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Virtual Help

Virtual Help LogoThe Virtual Help Service was developed by CLO, College Libraries Ontario, and OCLS to provide research help through the Learning Portal. Connect with library staff through chat and email to get help with your research for papers, assignments, and other academic projects.


About Virtual Help

Library staff can help you:

  • Get started
  • Formulate research topics
  • Find library and online resources on your topic
  • Select and access appropriate resources
  • Evaluate sources of information

If chat is offline, you will have the option to connect with library staff by email, phone, or in person.

Virtual Help Service Level

Virtual Help is a hub that connects students from Ontario colleges with library staff for help with research and questions about the library. How you are served will depend on your registering college. You may receive help in the following ways:

  • Through live chat with a collaborative service. Questions may be answered by library staff from colleges across Ontario
  • Through live chat with a local chat service
  • Through email or by phone. If chat is offline, you can find contact information for your library


Chat Reference

Chat reference sessions often take 15-20 minutes. In certain circumstances, you may be referred to another institution, source, or contact who has the required subject expertise. More complex questions may need to be discussed in person at your library, however we will try to provide you with information to get you started. Certain restrictions will apply to licensed databases for non-students.

Inappropriate Behaviour

You are getting help from a real person, so please be polite. We will not answer personal questions or questions that contain offensive language. We monitor usage and reserve the right to disconnect those who display rude or inappropriate behaviour.

There are usually two staff members answering chat questions at any given time, and sometimes we are busy managing large numbers of visitors. If you are unable to wait, please try the service again later.


Hours may vary depending on your college. Virtual Help will be closed on regular holidays and when colleges are normally closed. When chat is unavailable you may email your library. By selecting your college in the drop-down menu you will be shown other options for contacting your college library.


We will collect only the minimum amount of visitor information necessary to provide effective service. At the end of a session, chat visitors may print a transcript of the chat or request it by email. If you provide an email address, the address will not be stored or used for any other purpose.

In order to better understand visitor needs and improve the Virtual Help service, we use Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager to collect information about the use of the service. Google collects this information using cookies and similar technologies. For more information about Google Analytics, refer to the Google Privacy Policy and How Google uses data when you use our partners’ sites or apps. You may also choose to opt out of data collection using Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics Opt-out Add-on for your browser.


We would love to hear what you think of the service. Please select the option to complete the Exit Survey at the end of your chat. If you have general feedback about this service, please fill out a comment card.