RUSA RSS Research and Statistics Committee (Reference Services Section) Committee
21st Annual Reference Research Forum (2015)
The Research & Statistics Committee will be hosting the 21st Annual Reference Research Forum on Sunday, June 28, 2015 from 10:30-11:30 am in the Moscone Conference Center, room 2014 (W). Come join us for our popular event! We will have 3 wonderful speakers along with time for questions and answers.
Information Behavior of Foreign-Born Students at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Frans Albarillo
This presentation reports the results of a survey of immigrant and international students at Brooklyn College, a large public liberal arts college with a diverse campus that serves many foreign-born and first-generation immigrant students. The survey gathers data on students in these communities to investigate common patterns and explore how these students experience the academic library with a focus on language and culture. This exploratory study was funded by a grant from the PSC CUNY and further developed at the 2014 inaugural Institute of Research Design in Librarianship.
Understanding the research needs of mid-level undergraduate students, Reed College, Marianne Colgrove and Annie Downey
How do sophomores and juniors learn to do independent research and what services, resources and curriculum strategies would help? As part of a larger Mellon-funded initiative, the Reed College Library and IT departments collaborated on a needs assessment in order to understand the gap between faculty and student perspectives on the research process. Using both focus group discussions and a student survey, the needs assessment showed that faculty characterize research as a complex, multi-faceted process and emphasize the importance of a researchable question that drives the process. Many students aren’t sure what faculty expect and often invest so much energy in gathering resources that they run out of time to conduct analysis and integrate their assignment into a unified whole. This study also exemplifies how IT and the library can collaborate to conduct a low-cost self-study that informs the development of new research curriculum and services.
Library as Endangered Species in the Information Ecosystem, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Jean Amaral
When students and faculty need information, where do they go? A year-long ethnographic study at an urban community college suggests it may be anywhere but the library. Amaral will present the results of this study, which call for engaging in a creative reassessment of library services in community colleges.
Ms. Ava Marie Brillat (Chair, July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015)
Amanda Lea Breu (Member, July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2016)
Ms. Ava Marie Brillat (Member, July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015)
Mrs. Lisa Antonia Campbell (Member, July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015)
Cindy L. Craig (Member, July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2016)
Ryan B. Johnson (Member, July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015)
Ms. Elizabeth A. Kocevar-Weidinger (Member, July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2016)
Ms. Shu Qian (Member, July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015)
David Ward (Member, July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2016)
This year, the Research & Statistics Committee hosted the 21st Annual Reference Research Forum on Sunday, June 28th at the Moscone Conference Center in San Francisco. After a double-blind review process, the committee selected 3 research teams to present their results. Frans Albarillo from the City University of New York presented the results of a survey of immigrant and international student research habits to investigate common patterns and to explore how these students experience the academic library. Marianne Colgrove and Annie Downey from Reed College presented the results of a needs assessment to address the gap between faculty and student perspectives on the research process, focusing on the critical sophomore and junior years. The result of a collaborative project between IT and the Library, their presentation shared the fruits of collaboration and assessment that can in turn be used to develop new research curricula and services. Finally, Jean Amaral from the Borough of Manhattan Community College presented the results of a year-long ethnographic study, likening the library to an endangered species and revealing the environmental conditions affecting the change and survival of the community college library. Each presentation garnered a number of interesting questions. The committee also reviewed and posted an annotated bibliography of articles relating to reference research for the 2014 Annual Reference Research Review.
We are pleased to present the Reference Research Review for 2014! Research articles related to reference published in the last year have been carefully chosen by our diligent committee members and collected into our bibliography. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. A big thanks to our committee for creating a wonderful bibliography!
Ava Brillat, Chair
Reference Research Review 2014
Baro, E. E., Efe, B. U., & Oyeniran, G. K. (2014). Reference inquiries received through different channels: The challenges reference librarians face in university libraries in Nigeria. Reference Services Review, 42(3), 514-529. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/RSR-09-2013-0049
To investigate the channels through which librarians in Nigeria receive reference inquiries, the authors distributed an online questionnaire to 67 university libraries. 36 institutions responded, and results indicated that face-to-face traditional reference desk interactions were preferred to other channels such as SMS, instant message, and email. These findings will interest practitioners looking for global perspectives, as well as university libraries in developing countries planning to adopt virtual reference services.
Cassidy, E. D., Colmenares, A., & Martinez, M. (2014). So text me—maybe. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 53(4), 300-312. doi:10.5860/rusq.53n4.300
In this article, authors developed an analytic rubric to assess the quality of text/SMS reference services. Data from a three-year period was assessed for several key performance behaviors, including friendliness and attentiveness. The study results indicated that continued conversations on response time and friendliness in the text/SMS environment are an important component of improving and sustaining quality service. Recommended for librarians seeking another assessment instrument in their reference service evaluation toolkit.
Chan, E. K. (2014). Analyzing recorded transactions to extrapolate the required knowledge, skills, and abilities of reference desk providers at an urban, academic/public library. Journal of Library Administration, 54(1), 23-32. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2014.893113
Focusing on a joint use library, Chan examined reference transactions in order to identify the common skills and knowledge required of reference staff. Using transactional data gathered in Gimlet, the author grouped transactions into four categories: Facilities, Technical/Equipment Assistance, Quick Searches, and Research-oriented assistance. Librarians providing reference in joint use facilities can benefit from the included assessment, which can lay the foundation for continued reference desk training and professional development.
Chan, T., & Johns-Masten, K. (2014). A study of Gimlet use in reference transactions. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 19(2), 73-87. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10875301.2014.938212
Librarians at SUNY Oswego surveyed reference staff about their experiences with Gimlet, a web-based program that tracks reference transactions. Surveys (not included in the article) were distributed internally as well as externally on nationwide library listservs. Conclusions are limited by small response rates (eight internally and twenty externally); however, the overall consensus was that Gimlet was easy to use and improved productivity, although the report generator could be improved.
Chow, A. S., & Croxton, R. A. (2014). A usability evaluation of academic virtual reference services. College & Research Libraries, 75(3), 309-361. http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/crl13-408
This study assessed the usability of virtual reference services delivered via chat, e-mail, phone, text, and Skype. Thirty-one undergraduate and graduate students asked prepared reference questions through each service, then rated them on usability and satisfaction. A variety of factors made chat the most appealing, including real-time interaction and the easy sharing of links. Skype and texting were much less popular than expected.
Faix, A., MacDonald, A., & Taxakis, B. (2014). Research consultation effectiveness for freshman and senior undergraduate students. Reference Services Review, 42(1), 4-15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/RSR-05-2013-0024
Using survey tools, the authors queried freshmen and seniors who attended a mandatory instruction session and research consultation and compared the results to students who only attended an instruction session. Results revealed that weaknesses in information literacy skills can be more fully addressed by librarians in later research consultations. Reference librarians can benefit from this case study as it reveals gaps in reference assessment and preparation that can effectively reconcile future problems in research consultations.
Feldmann, L. M. (2014). Academic business librarians’ assistance to community entrepreneurs. Reference Services Review, 42(1), 108-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/RSR-04-2013-0021
Business librarians in the academic environment can find themselves straddling a wide and more varied patron base due to their work with business community members outside of academia. The author researches the collaborative efforts of academic business librarians through a combination of survey and follow-up interviews. Additionally, Feldmann interviews community patrons who received reference services from academic business librarians. Academic business librarians can benefit from the information on collaborative relationships revealed through the interviews.
Jaeger, P. T., Gorham, U., Bertot, J. C., Taylor, N. G., Larson, E., Lincoln, R., . . . Wentz, B. (2014). Connecting government, libraries and communities: Information behavior theory and information intermediaries in the design of LibEGov.org. First Monday, 19(11). http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v19i11.4900
To better understand the role of public librarians as e-government intermediaries, researchers collected data regarding the information behaviors of the public, public librarians, and government agencies. The collected interviews, surveys, and site visits were used to develop a website, which proved to be more effective for some user groups than others. This article illustrates the challenges of a “one size fits all” approach to delivering government information and services. Librarians can use the findings to inform reference service improvements.
