RUSA RSS Research and Statistics Committee (Reference Services Section) Committee
Our goals for this year are so far unchanged. For 2014-2015, the Research & Statistics Committee will complete the following goals:
1. Solicit and review presentations for the Annual Reference Research Forum to be hosted at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference. The committee will select 3 presentations to be included at the forum during a double-blind process.
2. Review annotations from the previous year and select publications to be included in the 2014 Reference Research Review, which will be distributed online.
Thank you for all your hard work!
Ava Brillat, Chair
Thank you so much for your speedy responses! It looks like most of us should be able to meet virtually on January 15th from 10 am -11:30 EST. I’ll send out an Outlook invitation, if you are using Outlook and would like it on your calendar. If not, please block that time off on your schedules. We’ll be discussing the proposals and selecting the speakers for the ALA Annual Reference Research Forum. We’ll be meeting online, either through Zoom or Join.me and I’ll give you more details as we get closer to the date. Thanks so much!
If you haven’t already, please post the announcement for proposals on your listervs before October 31st. Thank you!
Thank you so much for sending out the first round of announcements last month! Please send out another announcement before October 24th when you have a chance. In my introduction email, I mentioned that we will have a virtual Midwinter meeting and the time has come to schedule it. I have set up a Doodle poll to schedule. Please respond to the poll by next Friday, October 17th . I’ll pull all our availabilities together and send out a formal invitation. We will have received all of our proposals by December 31st and I would like to use our Midwinter virtual meeting to discuss final decisions for who we would like to invite as speakers to the RSS Reference Research Forum. You will have the proposals before then as well as a scoring rubric. I’ll have more information about the whole process as we get closer to the deadline for proposals. Thanks so much for your work so far! You’ve been great!
Here is some basic information on what the committee will be doing this year.
This year, our committee will solicit presentations, select presenters, and host the Annual Reference Research Forum during the ALA Annual in San Francisco, CA.
We will also compile the annual Reference Research Review for 2014, which will compile the previous year's best reference-related research.
Although the committee has communicated primarily via email, there will be a virtual Midwinter meeting in January. So far, all of our committee members have been key in soliciting presentations from various listservs. We've already had a few early submissions! More minutes will be available after our first virtual meeting.
The committee has reviewed and revised the call for proposals. We are currently soliciting proposals from various listservs and we will review the proposals in January.
Thank you so much! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, the Research & Statistics Committee hosted the 20th Annual Reference Research Forum on Sunday, June 29th at the Las Vegas Convention Center. After a double-blind review process, the committee selected 3 research teams to present their results. Ixchel Faniel, Lynn Connaway, and Kendra Parson from OCLC presented “Building Relationships for the Effective Development and Delivery of Research Data Services,” which related the results of in-depth interviews conducted with librarians on the topic of data management. Curt Friehs presented the survey results on the use of technology by college students gathered by himself and his research partner, Jason Kaloudis, in “College Student Tech Usage: A Recent Survey of Trends”. Finally, Jenny Bossaller and Guinevere Lawson presented their survey results of libraries and their involvement with the Affordable Care act, revealing interesting trends in “Libraries and the Affordable Care Act”. 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 Reference Research Review: 2013.
Here is our final copy of the Reference Research Review for 2013! I have also uploaded this bibliography as a word document. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions! Thanks to the committee for working together and producing a beautiful bibliography!
Ava Iuliano Brillat, Chair
Reference Research Review: 2013
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 (2013-2014)
Bonnet, J. L., & McAlexander, B. (2013). First impressions and the reference encounter: The influence of affect and clothing on librarian approachability. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 39(4), 335-346. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2012.11.025
This article focuses on the appearance and behaviors of reference librarians at the desk in order to determine the impact on patrons’ judgment of approachability. The details of the methodology and the analysis are included. By using an image-rating study, the authors focus on attire and nonverbal cues in more detail that previous studies and conclude that behaviors do impact one’s image of approachability.
Bishop, B. W., & Bartlett, J. A. (2013). Where do we go here? Informing academic library staffing through reference transaction analysis. College & Research Libraries, 74(5), 489-500. Retrieved from http://crl.acrl.org/content/74/5/489.full.pdf+html
Bishop and Bartlett use content analysis of reference transactions to analyze the places where questions are asked. Findings provide guidance in optimizing staffing and informing mobile library app development.
Gottfried, J. C. (2013). The plugged-in reference librarian: Who do we think we are? The Reference Librarian, 54(4), 308-319. doi:10.1080/02763877.2013.767766
This study explores whether the increased availability of technology in libraries has increased demand for reference librarians with technological knowledge and proficiency. The author reviewed job postings from 1999 and 2011, randomly selecting 80 from each year and coding them for technology-related variables. Though the study results were mixed, they will interest librarians seeking or hiring for reference positions.
