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Article
Publication date: 13 February 2009

Gang (Gary) Wan, Dennis Clark, John Fullerton, Gail Macmillan, Deva E. Reddy, Jane Stephens and Daniel Xiao

The purpose of this study is to investigate the use of co‐browse in live chat, customers' question types, referral to subject experts, and patrons' usage patterns as…

2184

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to investigate the use of co‐browse in live chat, customers' question types, referral to subject experts, and patrons' usage patterns as experienced in the virtual reference (VR) chat reference services at Texas A&M University Libraries.

Design/methodology/approach

Chat transcripts from 2005 to 2007 were sampled and analyzed by peer reviewers. Statistical data in that period were also examined. A set of methods and a pilot study were created to define the measurement components such as question types, expert handling, and co‐browsing.

Findings

Co‐browsing is used in 38 percent of the sampled chat sessions. The Texas A&M University live chat service group considers co‐browsing a useful feature. Of questions received on VR, 84 percent are reference questions. Only 8.7 percent of the total questions or 10 percent of the reference questions need to be answered by subject experts. The use of VR increases dramatically in the past two years at the Texas A&M University. The findings also reveal users' logon patterns over weekdays and weekends.

Originality/value

The study contributes and advances understanding in the role VR plays in a large academic library and the role co‐browsing plays in VR services. The study also provides a comprehensive method for transcript and usage data analysis. It is believed that a similar methodology may be replicated elsewhere by other institutions engaging similar services or evaluation.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 37 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 August 2012

Margie Ruppel and Amy Vecchione

The purpose of this paper is to discover how college students perceive text messaging reference (SMS), chat reference, and face‐to‐face reference services.

1850

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discover how college students perceive text messaging reference (SMS), chat reference, and face‐to‐face reference services.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors administered surveys about chat, text messaging (SMS), and face‐to‐face reference to students enrolled in a one‐credit library skills course. Survey results focus on users' willingness to return, their perceptions of chat and text messaging (SMS) reference, and the reasons they choose to utilize different communication mediums for reference service.

Findings

College students value the availability of high‐quality, quick, convenient, personalized reference assistance, regardless of medium used.

Practical implications

Academic libraries can personalize reference services, but also need to offer ways for patrons to ask questions anonymously.

Social implications

Robust communication contributes to the perceived usefulness and success of library reference services. Effective reference service provided at the point‐of‐need helps build positive student‐librarian relationships.

Originality/value

This study aims to contribute to reference services research by bringing new technology into consideration. It focuses on two technologies (chat and SMS reference) in light of another available method (in‐person reference desk). This study is based on a 2002 study about patron perceptions of chat reference (Ruppel and Fagan), which is compared to the current study's results.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 40 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 June 2004

Bruce Stoffel and Toni Tucker

In fall 2002, Illinois State University librarians surveyed their e‐mail and chat reference patrons to determine how they feel about the services and how the services…

2700

Abstract

In fall 2002, Illinois State University librarians surveyed their e‐mail and chat reference patrons to determine how they feel about the services and how the services might be improved. The survey also attempted to identify the extent to which the services are used in conjunction with more traditional reference venues. While most electronic reference services utilize brief “pop‐up” forms to survey patrons, Illinois State patrons were invited via e‐mail to complete a more extensive online survey form. Approximately 400 patrons were surveyed, and a response rate of 17 percent was achieved. Results indicate a high level of satisfaction with electronic reference, the desirability of retaining both services despite the more immediate need of chat, and the need to cross‐market reference services. Survey participation suggests that use of e‐mail and online forms to survey electronic reference patrons may be effective in the case of e‐mail reference, but not chat.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 32 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 March 2013

Arthur Hendricks and Sherry Buchanan

Librarians respond to staffing L‐net, Oregon's statewide reference chat service, in different ways. The aim of this paper is to create a survey to look for ways to improve…

1352

Abstract

Purpose

Librarians respond to staffing L‐net, Oregon's statewide reference chat service, in different ways. The aim of this paper is to create a survey to look for ways to improve the statewide service and improve the experience of chat librarians (as well as patrons).