Luo, L., & Park, V. T. (2014). Text 4 health. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 53(4), 326-333. doi:10.5860/rusq.53n4.326
This study places sensitive health-related reference questions in a 21st century user-interaction context. Insightful observations include that patrons may feel more comfortable asking health-related questions via text (or chat) rather than face-to-face or email because it provides a greater level of anonymity. The results of the authors’ work can help staff determine how to better approach these questions and how to develop policies and procedures for successful service implementation.
Luo, L. (2014). Text a librarian: A look from the user perspective. Reference Services Review, 42(1), 34-51. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/RSR-10-2012-0067
This article addresses a gap in reference research by examining text message reference from a user perspective. Authors surveyed users and non-users of a nationwide text reference system called My Info Quest and determined that most non-users were unaware of the service, whereas most users—although utilizing the service occasionally—were satisfied with service quality. Reference librarians can benefit from both the detailed literature review and the information gathered on non-users, which can help with marketing and outreach for text reference services.
Stone, S. (2014). Breaking the ice. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 54(1), 44-49. doi:10.5860/rusq.54n1.44
This study demonstrates that social media outreach initiatives can increase user information seeking requests. The author collected statistics of Facebook reference interactions and found a significant correlation between the numbers of interactions with Facebook friends than with non-Facebook friends. The author’s insights on information seeking behavior and strategies for alleviating library anxiety can benefit reference staff considering expanding their social media services and involvement.
Tang, Y., & Tseng, H. W. (2014). Distance students’ attitude toward library help seeking. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 40(3-4), 307-312. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2014.04.008
Authors Tang and Tseng explore the library help seeking attitudes of distance students through survey data analysis. A survey was distributed to students enrolled in distance learning courses with self-report questions focused on library usage and help-seeking. Interestingly, distance students living close to their campus exhibit similar help seeking behaviors as campus students, preferring to commute to the library in person. Additionally, more outreach and promotion is needed to make all students aware of library assistance services.
Telia, A., & Oyedokun, T. T. (2014). An evaluation of online reference services through social networking sites in selected Nigerian university libraries. The Reference Librarian, 55(4), 343-367. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02763877.2014.947889
Targeting undergraduates in selected Nigerian universities, the authors sought to determine awareness and preferences of online reference services. Survey results from 387 respondents indicated that Facebook, Twitter, and Ask a Librarian were the most preferred methods and more convenient than traditional desk reference services. The authors also draw a correlation between service awareness and service use. Recommended for reference librarians looking for international perspectives.
Vardeman, K. K., & Barba, I. (2014). Reference in 160 characters or less: The role of text messaging in virtual reference services. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 19(3-4), 163-179. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10875301.2014.984098
In this longitudinal study at Texas Tech University Libraries, three years of usage data were downloaded from the text reference service Mosio. Ingoing and outgoing messages were coded by content. One-third of the questions were reference while the rest were simpler queries. Forty-six percent occurred after regular business hours. The authors conclude smart phones make chatting more appealing than simple texting. Therefore, text reference will remain a niche rather than a cornerstone service.
Yang-woo, K. (2014). Typology of ambiguity on representation of information needs. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 53(4), 313-325. doi:10.5860/rusq.53n4.313
The reference interview is a process of disambiguation of user queries for information. In this article, the authors discuss a process of disambiguation of user queries gathered by information systems and services. Although focused on information systems, disambiguation can be aided by increasing user input, clarifying user queries and clustering search results. The process and discussion of disambiguation can help reference librarians understand how to further facilitate more effective interactions between users and information systems. Whether it’s face-to-face or virtual reference or a search engine or database query, how a user’s question is interpreted is key to providing meaningful answers.
Just a quick reminder! Please work to have your annotations to me by May 8th. I’ve had a couple of people respond saying they were not able to find any articles in their journal titles. If you find yourself in that situation, please feel free to submit annotations for any other articles in journal titles not listed below that you think should be included in our Reference Research Review. Please review the attached requirements to make sure they fit the bill. Thanks so much for your work! If you find you don’t have time to review your journal(s), now is the time to let me know. I’ll be happy to help out.
Additionally, I’m looking for a volunteer to be chair next year. If you are interested, send me an email. Thank you!
As a reminder, here’s the journal list:
Library Journal - Shu
Public Libraries – Amanda
RUSQ – Liz
Library Quarterly – David
Portal - Liz
Journal of Academic Librarianship – Ryan
College & Research Libraries – Cindy
Reference Librarian – Lisa
Reference Services Review – Ava
Internet Reference Services Quarterly – Cindy
Library & Information Science Research – Ryan
Library Trends – Shu
First Monday – Lisa
Public Services Quarterly – David
Ava M. Brillat, MLIS
English, Classics, & Theatre Arts Librarian
Richter Library 347B
University of Miami
1300 Memorial Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33124-0320
Reference Research Review : 2009
An annual bibliography highlighting selected works in the reference literature.
Items selected and annotated by members of the American Library Association, RUSA/RSS Research & Statistics Committee (2009-2010).
Armstrong, A. R. (2009). Student perceptions of federated searching vs single database searching. Reference Services Review, 37, 291-303. doi: 10.1108/00907320910982785
This study compared searches in a federated search tool and a single database based on ease of use, perceived relevancy of results, and user preferences. Two sections of college English students completed work sheets designed to elicit information on the above. Fifteen of the 31 student searchers reported that both tools were easy to use and many students were satisfied with their results. These reports suggest that librarians consider teaching students to search in both environments.
Attebury, R., Sprague, N., & Young, N. J. (2009). A decade of personalized research assistance. Reference Services Review, 37, 207-220. doi: 10.1108/00907320910957233
A 10-year longitudinal study tracked information about a library’s Research Assistance Program (RAP), in areas such as usage patterns, investment of librarians’ time, and types of assignments and sources involved in RAP sessions. Data was extracted from the forms completed by students for each session. Academic libraries considering instituting a consultation service, or wanting to benchmark an existing service, will find the data on user demographics (e.g., gender and academic discipline) useful.
Breitbach, W., Mallard, M., & Sage, R. (2009). Using Meebo’s embedded IM for academic reference services: A case study. Reference Services Review, 37, 83-98. doi: 10.1108/00907320910935011
An examination of responses to virtual reference questions over three semesters in a university library was conducted to test the legitimacy of developing an embedded virtual reference (VR) service. The investigators gathered data using LibStats, an Open Source product. Their analysis showed that embedding Meebo increased usage of VR services, particularly requests for assistance with research. Librarians and staff surveyed on Meebo reacted positively. The findings support the use of free software as a viable alternative to commercial products.
Duke, L. M., MacDonald, J. B., & Trimble, C. S. (2009). Collaboration between marketing students and the library: An experiential learning project to promote reference services. College & Research Libraries, 70, 109-121.
Librarians at Illinois Wesleyan University collaborated with marketing classes to investigate how best to promote reference services to students. The classes, working closely with the library’s marketing team, designed surveys on student knowledge/use of reference services and student research habits. The results of this survey inspired the library to reconfigure the information desk and to offer IM reference. The authors also emphasized that librarians should seek student input for any conversation about (re)designing and promoting library services.
Eakin, L. & Pomerantz, J. (2009). Virtual reference, real money: Modeling costs in virtual reference Services. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 9, 133-164. doi: 10.1353/pla.0.0035
As libraries face budget cuts and look to show return on investment, there is an increased need for tools to analyze the costs of services. This study created a model of the costs to individual libraries of collaborative virtual reference services accommodating various modeling types, as well as many of the relevant contributing costs to the overall budget. Costs can be determined for a start-up service or a service that has already been implemented.
Feldmann, L. M. (2009). Information desk referrals: Implementing an office statistics database. College & Research Libraries, 70, 133-140.
Colorado State University Libraries designed a statistics database to track referrals from an information desk created to replace the reference desk. The input form and the data recording guidelines were provided. Results indicate a very small percentage of information desk questions are referred, much lower than in previous studies. The librarians plan to use the data to assess the referral model of reference and to provide information on popular research topics and busy periods of the semester.
