Reference Chatbots in Canadian Academic Libraries




Chatbots, Academic Libraries, Reference


Chatbots are “computer agents that can interact with the user” in a way that feels like human-to-human conversation. While the use of chatbots for reference service in academic libraries is a topic of interest for both library professionals and researchers, little is known about how they are used in library reference service, especially in academic libraries in Canada. This article aims to fill this gap by conducting a web-based survey of 106 academic library websites in Canada and analyzing the prevalence and characteristics of chatbot and live chat services offered by these libraries. The authors found that only two libraries were using chatbots for reference service. For live chat services, the authors found that 78 libraries provided this service. The article discusses possible reasons for the low adoption of chatbots in academic libraries, such as accessibility, privacy, cost, and professional identity issues. The article also provides a case study of the authors’ institution, the University of Calgary, which integrated a chatbot service in 2021. The article concludes with suggestions for future research on chatbot use in libraries.

Author Biography

Julia Guy, University of Calgary

Julia Guy is the Digital Projects, GIS Librarian at the University of Calgary.


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How to Cite

Guy, J., Pival, P. R., Lewis, C. J., & Groome, K. (2023). Reference Chatbots in Canadian Academic Libraries. Information Technology and Libraries, 42(4).