Design/methodology/approach

The authors surveyed L‐net librarians to learn their thoughts and satisfaction with answering L‐net chat questions. They collected anonymous survey data via PSU's web survey software (Qualtrics). The survey instrument was a mixture of qualitative and quantitative questions. The survey consisted of 29 questions.

Findings

While the literature has many articles regarding patron satisfaction with chat reference, there is a dearth of articles regarding librarian satisfaction with chat. It was found that nearly a quarter of librarians said they did not answering chat questions on L‐net. A total of 76 percent indicated they had received written abuse. Swearing was the number one complaint at 28 percent, followed by sexual comments and rude remarks, which tied at 17 percent. One obvious problem seems to be the anonymity of the service and the way chat can serve as an outlet for youth learning boundaries.

Originality/value

While many studies have been done on patron satisfaction, few have studied librarian satisfaction in staffing virtual reference.

Details

Library Hi Tech, vol. 31 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 27 April 2018

Thomas Stieve and Niamh Wallace

To understand chat reference user needs at the University of Arizona Libraries, this study aims to analyze the differences in READ (Reference Effort Assessment Data…

Abstract

Purpose

To understand chat reference user needs at the University of Arizona Libraries, this study aims to analyze the differences in READ (Reference Effort Assessment Data) scores and content from two different chat reference origins: the library website and, course sites within the campus course management system, Desire2Learn.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors have used a mixed methods approach, whereby ordinal regression has been performed on READ scores and grounded theory on chat transcripts in the analysis of themes. This content comparison offers insight into the variations of how and why users ask for help at different chat reference service points.

Findings

The results of the content comparison inform the understanding of the reasons behind library users’ needs and questions at various stages in their academic workflow. The analysis also has implications for future chat reference training, as well as underscores the need for continued integration of library services and resources into online educational technology systems.

Practical implications

The findings support the importance of collocating research/reference support and course content, and underscore the value of library integration with course management systems. The analysis also serves as user-needs assessment data, with the potential to inform library services beyond reference, such as information literacy instruction or collection development.

Originality/value

This study aims to fill a gap in the literature by investigating differences in chat reference transcripts based on chat reference origin.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 46 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 February 2021

Paula R. Dempsey

The purpose of this study is to learn what factors liaison librarians in academic research libraries consider in determining whether to refer chat reference patrons to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to learn what factors liaison librarians in academic research libraries consider in determining whether to refer chat reference patrons to subject specialists.

Design/methodology/approach

Subject specialists were asked what policies guided their decisions to refer to a specialist and then assessed unreferred chat session transcripts both within and outside their specializations to determine need for a referral.

Findings

Few respondents were guided by formal policies. Contrary to an initial hypothesis, subject area was not a key factor in referring chat. A broader set of criteria included reference interviewing, provision of relevant resources and information literacy instruction. Respondents valued both the depth that subject specialists can provide to reference interactions and the ability of a skilled generalist to support information literacy.

Research limitations/implications

Findings are most applicable to large, public doctoral universities with liaison librarian programs. Assignment of respondents to subject specialist categories was complicated by their broad range of background and expertise.

Practical implications

The study contributes new understanding of referrals to subject specialists who have potential to guide development of formal referral policies in academic library virtual reference services.

Originality/value

The study is the first empirical examination of chat reference referral decisions.

Article
Publication date: 30 October 2018

Sandy Hervieux and Nikki Tummon

This study aims to evaluate the instances of information literacy instruction within the virtual reference system of a Canadian university library.

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to evaluate the instances of information literacy instruction within the virtual reference system of a Canadian university library.

Design/methodology/approach

Coding and analysis of a sample of chat transcripts over the course of one academic year have been used.