Fuller, K., Livingston, J., Brown, S. W., Cowan, S., Wood, T., & Porter, L. (2009). Making unmediated access to e-resources a reality: Creating a usable ERM interface. Reference and User Services Quarterly, 48, 287-301. Retrieved from http://www.rusq.org
The authors focused on how to best make the library’s electronic resources available so that patrons can locate them easily. The library’s existing electronic interface was reviewed through the analysis of query logs and a usability study was then conducted. The study concluded that even well designed Web sites, while intuitive to librarians, were not so to users, and that user feedback was critical to designing Web sites that made user access to electronic resources easy.
Gronemyer, K., & Deitering, A. (2009). “I don’t think it’s harder, just that it’s different”: Librarians’ attitudes about instruction in the virtual reference environment. Reference Services Review, 37, 421-434. doi: 10.1108/00907320911007029
A sampling of librarians was administered an online survey asking them to react to statements on instruction in virtual reference (VR) transactions. Cross tabulation of responses did not support the hypotheses that attitudes toward complex transactions would relate negatively to VR or that regular use of IM would relate positively to VR. Although limited in reach, the study opens the door to examining broader implications such as how VR shifts the control over a transaction away from the librarian.
Hahn, J. (2009). On the remediation of Wikipedia to the iPod. Reference Services Review, 37, 272-285. doi: 10.1108/00907320910982767
The usability of mobile devices for finding information was examined by documenting the searches of three undergraduate students throughout a semester. The students received Wikipedia iPods programmed to record the search queries and titles of articles found. Logs were downloaded and analyzed. Two of the students completed Internet-based surveys (copy included) reporting their opinions on factors such as efficiency, use of information, and satisfaction with search results and the device. The study provides a model for future research.
Imler, B., & Hall, R. A. (2009). Full-text articles: Faculty perceptions, student use, and citation abuse. Reference Services Review, 37, 65-72. doi: 10.1108/00907320910935002
Perceptions of faculty on the use of full-text articles retrieved from print vs online sources were compared to reports from their students on the sources used using a survey designed for both faculty and students. Responses to a student survey (not included) showed whether students used print or online sources most. Faculty were asked to what degree they use online sources and were asked to report on the citing of online sources in their students' papers.
Liu, G., and Winn, D. (2009). Chinese graduate students and the Canadian academic library: A user study at the University of Windsor. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35, 565-573. doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2009.08.001
This paper described a research study at the University of Windsor (Canada) exploring the use of academic libraries and services by Chinese graduate students. The authors employed qualitative research methods involving twelve graduate students who had completed their initial or subsequent degrees in Chinese universities but are now studying at this Canadian university. A number of common themes were described which could be extremely useful in reference services, especially with the upsurge in Chinese students in Canadia and the United States.
Luo, L. (2009). Effective training for chat reference personnel: An exploratory study. Library & Information Science Research, 31, 210-224. doi: 10.1016/j.lisr.2009.04.004
Luo examined which training techniques are effective for chat reference. 286 chat reference providers responded to a survey rating the effectiveness of different techniques. The questions asked in the survey were included. Contextual information, such as length of experience with chat reference, was also gathered, to correlate effective training techniques with these variables. Results show the most effective training techniques for chat reference.
Lyons, C. (2009). Are we covering our own backyards?: An analysis of local research guides created by academic business librarians. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35, 421-430. doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2009.06.002
Lyons made a good argument for librarians to create user guides to community information for users. He checked websites of 70 business schools ranked highly by the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and World Report. After examining schools for local resources guides, he then analyzed the guides using criteria such as numbers of links, inclusion of local, state and national resources, and categories of the resources found. Since the use of library guides seems only to be increasing with the use of such software as LibGuides, this article is important for pointing out a possible gap in reference guides.
Maness, J. M., Naper, S., & Chaudhuri, J. (2009). The good, the bad, but mostly the ugly: Adherence to RUSA guidelines during encounters with inappropriate behavior online. Reference and User Services Quarterly, 49, 151-162. Retrieved from http://www.rusq.org
This study examined whether librarians who adhere to the RUSA guidelines for behavioral performance when dealing with patrons mitigate rude or inappropriate behavior. Chat transcripts were analyzed and coded to determine whether the librarians observed the RUSA guidelines or not, and the analysis then focused on the patron behavior. The study found a low level of adherence to RUSA guidelines and suggested that the development of specific behavior guidelines for reference librarians may be necessary.
Martin, J. L. (2009). Course instructor perceptions of computer-generated bibliographic citations. Reference Services Review, 37, 304-312. doi: 10.1108/00907320910982794
Familiarity with citation management software among faculty and their evaluation of citations in student papers were the foci of this study. Using a survey and descriptive statistics, the author found that respondents (9.6 percent of faculty) were not familiar with computer-generated bibliographic tools, and they count errors in bibliographic citations against a student’s grade. Understanding how faculty evaluate bibliographies helps librarians teaching research skills, and programs that automate the compilation of bibliographies are part of that teaching responsibility.
McClure, R., & Clink, K. (2009). How do you know that?: An investigation of student research practices in the digital age. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 9, 115-132. doi: 10.1353/pla.0.0033
The authors examined the type of sources used in 100 English composition research essays. In addition to replicating previous studies, the authors examined sources used as they relate to timeliness, authority, and bias. The article also presented the results of focus groups with faculty and students. While students seemed to be most comfortable with the concept of timeliness, there is a need for assistance in understanding the concepts of authority and bias.
Meert, D. L., & Given, L. M. (2009). Measuring quality in chat reference consortia: A comparative analysis of responses to users’ queries. College & Research Libraries, 70, 71-84.
The authors studied the quality of consortia chat reference services at the University of Alberta Libraries. The investigators compared the quality of service provided by local librarians versus consortia staff, through analysis of whether the response met reference standards, and whether the question was answered in real time. The study found that local librarians performed better than the consortia staff, but the authors suggest that consortia staff performance could be improved through provision of better information about the Alberta library and campus.
Meserve, H. C., Belanger, S. E., Bowlby, J., & Rosenblum, L. (2009). Developing a model for reference research statistics: Applying the “Warner Model” of reference question classification to streamline research services. Reference and User Services Quarterly, 48, 247-258. Retrieved from http://www.rusq.org
This study looked at how to best classify patron transactions in order to better provide reference services. Staff at each service point in the library collected and categorized data using a form developed for the study based on the Warner Model for classifying reference questions. The study concluded that this was an effective method for collecting statistics, evaluating the effectiveness of services, and can allow the library to make better decisions regarding staffing levels.
Moradi, I., & Hariri, N. (2009). A survey of Iranian academic reference services in terms of librarians’ discipline: Suggesting an organizational structure. Reference Services Review, 37, 355-362. doi: 10.1108/00907320910982839
To test whether a reference librarian’s discipline (or MLS) affects performance in various services, 75 librarians from 33 branches of the Islamic Azad Universities completed surveys. Using chi square analyses, the authors found differences in service delivery between librarians with an LIS degree and those with a non-LIS degree. In the Iranian model of reference, indexing, abstracting, and document delivery are included as reference services, so these findings are particular to that definition of reference.
Osareh, F., Bigdeli, Z., Mansouri, A., & Khasseh, A. A. (2009). A digital reference desk for the National Library of Iran: A prototype based on content analysis of the digital reference desks of the world’s national libraries. Reference Services Review, 37, 221-233. doi: 10.1108/00907320910957242
In an effort to develop an optimal digital reference desk (DRD) for the National Library of Iran, the content features of DRDs available on the Internet in English representing 33 national libraries were analyzed. The features extracted from the content analysis were cross-referenced with features identified as important to a DRD by a group of Iranian specialists. Agreement between the specialists and the DRD content analysis was less than 50 percent. The findings accentuate the need for user-centered design in DRD development. Tables include lists of all content features.