Graber, A., Alexander, S., Bresnahan, M., & Gerke, J. (2013). Evaluating reference data accuracy: A mixed methods study. Reference Services Review, 41(2), 298-312. doi:10.1108/00907321311326237
This article focuses on the data entry behaviors of reference staff related to gathering reference service statistics. The authors utilized a mixed-method approach, ultimately identifying 6 types of data entry behaviors. The survey tool is not included. Reference librarians and administrators will benefit from the discussion of how accuracy of data-gathering is effected by data gathering behaviors, although further study is recommended.
Ishimura, Y. (2013). Information behavior and Japanese students: How can an understanding of the research process lead to better information literacy? Public Services Quarterly, 9(1), 20–33. doi:10.1080/15228959.2013.758977
The author investigated the factors involved in international students’ information behavior to provide insight on how librarians can better serve the diverse populations in colleges. Data collection methods: 1) research portfolios, 2) in-depth interviews, and 3) flowcharts. The major identified factors are 1) assignment guidelines, 2) interaction with domestic students, 3) past learning and personal interests, and 4) time allocation. Librarians can collaborate with professors to design assignment guidelines, and help international students pair with domestic in mentoring relationship during research process.
Kessler, J. (2013). Use it or lose It! Results of a use study of the print sources in an academic library reference collection. The Reference Librarian, 54(1), 61-72. doi:10.1080/02763877.2013.738120
During the Fall 2010 semester, an academic library examined the use of a 26,000 volume print reference collection and found a use rate of 7.1%. Reference books were collected from multiple study areas and collection points and scanned prior to re-shelving. The author’s discussion of data collection methods, comparable studies, and results provides useful information on print reference collection management and calls into question their future.
Li, P. (2013). Effect of distance education on reference and instructional services in academic libraries. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 18(1), 77-96. doi:10.1080/10875301.2013.804018
This article is a literature review that explores how distance education impacts reference services. The author conducts a thorough review of scholarly literation on the connection between distance education and reference. Due to the variety of factors, the author concludes that reference librarians must be continually adaptable in order to meet patrons’ needs. This is an excellent article for reference librarians wishing for an overview of distance learning and reference services.
Luo, L., & Weak, E. (2013). Text reference service: Teens' perception and use. Library & Information Science Research, 35(1), 14-23. doi:10.1016/j.lisr.2012.03.002
In this article, the authors use focus groups to discuss text reference service perceptions with teen library users. In the discussion of the results, the authors provide clear and practical guidelines for proving text reference services to teens, including outreach practices as well as programmatic suggestions. Reference librarians interested in providing text reference service to teenagers will benefit from the insights gathered in the focus groups.
Magi, T. J., & Mardeusz, P. E. (2013). Why some students continue to value individual, face-to-face research consultations in a technology-rich world. College & Research Libraries, 74(6), 605-618. Retrieved from http://crl.acrl.org/content/74/6/605.full.pdf+html
This exploratory investigation provides insight into student views about the content and value of individual research consultations. The qualitative study includes descriptive statistics and content analysis of open-ended survey questions completed by students after participating in a research consultation. Study results support the research consultation as a rich opportunity to deeply engage with research, an important component of the reference service mix.
McClure, H., & Bravender, P. (2013). Regarding reference in an academic library. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 52(4), 302-308. doi:10.5860/rusq.52n4.302
The authors share the results of an analysis of reference statistics to determine the impact of moving from multiple services points to a single service point. The article focuses statistics gathered in LibStats from 7 semesters, during which a variety of reference models were tested. Although the number of directional and ready-reference questions fluctuated depending on the desk model, the authors found that the number of true reference questions remained constant, regardless of model.
Meredith, W. (2013). Web-scale search and virtual reference service: How Summon is impacting reference question complexity and reference service delivery. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 18(1), 1-13. doi:10.1080/10875301.2013.803005
Using the READ scale, the author compares results before and after his library adopted a discovery system. Reference questions received by email were coded and used in a custom-made Access database for analysis. The author found that, although simple location requests had gone down, the implementation of Summon did not change the sophistication of reference questions received. Reference librarians trying to determine the impact of discovery systems on reference services will find this article helpful.
Miles, D. B. (2013). Shall we get rid of the reference desk? Reference & User Services Quarterly, 52(4), 320-333. doi:10.5860/rusq.52n4.320
This article reveals that the majority of academic still use the reference desk model staffed by reference librarians. After analyzing reference stats at his own library, the author conducted a survey of academic libraries to discover what reference models were in use. Survey questions are included and the discussion reveals that the majority of mid-sized academic libraries using the reference desk model did not report a decrease in reference questions. For academic libraries considering changing reference models, this article provides an excellent overview of the factors to consider, as there is no clear answer.