Findings

The analysis indicated that over 50 per cent of virtual reference interactions do not lend themselves to information literacy instruction. An average of 23.6 per cent of interactions included information literacy instruction and the preferred methods of instruction were modelling and resource sharing.

Originality/value

While previous studies have focused on information literacy instruction provided in a virtual reference setting, this study aims to identify not only instances of information literacy but also to better understand the nature of chat queries by codifying instances of a transactional nature. The results could lead to improved best practices for chat reference, enhanced staff training and varied promotion and delivery of not just virtual reference services but of other library services as well. A portion of this research project, including partial results for the Fall semester, was presented at the LILAC Conference in Liverpool in April 2018.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 46 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 May 2007

Lili Luo

The paper seeks to present the identification of chat reference competencies, with the goal of providing behavioral objectives for professional chat reference performance.

5252

Abstract

Purpose

The paper seeks to present the identification of chat reference competencies, with the goal of providing behavioral objectives for professional chat reference performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The competency identification effort presented in this paper consists of two parts: a thorough review of chat reference literature and interviews with a convenience sample of experienced chat reference librarians to elicit their perceptions of important chat reference competencies.

Findings

Three types of chat reference competencies are identified: core competencies for general reference, competencies for general reference but highlighted in the chat environment, and competencies specific to chat reference service.

Practical implications

The identified competencies can serve as a solid basis for the design of training and education programs for chat reference librarians.

Originality/value

This paper aggregates the discrete chat reference competency studies in the literature and generates a list of competencies requisite for chat reference that could benefit the training and education of chat reference librarians.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 35 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 February 2008

Lili Luo

This paper aims to provide a holistic view of the current practice of chat reference evaluation and to suggest a framework that could help reference practitioners evaluate…

3137

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide a holistic view of the current practice of chat reference evaluation and to suggest a framework that could help reference practitioners evaluate chat reference services in multiple contexts.

Design/methodology/approach

A thorough review of the literature on chat reference evaluation is conducted and the evaluation studies are grouped by their evaluative perspective and measures. Based on the literature review, a framework of perspectives and measures for chat reference evaluation is proposed.

Findings

Chat reference evaluation has incorporated a number of new elements that do not exist in desk reference evaluation. All the evaluation perspectives and measures reported in chat reference literature are incorporated into a final framework except for one variable – “cost‐effectiveness” – which lacks the support of empirical studies in the literature.

Practical implications

The analytical review of the literature provides a holistic view of how chat reference is being measured for its value to both libraries and users, thus furthering the professional understanding of chat reference performance in the library environs. The framework of evaluation perspectives and measures resulting from the literature review is applicable in multiple chat reference contexts and can be customized to serve different evaluation purposes. In turn, this framework gives chat reference evaluators a clear idea of what to look at and how.

Originality/value

This paper fills the need to provide reference practitioners with both a critical view of current chat reference practice, and a tool that could help them design and develop a chat reference evaluation project.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 36 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 14 August 2017

Jiebei Luo

This paper aims to evaluate the performance of a chat reference service implemented at an academic library in a private liberal arts college by gauging its impact on other…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to evaluate the performance of a chat reference service implemented at an academic library in a private liberal arts college by gauging its impact on other forms of reference service in terms of usage volume, with a focus on research-related face-to-face reference questions.

Design/methodology/approach

Two statistical methods are used, namely, the difference-in-differences method and a simple moving average time series analysis, to analyze both the short-term and long-term impact brought by chat reference.

Findings

This study finds that the usage volume of the traditional face-to-face reference is significantly affected by chat reference in its first service year. The long-term analysis suggests that chat reference volume displays a significant declining trend (−2.06 per cent academic month) since its implementation. Yet, its usage volume relative to other reference services remains stable over time.

Originality/value

The findings in this case study will be of value to libraries with similar scale and institutional features that are also interested in assessing their chat reference service. In addition, this paper is the first to apply the difference-in-differences approach in the field of library science, and the two statistical methods adopted in this case study can be readily adapted and applied to other similar volume-based library assessment projects.

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