Puente, M. A., Gray, L., & Agnew, S. (2009). The expanding library wall: Outreach to the University of Tennessee’s multicultural/international student population. Reference Services Review, 37, 30-43. doi: 10.1108/00907320910934977
Librarians examined library use patterns of students, faculty, and staff affiliated with their university’s intercultural/international student centers. An online survey presented questions on research behavior and interest in outreach services, such as library instruction at the student centers and foreign-language library materials. The instrument (not included) was patterned after the Scott Walter survey used at the University of Washington. The study validated Walter’s survey as a method for gathering data on information-seeking behavior in minority students.
Rieger, O. Y. (2009). Search engine use behavior of students and faculty: User perceptions and implications for future research. First Monday, 14. Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org
The author examined search engine usage by faculty and students for research and study purposes. The various testing methods looked for differences and similarities in search engine usage levels and usage types. The study methods found high levels of satisfaction and usage of search engines among faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. Variance occurred in usage types between faculty and graduate students and undergraduate students. The study allowed for an examination of user preferences and planning and design for future systems.
Richardson Jr., J. (2009). Good models of reference service transactions: Applying quantitative concepts to generate nine characteristic attributes of soundness. The Reference Librarian, 50, 159–177. doi: 10.1080/02763870902756005
The authors sought to develop a structured vocabulary and assessment methods for building common quantitative models for analyzing and discussing research about the reference transaction. Models in five disciplines were analyzed, and a rubric of characteristics of good and bad models developed. Nine qualitative terminological attributes of good models were then applied to three models of reference transaction analysis. The article presents useful criteria and methodology for choosing, developing, and assessing standardized models for reference research.
Stamatoplos, A. (2009). The role of academic libraries in mentored undergraduate research: A model of engagement in the academic community. College & Research Libraries, 70, 235-249.
This study defined and characterized independent undergraduate research, as distinct from course-related undergraduate research. The author also offers a case study of one library’s involvement in undergraduate research on its campus, and provides recommendations for other libraries interested in engaging with this part of their community.
Strothmann, M., McCain, C., & Scrivener, L. (2009). “Ask a Librarian” pages as reference gateways to academic libraries. The Reference Librarian, 50, 259–275. doi: 10.1080/02763870902873289
The authors analyzed reference assistance web sites for a variety of ARL libraries to determine common characteristics, and specifically how different modes of reference service are promoted through these sites. The study examined 111 of 123 ARL member libraries’ web sites, and documented which of seven types of information were present on each site. In particular, the authors focused on whether online modes of reference are promoted more frequently than walk-up services. The research is a useful examination of how libraries present and conceptualize their reference services online, and has useful implications for reference service marketing.
Walters, W. H. (2009). Google scholar search performance: Comparative recall and precision. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 9, 5-24. doi: 10.1353/pla.0.0034
In this article, Walters compared search results of Google Scholar and of 11 bibliographic databases in the field of later-life migration focusing on their recall and precision. Using 155 known articles, the author evaluated the tools on recall—how well the databases retrieved relevant articles—and precision—how well relevant articles were located and irrelevant articles excluded. For the subject of later-life migration, Google Scholar had the highest recall but lower precision than several of the databases.
Wan, G., Clark, D., Fullerton, J., Macmillan, G., Reddy, D. E., Stephens, J. & Xiao, D. (2009). Key issues surrounding virtual chat reference model: A case study. Reference Services Review, 37, 73-82. doi: 10.1108/00907320910937299
A content analysis of a random sampling of chat transcripts from a two-year period at a university library revealed that subject experts are rarely needed to field questions (only 10 percent of chat questions); co-browsing is important (used in 38 percent of sampled chats); and that peak usage of chat sessions was consistent across time. The study identified major variables related to the management of virtual reference services and a method for measuring those variables.
West, K., & Williamson J. (2009). Wikipedia: Friend or foe? Reference Services Review, 37, 260-271. doi: 10.1108/00907320910982758
The credibility of Wikipedia as a reference tool was tested through a critical evaluation of 106 randomly-selected articles. Articles were rated using a 7-point scale applied to five factors: accuracy, completeness, objectivity, presentation, and overall quality. No factor received a score below 4, however, the raters concluded that inconsistency in quality and coverage is the main drawback of Wikipedia. The article gives librarians concise guidelines for judging any article in Wikipedia.
Xu, C., Ouyang, F., & Chu, H. (2009). The academic library meets Web 2.0: Applications and implications. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35, 324-331. doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2009.04.003
The authors in this study attempted to determine what types of Web 2.0 applications were being used in academic libraries and for what purposes; they also presented a "conceptual model" of academic library use of Web 2.0 applications. They checked the websites of 81 library websites at institutions in New York state to determine what types of Web 2.0 applications were being used and for what purposes. They then analyzed what applications were being used most often and what applications were being used in conjunction with other Web 2.0 applications. Based on the results of this study, the authors presented their model of Web 2.0 use. Since many of these applications center around reference services, and since librarians are being challenged to implement services that will attract our younger users, this article is helpful in informing librarians to use these technologies to improve our services.
Reference Research Review: 2010
An annual bibliography highlighting selected works in the reference literature.
Items selected and annotated by members of the American Library Association, RUSA/RSS Research & Statistics Committee (2010-2011).
Arndt, T. S. (2010). Reference service without the desk. Reference Services Review, 38, 71-80. doi: 10.1108/00907321011020734
A critical examination of reference use at a small liberal arts college led to the removal of the reference desk and the institution of a consultative service. The librarian who oversaw this transformation describes the marketing, staffing, and assessment components of the change in service. The article ends with a list of questions to use to initiate a dialog on examining one’s own reference model.
Barratt, C. C., Acheson, P., & Luken, E. (2010). Reference models in the electronic library: The Miller Learning Center at the University of Georgia. Reference Services Review, 38, 44-56. doi: 10.1108/00907321011020716
The authors tested several types of reference delivery to identify models that best fit the users of the learning commons on their campus. The statistics gathered on types of and numbers of transactions for each model as well as a user survey showed that students rated the in-person reference desk in the learning commons as their first choice for research assistance. The report provides baseline information to librarians charged with reference delivery in a learning commons.
Burger, A., Park, J., & Guisu, L. (2010). Application of reference guidelines for assessing the quality of the Internet Public Library’s virtual reference services. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 15, 209-226. doi: 10.1080/10875301.2010.526479
Burger, Park, and Guisu describe a research project examining the efficacy of reference services offered by the Internet Public Library (IPL). Methodology entailed a transcript evaluation of 528 virtual transactions based on six elements of quality criteria specified by IPL. Findings indicate close adherence to IPL guidelines, which the authors equate to a high level of service. With added implications for virtual reference practitioners, authors discuss the efficacy of socio-emotional content in achieving satisfactory online reference transactions.
Dinkens, D., and Ryan, S. M. (2010). Measuring referrals: The use of paraprofessionals at the reference desk. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 36, 279-286. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2010.05.001
This is a carefully presented case study of one library’s use of a non-librarian, tech-savvy person at the reference desk eight hours per week. The study is quite descriptive and is interesting for the numbers derived, from how many actual reference desk questions require a librarian to how approachable the non-librarian was.
Ferrer-Vinent, I. J. (2010). For English, press 1: International students' language preference at the reference desk. The Reference Librarian, 51, 189-201. doi: 10.1080/02763871003800429
Using surveys of non-native, English speakers, Ferrer-Vinent examines patron preferences for reference service in English or their primary languages. The author found that for the initial interaction, students preferred transactions in English, but follow-up assistance in their primary language. This study can help guide reference departments in thinking about how to better serve their ESL and international student populations.
Ge, X. (2010). Information-seeking behavior in the digital age: A multidisciplinary study of academic researchers. College & Research Libraries, 71, 435-455.
The author reports on an examination of the extent that electronic resources affect the research process used by social science and humanities researchers. This qualitative study consists of interviews with 30 diverse participants (interview guideline is included as an appendix). The study specifically evaluates the relevance of Ellis’s information seeking model (starting, chaining, browsing, differentiating, monitoring, and extracting) and concludes that the model might be expanded to include preparation and planning and information management.