Owens, T. M. (2013). Communication, face saving, and anxiety at an academic library's virtual reference service. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 18(2), 139-168. doi:10.1080/10875301.2013.809043
This article explores communication in archival chat transcripts for evidence of deference and rapport building. By using a combination of tools in previous studies of rapport building, the author analyzes transcripts and provides an in-depth discussion of the nuances of ‘face saving’ or deflection and deference. Ultimately, results showed that rapport building on behalf of librarians increases the comfort level of patrons, who may in turn ask more questions. Reference librarians looking to understand library anxiety in virtual reference service will benefit from the concepts discussed.
Radford, M. L., & Connaway, L. S. (2013). Not dead yet! A longitudinal study of query type and ready reference accuracy in live chat and IM reference. Library & Information Science Research, 35(1), 2-13. doi:10.1016/j.lisr.2012.08.001
By conducting a longitudinal study of chat transcripts, the authors reveal trends in query type and accuracy in live chat reference. Building on their previous analysis of Question Point chat transcripts, Radford and Connaway analyzed a second set of transcripts from a later period and have compared the results of these studies to discover changes. Interesting trends reveal include an increase in ready reference questions as well as an increase in procedural questions while at the same time revealing a decrease in subject-specific reference queries. All libraries considering changes to their virtual reference service will benefit from reading the results of this in-depth study.
Richardson, R., Vance, C., Price, E., & Henry, J. (2013). A mightier pin: Creating a credible reference library on Pinterest at Murray State University. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 18(3-4), 247-264. doi:10.1080/10875301.2013.849319
The authors explore the use of Pinterest to augment reference service in a case study of Murray State University. In this instance, reference librarians pinned open access reference items to Pinterest boards, utilizing the social media site as a reference resource and created a set of guidelines to govern analysis. This case study reveals that it is possible to use social media sites to build reference-related tools. Libraries looking to explore Pinterest will definitely benefit from this article’s discussion and results.
Ryan, M., & Quidachay-Swan, S. (2013). The effect of time of day on reference interactions in academic law libraries. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 52(4), 298-301. doi:10.5860/rusq.52n4
Although specific to law libraries, this article provides an interesting discussion on the influence of time of day on reference transactions. Using observational data gathered at the reference desk, the authors conclude that in-person reference services increased during times when students were not in class. Law librarians considering changes to references services may benefit from reading this case study.
VanScoy, A. (2013). Fully engaged practice and emotional connection: Aspects of the practitioner perspective of reference and information service. Library & Information Science Research, 35(4), 272-278. doi:10.1016/j.lisr.2013.09.001
Using a phenomenological analysis of interviews of reference librarians, this article explores emotional engagement and other aspects of reference and information experiences. Using interpretive phenomenological analysis, the authors reveal that engagement and emotional connection are components of reference practice that are overlooked in current models of service. Reference librarians would benefit from the discussion of the often-overlooked emotional aspects of providing reference service. These aspects of the profession are not easily replaced through automated reference services.
Ms. Ava Marie Brillat (Chair, July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014)
Ms. Ava Marie Brillat (Member, July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015)
Ms. Ava Marie Brillat (Member, July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2014)
Lisa Antonia Campbell (Member, July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015)
Cindy L. Craig (Member, July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2014)
Ryan B. Johnson (Member, July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015)
Sarah L. Naper (Member, July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2014)
Dr. Anita Ondrusek (Member, July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2014)
Ms. Shu Qian (Member, July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015)
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.
Summary of Activities
Over the 2012-2013 year, the Research and Statistics Committee solicited and selected proposals for the 19th Annual Reference Research Forum. This year’s forum included Research Guides Usability Study, by Angela Pashia, Instructional Services Outreach Librarian, University of West Georgia; Two Birds, One Stone: Using a Mixed Methods Approach to Measure Service Process and Identify Usability Pain Points in Virtual Reference, by Christine Tobias, User Experience and Reference Librarian, Michigan State University Libraries; Query Clarification in Chat Reference: A Visual Transcript Analysis, by Alexa Pearce, Librarian for Journalism, Media, Culture & Communication, New York University Libraries.
The Forum was held Saturday, June 29th from 1:00-2:30 at the McCormick Place, the Chicago Convention Center. Approximately 180 people attended the event.
The committee also went through the literature from the past year to select exceptional articles detailing research in reference. The full Reference Research Review is available here: http://connect.ala.org/node/207609.