Chat with a Victorian librarian – help

About the service

Who can use the service?

We are a Victoria-based service, with a particular focus on helping locals with their information inquiries and answering questions about Victoria, Australia. However, our service is open to everyone, from anywhere in the world and we encourage genuine questions on any topic.

Do I need special software to use the service?

You don't need any special software to use our chat service. All you need is an internet connection (the faster the connection, the better your experience), JavaScript turned on and session cookies enabled in your web browser.

How long will I have to wait for a librarian to respond?

Generally there is only a wait of 1-2 minutes before a librarian will connect and respond to your inquiry. This depends on your internet connection speed and how busy the service is when you log in. During a chat session there may sometimes be a short wait while a librarian looks for relevant information for you. We ask that you be patient if this occurs.

How long will a chat session take?

On average, we can answer most inquiries in 10-15 minutes. This is usually enough time to provide brief answers and provide the details of recommended resources so you can undertake further research yourself after the chat session ends. If you require further assistance and aren't pressed for time, we can refer you to our online inquiry service, which can offer up to two hours in-depth research help by a librarian, with a turn-around time of up to 10 working days.

What will I get from the chat session?

  • The research and information expertise of a Victorian librarian over a chat session of 10-15 minutes.
  • Immediate research guidance, brief answers and recommended online and print resources, including, but not limited to, the Library's own vast collection.
  • Live websites recommended by a librarian available to view in the lefthand pane of the chat webpage.
  • A transcript of the chat session, including all urls and other recommended resources for future reference (if you provide your email address).

Problems using the service

Service closed

If you see a 'Service currently closed' message, you are either trying to access the service outside opening hours, or we are experiencing technical problems. Please try again during opening hours, try another way of contacting us, or try connecting at a later time when our service has resumed normal activity.


You will not be able to connect and use our chat service unless you have Javascript turned on in your web browser. You can use any web browser to access the service, but if you use Microsoft Internet Explorer you will need version 6 or higher. You also need to ensure you have session cookies enabled in your browser.


If you have a firewall set up on your computer, you may not be able to see chat after you connect to the service. If you experience this problem, please exit the service and review your firewall settings – you may need to disable the firewall before reconnecting. Remember to re-enable the firewall after your chat session is over.

Browsing, printing, refreshing & bookmarking

Bookmarking, printing, refreshing your browser or navigating between 'pushed' web pages during a chat session may unexpectedly disrupt your chat session. You should only browse within the chat service frame and not use your browser Back, Forward and Refresh buttons. At the end of your chat session you will be able to view a list of the urls recommended during the session. We suggest that you wait until the end of the session to click on these links to visit the websites and bookmark or print them.

Tips for chatting

Online chat has some similarities to face-to-face chat. It is immediate, personal and allows for a two-way dialogue. However, there are some differences, so we suggest you read our tips to make your chat session as easy and useful as possible.

  • Be patient when you first connect – our librarians work hard to help people as quickly and usefully as possible. They know when you have connected to the service and are waiting, and will be with you as quickly as they can.
  • Type small chunks of conversation at a time – typed conversations are not as fast as spoken conversations so this way you will avoid long gaps between chat responses.
  • Don't be too concerned about perfect grammar – chat is by nature a fast, immediate medium in which shorthand is okay and spelling mistakes are inevitable.
  • Give the librarian time to find your answers – sometimes there may be a short wait while they are searching for the best information to give you.