Gerke, J. & Maness, J.M. (2010). The physical and the virtual: The relationship between library as place and electronic collections. College & Research Libraries, 71, 20-31.
This study presents a statistical analysis of factors related to patron satisfaction with electronic resources, as measured by LibQUAL+™ responses. Factors that most significantly related to user satisfaction with electronic collections were the frequency of library website use and the physical library that users visited. This result suggests, perhaps unexpectedly, that despite the shift to the electronic library, investment in other library resources, such as personnel or facilities, still have value to users.
Gerlich, B. K. & Berard, G. L. (2010). Testing the viability of the READ scale (Reference Effort Assessment Data)©: Qualitative statistics for academic reference services. College & Research Libraries, 71, 116-137.
The authors report on their nationwide study of the READ scale as a means of collecting reference statistics, both on and off the reference desk. Data was gathered from 170 individuals at 14 diverse academic libraries. An anonymous survey to solicit feedback on the scale was also part of the study. The authors suggest that use of the scale could transform how reference statistics are gathered and interpreted. [Note: this paper was presented at the 2008 ALA Annual Conference at the Research and Statistics (RSS) Committee’s Annual Reference Research Forum.]
Hahn, J. (2010). Information seeking with Wikipedia on the iPod Touch. Reference Services Review, 38, 284-298. doi: 10.1108/00907321011045043
To test the use of the mobile version of Wikipedia for academic purposes, six undergraduates received iPod Touch devices with a Wikipedia app for five days. Downloaded files from their iPod search logs were coded using FRBR subject entities. Supplemental surveys indicated that all participants used Wikipedia at least once for research and found the library’s Wikipedia app easy to use. The study paves the way for a larger-scale investigation on how students engage with mobile apps.
Hudson, A. (2010). Measuring the impact of cultural diversity on desired mobile reference services. Reference Services Review, 38, 299-308. doi: 10.1108/00907321011045052
A librarian at a culturally diverse campus conducted a survey to examine the types of mobile device-based reference services students desired. The 103 respondents reported using mostly smartphones. African American females and white males were most likely to contact a live reference service for assistance. White females requested e-publications. African American males tended to engage with librarians in short texting sessions. The findings make a strong case for contextualizing reference services to a culturally diverse population.
Ismail, L. (2010). What net generation students really want: Determining library help-seeking preferences of undergraduates. Reference Services Review, 38, 10-27. doi: 10.1108/00907321011020699
Identifying help-seeking behaviors and preferences among net generation undergraduates (ages 18-22) provided the impetus for this study. In a survey released to all students, the net generation respondents noted preferences for research help in convenient locations (e.g., the student center), but did not express preferences for research advice delivered through social media (e.g., Facebook or IM). The findings emphasize the need to avoid assumptions about users when making decisions on technology. Survey included.
Kadir Wan Dollah, W. A. and Singh, D. (2010). Determining the effectiveness of digital reference services in Malaysian academic libraries. The Reference Librarian, 51, 329-354. doi: 10.1080/02763877.2010.501427
The authors analyze the effectiveness of digital reference services based on factors such as users' awareness, usage, and perception of the service. Based on a questionnaire, researchers found that most students were aware of their university's digital reference service, as well as gathered information about how they learned about it and how they access it. This study can provide a method for other reference departments to analyze the use of this particular reference services.
Kargbo, J. A. (2010). Undergraduate students' problems with citing references. The Reference Librarian, 51, 222-236. doi: 10.1080/02763871003769673
Kargbo analyzes undergraduate students’ use of different reference styles at Fourah Bay College. The author conducted a survey of students in the Faculty of Arts asking what style they used most often, who taught them to use the style, and which reference style was used in their departments. The article demonstrates a breakdown in the student and faculty expectations and the role librarians can take to assist students.
Kocevar-Weidinger, E., Benjes-Small, C., Ackermann, E., & Kinman, V. R. (2010). Why and how to mystery shop your reference desk. Reference Services Review, 38, 28-43. doi: 10.1108/00907321011020707
Mystery shoppers evaluated reference staffs at two universities of comparable size. The researchers collected qualitative and quantitative data on behaviors and knowledge exhibited by the librarians as noted on forms completed by the shoppers. The aggregated data from the sites over two semesters showed a decline in favorable shopper ratings, possibly due to new reference staff. The article serves as a detailed guide on mystery shopping for librarians who wish to implement it. Evaluation forms included.
Lee, M., Ritterbush, J., & Sivigny, R. (2010). Reference at the commons: A case study. Reference Services Review, 38, 81-89.doi: 10.1108/00907321011020743
Trends in the volume of reference transactions in the library of a small private college are examined in relation to overall enrollment, library visits, and the location of the reference desk. Statistics recorded over a period covering twelve academic years showed that an increase in in-person reference encounters correlated with high gate counts and the re-location of the reference desk close to the entrance. These results suggest that visibility of a reference service is a factor worthy of consideration.
Luo, L., & Bell, L. (2010). Text 4 answers: A collaborative service model. Reference Services Review, 38, 274-283. doi: 10.1108/00907321011045034
The authors evaluated the cross-library collaborative SMS, My Info Quest, in its first year of service to determine the advantages and challenges as perceived by participating members. Respondents to a survey (not included) identified benefits of the service as longer hours, lower cost, cross-communication with other librarians, and an alternate route to information for their patrons. The major challenges were scheduling, accountability, policy dissemination and compliance, and sustainability. This case study highlights potential issues involved in a consortial virtual reference service.
Martin, P. N., & Park, L. (2010). Reference desk consultation assignment: An exploratory study of students' perceptions of reference service. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 49, 333-340. Retrieved http://www.rusq.org/
This study examined student perceptions of reference consultations to gain a clearer understanding of the students’ attitudes toward reference services. An informal, anonymous survey consisting of open ended questions was distributed to the students who had sought reference assistance as the result of a class requirement. The study found that requiring students to visit the reference desk convinces most students of the value of reference consultations and also produces higher quality student research and writing.
Mestre, L. S. (2010). Librarians working with diverse populations: What impact does cultural competency training have on their efforts. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 36, 479-488. doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2010.08.003
Mestre explores, through surveys and follow-ups, how diversity awareness librarians attained knowledge and expertise in this diversity area. She concludes that most of the job training is on the job, with very little in the way of guidelines, support, or contacts.
Meyer, E., Forbes, C., & Bowers, J. (2010). The research center: Creating an environment for interactive research consultations. Reference Services Review, 38, 57-70. doi: 10.1108/00907321011020725
The authors describe the transformation of a traditional reference service into a research center that provides uninterrupted, in-depth consultations to its users. A section on evaluation methods outlines the indicators used by librarians to document the success of the center. Reference specialists considering a move to a consultative service will find this case study useful as a guide.
Nemeth, E. (2010). Complementary value of databases for discovery of scholarly literature: A user survey of online searching for publications in art history. College & Research Libraries, 71, 223-235.
The author provides results from an international survey of art historians. The purpose of the survey was to assess value of field-specific research databases and specialized metadata. Almost 2000 respondents answered most questions on a sixteen question survey. Though alternative web searching options complement the research process, survey results affirm that users in this discipline value the authoritativeness of peer-reviewed publications and field-specific databases.
Oakleaf, M., & VanScoy, A. (2010). Instructional strategies for digital reference: Methods to facilitate student learning. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 49, 380-390. Retrieved from http://www.rusq.org/
The researchers examined whether librarians are using digital reference services to not only answer questions but to teach students and identified eight instructional strategies librarians can apply in digital reference transactions. The researchers collected 1,474 instant message reference transactions and examined them for the use of instructional strategies. The study found that while a majority of the transactions involved the use of an instruction strategy, the number could be increased through professional development activities. [Note: this paper was presented at the 2009 ALA Annual Conference at the RUSA Research and Statistics (RSS) Committee’s Annual Reference Research Forum.]
