The goal of this study is to gather information from library patrons to answer the questions of whether real‐time reference services (instant messaging, IM) are beneficial to patrons and how valuable they are to fulfilling their task needs. The study was designed to elicit information about how patrons were dealing with the rapidly changing technological environment, and how helpful they felt IM reference services were to them.
The investigation uses the technology acceptance model (TAM) as the basic framework and extends it by the variable of perceived relevance (PR) which intends to extend understanding of the adoption of IM services. The sample consisted of three university libraries' patrons on the basis of convenience, and 323 usable responses were obtained.
This research found general support for TAM. Specifically, the findings show that perceived ease of use of IM services is the key factor for the patrons' attitudes about the IM service. Overall, the model explained 58 percent of the variance in behaviour intention. Thus, the results show that the proposed model does satisfactorily explain the adoption of the IM service.
The findings of this research provide some useful insights into a patron's behavioural intention toward adoption of an IM service which will stimulate thought about real‐time reference services that could be offered by other libraries. And it will be valuable for better understanding of factors affecting the determinants of IM acceptance, which allows libraries to devise more effective approaches to improving the patrons' perceptions of a target system and thereby boost subsequent acceptance of the system.
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