full-time income that won’t tie you to someone else’s desk or perhaps you are looking for a bigger professional change that suits your current or planned lifestyle – remember our mention of Venice.  If either describes you, VLS could be the place for you.

Virtual Librarian Service is our Name, Mobility and Fun is our Game

VLS is focused on virtually serving the client while giving our librarians the freedom and flexibility of ROWE. While ROWE by definition provides an enormous amount of choice as to when and where to create work output, at VLS the needs of our clients necessitate that the virtual reference desk be staffed and that project work (we wouldn’t want to bore you with only one kind of task) be completed within an established timeframe. To support our primary mandate of professional client service we have developed and adapted ROWE-style work-flow for the reference service portion of our work. This still allows for great flexibility in when and where the work is performed. Alternatively, the project work that we undertake has little structure and is guided by a deadline and the expectation of quality output. Unlike most iterations of the mobile reference desk (e.g. stack roaming and ask-a-librarian library consortia) VLS is committed to providing librarians with the freedom and flexibility that clients are now demanding from libraries. Everyone is in a win-win situation. Combine ROWE with your own mobile technology (e.g. Laptop, Netbook, tablet, cell phone, turbo stick) and clearly VLS librarians are in control of how mobile or traditional in work environment and habits they wish to be.

Although fun and mobility is close to our heart, there are some things you need to share regularly.  That is because we work collaboratively and try to support each other. So, let us know or give us an alert when you are travelling or may have limited time or limited access to email whether you are on the schedule or not.  We are connected and we have a collective self-awareness need. We work in a collaborative, mutually respectful and supportive environment, while encouraging independence, flexibility and mobility.

Staffing and Retention

Professional librarians are consultants to The Virtual Librarian Service. Training is often cited as the single most important fact in HR retention. At VLS we strive to provide real training that allows the professional librarian to apply knowledge and experience to the reference and project work, while at the same time leaving no doubt as to company expectations and worker responsibilities.  To that end we have developed a 2 month, 4 part, 8 week paid orientation/ mentorship that introduces librarians to our management practices, work-flow and customer service mandate in a supported environment focused on success and retention. The first month the new librarian shadows the experienced librarians, the second month the new librarian takes on a prescribed number of shifts on the desk and are shadowed by those same experienced librarians. The third month, supervision drops off, monitoring is random and your colleagues are there to support your continued learning and success in the position. We encourage you to ask for help; lots of it.

Librarians at The Virtual Librarian Service are not alone as they collaborate with each other using various communication tools such as phone, email, video, Skype (VOIP) and Adobe Connect (or Go-to-Meeting, WebEx, Zoom and so forth). The work environment is collaborative and results oriented for the benefit of the client academic institution, its students and faculty.

Attributes-yes on ocassion we look at this list to make sure we are living up to what we write.

The library consultant that works with the Virtual Librarian Service


• work to deadlines
• respond to unexpected needs of others, at the consultant’s most inconvenient time (our Staff room plaque would read: lack of planning on your part, is deemed an emergency on ours)
• co-operate if necessary
• devise creative solutions to insurmountable problems
• “sell” an idea, decision or solution.
• work in an uncrowded office and not surrounded by people


• self-motivated,
• technology savvy
• willing to learn new stuff – really fast


• to make decisions and be responsible for their decisions
• as a professional librarian, to contribute
• flex time


• good spelling and language structure
• judgment by editing emails before the “send” button is hit
• entrepreneurial good habits
• ability to learn from others