Pearce, A., Collard, S., & Whatley, K. (2010). SMS reference: Myths, markers, and modalities. Reference Services Review, 38, 250-263. doi: 10.1108/00907321011045016
With the implementation of a short message service (SMS) for answering reference questions, librarians at New York University used the SMS transcripts to investigate the nature and scope of transactions. A major finding was that their SMS did provide a venue for in-depth transactions. The duration of many interchanges categorized as reference requests lasted hours and involved multiple messages. These findings broaden the potential for using SMS as a reference delivery method.
Shachaf, P. (2010). Social reference: Toward a unifying theory. Library & Information Science Research, 32, 66–76. doi: 10.1016/j.lisr.2009.07.009
Shachaf proposes a framework in which to analyze, evaluate and understand social reference, referring primarily to Q&A sites. She analyzes three interactions, each from a different Q&A service. Transactions are included in the appendix. She also provides an overview of different reference models and how these models can help in the development of a social reference framework. This article provides an analysis of Q&A sites’ similarities and dissimilarities to traditional library reference services.
Smith, D. A., & Oliva, V. T. (2010). Becoming a renaissance reference librarian in academe. Reference Services Review, 38, 125-151. doi: 10.1108/00907321011020770
In an attempt to discover how academic reference librarians who are generalists become knowledgeable about specialized fields, the authors posted a survey to academic library listservs. Respondents, mostly generalists, indicated that they: feel confident in handling specialized reference questions, participate in ongoing education (e.g., reading journals and meeting with faculty), spend many hours at the reference desk, and feel an advanced degree is not necessary. Trainers and managers of reference librarians will find this study informative.
Wang, H., Tan, Y., & Knight, C. (2010). Contemporary development of academic reference librarianship in the United States: A 44-Year content analysis. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 36, 489-494. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2010.08.004
The authors used position announcements from 1966-2009. They reported on such issues as: (1) number of reference position as opposed to other library positions; (2) what educational level is required; (3) what duties and responsibilities were listed as part of the reference position; and (4) the job titles for these positions. All of the results were of interested to anyone involved in the development of requirements for reference librarians.
Wilson, S., & McCarthy, G. (2010). The mobile university: From the library to the campus. Reference Services Review, 38, 214-232. doi: 10.1108/00907321011044990
Librarians in a mid-sized Canadian university surveyed students before and after the development of access to library user services via personal mobile devices. Reference services such as access to research help and texting from the catalogue were rated as desirable in the follow-up survey. The systematic approach used to assess services pre/post development provides a model that could be replicated by librarians considering the adoption of mobile services. Survey not included.
Zink, S. D., Medaille, A., Mundt, M., Colegrove, P. T., & Aldrich, D. (2010). The @One service environment: Information services for and by the millennial generation. Reference Services Review, 38, 108-124. doi: 10.1108/00907321011020761
The authors describe a new model for a help desk created when library services merged with media production, computing, and information technology functions. The combined use of students, mostly from the millennial generation, and information professionals to staff the service provided an opportunity to study interactions in the workplace. Excerpts from interviews give librarians an inside view from twenty staff members on themes such as collaboration, shared learning, and challenges.
Reference Research Review, 2012
Compiled by the RUSA Research and Statistics Committee
An annual bibliography highlighting selected works in the reference literature. Items were selected and annotated by members of the American Library Association, RUSA/RSS Research & Statistics Committee (2012-2013).
Bishop, B. W. (2012). Can consortial reference partners answer your local users' libraryquestions? Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 12(4), 355-370. doi:10.1353/pla.2012.0036
For libraries considering consortial services, this article can provide perspectives on the weaknesses of virtual reference services regarding location-based questions. Using content analysis and unobtrusive testing, the author analyses the ability of librarians to answer location-based questions effectively, especially when the questions are not specific to their location. The implications of this study can effect and inform libraries’ decision to enter into consortial reference services as a way to continue providing virtual reference service in a staffing shortfall.
Bishop, B.W. (2012). Analysis of reference transactions to inform library applications (apps). Library & Information Science Research, 34(4), 265-270. doi:10.1016/j.lisr.2012.06.001
Bishop posits that smartphone apps could be created to assist in answering location-driven questions to supplement in-person assistance as staffing decreases in libraries. He analyzes 129,572 transactions to discover how many and what kinds of questions were located-based. The article includes the definitions used for coding the transactions. He determines that "wayfinding" questions could be answered by apps. App development to assist patrons with common questions is a new area for reference research.
Bonnet, J. L., & McAlexander, B. (2012). Structural diversity in academic libraries: A study of librarian approachability. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 38(5), 277-286. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2012.06.002
The authors studied whether patron perceptions of librarian approachability differed depending on librarian age, gender, or race/ethnicity. Results showed that women were perceived as more approachable than men by all users. They also found that librarians were judged more approachable by people belonging to the same age group. In terms of race/ethnicity, African-Americans tended to rate whites as less approachable than African-Americans; whites showed no significant difference in rating approachability of whites or African-Americans; Asians rated whites and Asians more approachable than African-Americans. Authors emphasized that the results show a need for variability in the staffing of our reference desks.
Del Bosque, D., Leif, S. A., & Skarl, S. (2012). Libraries atwitter: Trends in academic library tweeting. Reference Services Review, 40(2), 199-213. doi:10.1108/00907321211228246
Three researchers used a matrix of 19 categories to examine 296 Twitter accounts of libraries from a random sample of Carnegie degree-granting institutions. They found that 55% of the libraries used Twitter to discuss resources, and the number of tweets since implementation of the feed averaged about 334 with great variance. Private institutional libraries used Twitter more than public institutions. Library accounts tend not to use hash tags and showed little two-way conversation. The findings have implications for reference units seeking data to determine a return of investment in Twitter feeds at academic libraries.
Chow, A. S., & Croxton, R. A. (2012). Information-seeking behavior and reference medium preferences: Differences between faculty, staff, and students. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51(3), 246-262. doi:10.5860/rusq.51n3
By comparing different user groups, the authors were able to tease out statistically significant differences regarding how information is sought as well as reference medium preferences characteristic of different user groups. The survey instrument is included in the article and the authors share their methodology. The survey has implications to the deployment of reference services in a variety of mediums and can be helpful to libraries seeking to expand the reach of services to their patrons.
Dubnjakovic, A. (2012). Electronic resource expenditure and the decline in reference transaction statistics in academic libraries. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 38(2), 94-100. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2012.01.001
The author investigated whether increases in availability of electronic resources and gateway counts affected the number of reference transactions in a study of academic libraries, using data from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) with a sample of 3960 academic libraries. Results showed that an increase in gate counts corresponded with an increase in reference transactions. Results also showed that the higher the expenditures on electronic resources in libraries, the higher the number of reference questions in those same libraries. These results contradict theories that because libraries spend so much on electronic resources, they have fewer people in the library asking reference questions.
King, N. (2012). Nice vs. necessary: Reference collections in ARL member libraries. The Reference Librarian, 53(2), 138-155. doi:10.1080/02763877.2011.607415
This article holistically evaluates academic library reference collection management practices. Using an online instrument to collect both qualitative and quantitative data, the author surveyed primarily heads of reference and determined that most academic ARL reference departments are regularly weeding their collection and assessing the use of electronic and print reference materials. These results can help academic ARL reference departments compare their practices against peer institutions.
LeMaistre, T., Embry, R. L., Van Zandt, L. L., & Bailey, D. E. (2012). Role reinvention, structural defense, or resigned surrender: Institutional approaches to technological change and reference librarianship. The Library Quarterly, 82(3), 241-275. doi:10.1086/665932
The authors explored occupational responses of reference librarians to increased technology in libraries. The qualitative study employed grounded theory to analyze interviews with librarians and observations of reference transactions in ten libraries of varied types, revealing rich understanding of occupational change over recent decades. Institutional openness to technological change encourages librarians to “reinvent” their role with the support of paraprofessionals; others experience “adverse role changes.” Suggestions for the future role of librarians are provided.
Luo, L. (2012). Professional preparation for "text a librarian”: What are the requisite competencies? Reference & User Services Quarterly, 52(1), 44-52. doi:10.5860/rusq.52n1.44
This article explores the professional competencies needed for text message reference service delivery. The Delphi study materials are not included in the article. For libraries looking to implement text message reference, the professional competencies can help outline avenues for training. Additionally, for librarians looking to improve text message reference delivery, the identified competencies can provide a starting point for assessment.
Murphy, S. A., & Cerqua, J. (2012). Implementing the customer contact center: An opportunityto create a valid measurement system for assessing and improving a library's telephone services. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 12(3), 299-314. doi:10.1353/pla.2012.0031
This article suggests the use of a contact center to improve reference service and increase patron satisfaction, in particular regarding phone services. Among the tools being used, the Attribute Gage R&R tool is not included in the article but the authors do describe the process of assessment and a detailed overview of the contact center service. For libraries looking to more effectively deploy reference librarians as well as to converge services to a single point, this article provides insight into a possible solution. The data collection services of a contact center are also extremely helpful to continuous improvement and assessment.
Nolen, D. S., Powers, A. C., Zhang, L., Xu, Y., Cannady, R. E., & Li, J. (2012). Moving beyond assumptions: The use of virtual reference data in an academic library. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 12(1), 23-40. doi:10.1353/pla.2012.0006
It is important to analyze patron types in order to continue improving services and to direct outreach efforts. MSU used patron data from their virtual reference services to test assumptions regarding the make-up of their primary user groups. The variety of methodologies being used by other virtual services emphasizes the importance of local data to decision-making. The methodology described can be helpful for other institutions seeking to re-create a similar study, particularly for parsing data. (Data can then be used to test assumptions of patrons as well as to deploy marketing).
Pellegrino, C. (2012). Does telling them to ask for help work?: Investigating library help-seeking behaviors in college undergraduates. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51(3), 272-277. doi:10.5860/rusq
In many one-shot sessions, instructor librarians encourage students to ask librarians. This article seeks to determine whether in-class encouragement to refer to librarians influences student behavior. The survey instrument is included in the article. Although the results come from a small academic library, the implication that professor encouragement increases the likelihood of students referring to librarians can be helpful for librarians seeking to increase student engagement via faculty engagement.
Reinsfelder, T. L. (2012). Citation analysis as a tool to measure the impact of individual research consultations. College & Research Libraries, 73(3), 263-277. Retrieved from http://crl.acrl.org/content/73/3/263.abstract
Reinsfelder's study seeks to measure the degree to which research consultations with a librarian impact undergraduate work. Librarians evaluated the quality of sources used in preliminary papers, met with students, and reviewed the quality of final paper sources. A four-factor rating scale (included in article) was used to evaluate citations, and nonparametric statistical tests compared quality of draft and final paper sources. The article provides some evidence to support the positive impact of individual research consultations.
Rod-Welch, L. J. (2012). Incorporation and visibility of reference and social networking tools on ARL member libraries’ websites. Reference Services Review, 40(1), 138-171. doi:10.1108/00907321211203694
To determine whether members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) incorporate reference and social networking tools on their websites, and, specifically, on the homepage, the investigator analyzed 125 websites representing ARL. From anywhere on the website, Email/Ask-a-Librarian dominated as the most available tool (89%) with access to Suggestions, RSS, Live Chat, Facebook, and Twitter available on about half the sites (58%-46%). Availability from the homepage was always less. These results provide baseline data for future studies on positioning access points to electronic reference tools on the website.
Ruppel, M., & Vecchione, A. (2012). “It’s research made easier!” SMS and chat referenceperceptions. Reference Services Review, 40(3), 423-448. doi:10.1108/00907321211254689
This is a follow-up dual survey study to the research conducted previously by Ruppel and Fagan (2002). The first survey asked students in an elective library research course (fall 2010) to respond to questions on the library’s chat service; the second survey asked students in the same course (spring 2011) to respond to questions on the SMS service. The respondents valued high-quality, quick, convenient, easy-to use, personalized reference service regardless of format and the “robust communication” received in face-to-face reference services. Results imply that point-of-need plays an important role in a student’s decision of whether to use virtual or in-person reference services.
Stagg, A., & Kimmins, L. (2012). Research skills development through collaborative virtual learning environments. Reference Services Review, 40(1), 61-74. doi:10.1108/00907321211203630
The Faculty Librarian at University of Southern Queensland teamed with faculty of the Business and Law program and members from the Learning and Teaching center to create videos referred to as “referencing tutorials” (based on queries often answered by reference librarians) that were embedded into course sites for business distance students. Usage data collected over two years was significant (24,348 visits by 4749 students), and comments elicited from students and faculty indicated they valued the support provided by the tutorials. The research provides both impetus and guidelines for those librarians considering curriculum-centered, virtual reference delivery.
Ward, D., & Phetteplace, E. (2012). Staffing by design: A methodology for staffing reference. Public Services Quarterly, 8(3), 193-207. doi:10.1080/15228959.2011.621856
This study sought to determine if a methodology for in-person and virtual reference desk staffing could be easily and quickly developed using reference management data. Library staff tracked the mode of communication, duration, university affiliation, question type, and “an open-ended description to provide additional information on the nature of the interaction.” Using that information, the researchers analyzed questions by hour and patron affiliation by hour of day. The researchers found that IM reference represented the bulk of reference transactions, however, multiple staffing models were still needed.
Reference Research Review: 2011
An annual bibliography highlighting selected works in the reference literature.
Items selected and annotated by members of the American Library Association, RUSA/RSS Research & Statistics Committee (2011-2012).
Arendt, J., & Graves, S. J. (2011). Virtual question changes: Reference in evolving environments. Reference Services Review, 39(2), 187-205. doi:10.1108/00907321111135448
Librarians at a university extracted transcripts from their synchronous virtual reference (SVR) service from a six-year period for coding and analysis. They found increases in all types of questions submitted virtually, but the rates of change for each type fluctuated dramatically from one year to the next. There was some evidence that the increases in certain question types coincided with system changes (e.g. the adoption of Meebo) and the embedding of widgets (e.g. into the SFX link resolver). The findings have implications for libraries using SVR platforms in terms of service configurations, training, and staffing.
Bickley, R., & Corrall, S. (2011). Student perceptions of staff in the information commons: A survey at the University of Sheffield. Reference Services Review, 39(2), 223-243.
To ascertain how students perceive staff in a technology-rich information commons (IC), all university students received a link to a questionnaire on that topic. Responses from a 1% return rate indicated that most students viewed staff who helped them in the IC favorably, but they could not distinguish between librarians and other staff and did not understand the academic role of librarians. The authors recommend building stronger partnerships with faculty and assuming more prominent presences in online courses – a response that reinforces recommendations from previous research.
Bravender, P., Lyon, C., & Molaro, A. (2011). Should chat reference be staffed by librarians? An assessment of chat reference at an academic library using LibStats. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 16(3), 111-127. doi:10.1080/10875301.2011.595255
The authors examined the benefit to patron services of having chat reference staffed by reference librarians. The authors analyzed the number and difficulty of the questions and determined the cost per chat question based on average librarian salaries and hours of chat service offered. Results showed that it was not cost effective to have reference librarians monitoring the chat reference service. This study can be helpful to libraries examining their staffing models and patron services.
Collard, S., & Whatley, C. (2011). Virtual reference/query log pairs: A window onto user need. Reference Services Review, 39(1), 151-166. doi:10.1108/00907321111108178
The authors took advantage of the OVID system’s capability of providing search histories with virtual help requests via its query logs. By analyzing 90 queries paired with their search transcripts, the authors discovered that 76% of queries related to problems with searches. Another significant finding was that users cross-searching multiple databases persisted longer in trying searches before asking for help. The study provides a more complete picture of online searching behavior and its links to question-asking.
Connaway, L. S., Dickey, T. J., & Radford, M. L. (2011). ''If it is too inconvenient I'm not going after it:'' Convenience as a critical factor in information-seeking behaviors. Library and Information Science Research, 33(3), 179-190. doi:10.1016/j.lisr.2010.12.002
Connaway, Dickey, and Radford look at the importance of convenience in users’ information seeking behavior by exploring data from two different IMLS-funded studies. They re-examine the two surveys, focusing on the how the data describes users’ concept of convenience, ease of access and use, and time as playing a role in finding information. Survey questions are included. Implications for practice include changing the library environment, providing more digital resources and virtual research environments.
Cowdery, J. E., Kindred, J., Michalakis, A., & Suggs, L. S. (2011). Promoting health in a virtual world: Impressions of health communication messages delivered in Second Life. First Monday, 16(9). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/
This study explores impressions of the impact of health messages delivered via the online virtual world of Second Life. Using quantitative analysis and a grounded theory methodology, researchers analyzed survey data and focus group interviews and determined that overall, participants were receptive to receiving health information in a virtual world setting. The study illustrates how virtual worlds can be used to successfully communicate information.
Devine, C., Paladino, E. B., & Davis, J. A. (2011). Chat reference training after one decade: The results of a national survey of academic libraries. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37(3), 197-206.
The purpose of this study was to examine the state of training of library staff for chat reference. A survey was administered to 450 librarians responsible for chat reference services; questions focused on how or whether there was a formal training program for chat reference. Results indicate that a vast range of “training” was being done in academic libraries. The authors’ suggestions for their findings are pertinent to librarians involved with chat reference services.
Fry, A., & Rich, L. (2011). Usability testing for e-resource discovery: How students find and choose e-resources using library web sites. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37(5), 386-401.
The authors explore how students access electronic indexes with the goal of improving their library website’s access to these resources. The authors conducted a usability study with fifteen students. Results show that students use the databases they know, whether or not they are appropriate, and that subject lists of databases are rarely used by students. Any librarian interested in the presentation of article indexes and databases on library websites will benefit from reading this article.
Head, A. J., & Eisenberg, M. B. (2011). How college students use the Web to conduct everyday life research. First Monday, 16(4). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/
Head and Eisenberg investigated the personal information needs of college students and what information sources and practices they use to satisfy these needs. After examining 8,353 responses from a survey of 25 U.S. college campuses, the authors concluded that students use hybrid processes to find information, that they do not use search engines for all kinds of searches, and that they struggle to select relevant results. This study challenges some conventional beliefs about information seeking behavior.
Holman, L. (2011). Millennial students’ mental model of search: Implications for academic librarians and database developers. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37(1), 19-27.
This study focuses on analyzing millennial students’ models of searching for librarians and database developers working with students to help them search most effectively. Methodologies included narrated observation of students doing database searches and concept-mapping by the students participating in the study. Results show that students use very simple searching models, rarely varying their searches from database to database. The results should be useful to reference librarians working with students as they search for research materials.
Ismail, L. (2011). Getting personal: Reaching out to adult learners through a course management system. The Reference Librarian, 52(3), 244-262. doi:10.1080/02763877.2011.556993
This study examines whether adult learners favor library help delivered through a Course Management System (CMS). The authors surveyed students regarding their satisfaction with a CMS-embedded personal librarian service and concluded that adult learners value point-of-need service, but would prefer seeking help via email, not a CMS. The survey instrument is included. A useful study for libraries providing reference through a CMS.
Kim, Y.-M. (2011). Users' perceptions of university library websites: A unifying view. Library & Information Science Research, 33(1), 63-72. doi:10.1016/j.lisr.2010.04.007
Kim developed a questionnaire to provide insight into how faculty and students use university library website resources. He approached the project from three perspectives: the user perspective, the website design perspective, and the library service quality perspective. The questionnaire is included as an appendix. His conclusion includes the need for librarians to enhance active listening skills in order to better understand undergraduate’s information needs, as well as the need to design user-friendly websites.
Luo, L., & Weak, E. (2011). Texting 4 answers: What questions do people ask?. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51(2), 133-142. Retrieved from http://rusa.metapress.com/home/main.mpx
This study seeks to provide empirical evidence about how users use text reference service, especially what kinds of questions they ask, to further the professional understanding of this emerging reference service venue and how to best deliver text reference service via this venue.
Mu, X., Dimitroff, A., Jordan, J., & Burclaff, N. (2011). A survey and empirical study of virtual reference service in academic libraries. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37(2), 120-129.
The authors explore accessibility and user attitudes to virtual reference services (VRS). Part 1 examined how VRS appear on academic library websites; part 2 compared VRS interfaces using interviews. Results indicate that use of VRS might be increased by better placement and sizing of VRS links, and that images with text provide the most accessible links to VRS. Librarians involved with VRS will find this study useful in presenting VRS on their library’s websites.
Passonneau, S., and Coffey, D. (2011). The role of synchronous virtual reference in teaching and learning: A grounded theory analysis of instant messaging transcripts. College & Research Libraries, 72(3), 276-295.
The purpose of the article is to assess the content and service quality of synchronous virtual reference service. Grounded theory is used to develop a schema to assess chat transcripts. Analysis of coding yielded three categories, two of which, “synchronous learning” and “service challenge,” are discussed in the paper. Best practice recommendations for synchronous virtual reference emerge as a result of this analysis.
Radford, M. L., Radford G. P., Connaway, L. S., & DeAngelis, J. A. (2011). On virtual face-work: An ethnography of communication approach to a live chat reference interaction. The Library Quarterly, 81(4), 431-453. doi:10.1086/661654
The purpose of this article is to describe an ethnographic analysis of a virtual reference interaction transcript using the theoretical framework of Erving Goffman’s “face-work.” No instrument was implemented in the qualitative analysis examining the role of each word or phrase in the transcript in order to understand the role of each in the transaction. Results show that participants both create and maintain face throughout the transaction. Relevant to those providing computer-mediated reference services.
Rozaklis, L., & MacDonald, C. M. (2011). A typology of collaborative communication in a digital reference environment. The Reference Librarian, 52(4), 308-319. doi:10.1080/02763877.2011.586907
Reviewing 574 reference transactions from the ipl2’s Ask an ipl2 Librarian service, the authors investigated collaboration in reference transactions involving multiple librarians. To create a typology, researchers coded all instances of collaborative communication and used the constant comparative method for qualitative analysis. From the data, researchers identified four types of collaborative communication: content, service, technology, and community. The coding scheme is not included. This exploratory study provides a closer look at collaboration in transaction-level reference data.
Shah, C. (2011). Measuring effectiveness and user satisfaction in Yahoo! Answers. First Monday, 16(2). Retrieved from http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3092/...
To explore effectiveness and user satisfaction in this social Q&A site, researchers collected more than 3 million questions over a period of two years. Looking at how quickly questions were answered and when and in what rank order a satisfactory answer was received, authors concluded that YA provides an effective platform for posting a question and securing a quick answer. This study provides valuable information on a growing information seeking trend.
Ward, D. (2011). Expanding the reference vocabulary: A methodology for applying Bloom’s taxonomy to increase instruction in the reference interview. Reference Services Review, 39(1), 167-180.
In an analysis of virtual reference chat transcripts from a university library, the investigator assigned 811 questions asked by librarians during the sessions into one of the six levels of Bloom’s original taxonomy of learning. He also coded questions as convergent (closed) or divergent (open). Results showed that the highest percentage of questions matched to Bloom’s “knowledge” category (the lowest level) and the lowest percentage of questions reached Bloom’s highest level of “evaluation.” In both cases, questions tended to be convergent. The discussion places teaching at the reference desk in a new light.
Wray, C. C. (2011). The journey starts here: Finding special education research in subscription databases. The Reference Librarian, 52(3), 231-243. doi:10.1080/02763877.2011.555281
In this article, the authors sought to determine which subject-specific databases offer the most access to core journals in the field multidisciplinary field of special education. Using two checklists (that aren’t included) to systematically identify a list of core journals, the authors found that of four evaluated databases, Academic Search Premier provided the best coverage. Relevant to all reference librarians who provide e-resource recommendations.