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Article
Publication date: 10 May 2018

Wilhelm Uutoni

The purpose of this study was to evaluate digital reference services at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and the University of Namibia (UNAM…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to evaluate digital reference services at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and the University of Namibia (UNAM) library. Two aspects were evaluated, namely, “resources” and “elements of the general digital reference model”.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopted a descriptive case study approach and used qualitative research methods, which comprised interviews and an observation checklist. The population consisted of librarians working at NUST and UNAM Library.

Findings

The research findings showed that these libraries used the general digital reference model in providing responses to the library users. The study established that the two libraries did not follow the International Federation of Library Associations and Reference and User Services Association standards of staffing and training of librarians working with digital reference services. The study further found that a lack of ability to fully demonstrate to users how to access various library services was one of the major problems that the librarians experienced.

Research limitations/implications

The study was limited to two academic libraries: UNAM and NUST.

Originality/value

The study could contribute to a better understanding of digital reference services provided by NUST and the UNAM libraries and contribute to the body of knowledge on the subject of digital reference services, especially in an African context, where few studies have been conducted on this subject. The two libraries could use the findings to improve digital reference services, plan for intervention and develop the services.

Details

Information and Learning Science, vol. 119 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-5348

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2004

Lisa A. Ellis

As “teaching libraries,” many academic libraries are committed to teaching not only in classrooms but also at the reference desk. As reference has expanded to include…

Abstract

As “teaching libraries,” many academic libraries are committed to teaching not only in classrooms but also at the reference desk. As reference has expanded to include digital modes of e‐mail and chat, reference librarians are prompted to consider approaches to teaching in these new reference venues in ways that are meaningful to the user. A promising approach to teaching through digital reference is the application of the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards. This paper presents some challenges and benefits of teaching via digital reference. Practical methods for promoting self‐directed learning by examining online instruction, and suggestions for effectively advancing a pedagogy based on the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards, are offered.

Details

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

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2002

Gobinda G. Chowdhury

Reference services have taken a central place in library and information services. They are also regarded as personalised services since in most cases a personal…

Abstract

Reference services have taken a central place in library and information services. They are also regarded as personalised services since in most cases a personal discussion takes place between a user and a reference librarian. Based on this, the librarian points to the sources that are considered to be most appropriate to meet the specific information need(s) of the user. Since the Web and digital libraries are meant for providing direct access to information sources and services without the intervention of human intermediaries, the pertinent question that appears is whether we need reference services in digital libraries, and, if so, how best to offer such services. Current digital libraries focus more on access to, and retrieval of, digital information, and hardly lay emphasis on the service aspects. This may have been caused by the narrower definitions of digital libraries formulated by digital library researchers. This paper looks at the current state of research in personalised information services in digital libraries. It first analyses some representative definitions of digital libraries in order to establish the need for personalised services. It then provides a brief overview of the various online reference and information services currently available on the Web. The paper also briefly reviews digital library research that specifically focuses on the personalisation of digital libraries and the provision of digital reference and information services. Finally, the paper proposes some new areas of research that may be undertaken to improve the provision of personalised information services in digital libraries.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 58 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article
Publication date: 16 May 2008

Krystal M. Lewis and Sandra L. DeGroote

The purpose of this paper is to show how an academic library added access points to its digital reference service outside its traditional library web pages (e.g. online…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to show how an academic library added access points to its digital reference service outside its traditional library web pages (e.g. online catalog, subscription databases). It seeks to determine whether, how, and to what extent these access points were used by patrons.

Design/methodology/approach

Almost 1,200 chat, e‐mail, and instant message digital reference transactions were examined. The data collected included: status of user; format by which questions were submitted (chat, e‐mail, IM); subject area of the question; type of question, and the access point from which the patron submitted the question. The data were analyzed using SPSS statistical software.

Findings

Patrons used the access points in external resources over 25 per cent of the time. They took advantage of the access points as their research needs arose. An increase in the amount of reference transactions received was observed after the addition of the external access points.

Practical implications

This study may be useful in planning, administering, and staffing digital reference services.

Originality/value

This is currently the only comprehensive study that has examined digital reference transactions in multiple formats, the correlation between access point and information need, and the impact of adding access points to digital reference in external resources.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 36 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2004

Gobinda Chowdhury and Simone Margariti

Discusses the current practices followed by some major libraries in Scotland for providing digital reference services (DRS). Refers to the DRSs provided by three academic…

Abstract

Discusses the current practices followed by some major libraries in Scotland for providing digital reference services (DRS). Refers to the DRSs provided by three academic libraries, namely Glasgow University Library, the University of Strathclyde Library, and Glasgow Caledonian University Library, and two other premier libraries in Scotland, the Mitchell Library in Glasgow and the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. Concludes that digital reference services are effective forms of service delivery in Scotland’s academic, national and public libraries, but that their full potential has not yet been exploited. E‐mail is the major technology used in providing digital reference, although plans are under way to use more sophisticated Internet technologies. Notes that the majority of enquiries handled by the libraries are relatively low‐level rather than concerning specific knowledge domains, and training the users to extract information from the best digital resources still remains a challenge.

Details

Library Review, vol. 53 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0024-2535

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2006

Youngok Choi

The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which digital library projects incorporated reference services to increase the value of the collections and support…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which digital library projects incorporated reference services to increase the value of the collections and support the use of information.

Design/methodology/approach

After defining digital library service types, the study surveyed 60 digital collections/projects from the Digital Initiatives Database (DID) and analyzed what types of services have been offered and how they varied.

Findings

Findings showed that digital collections scored high marks in offering services in two areas – search and digital reference; however, the findings also revealed that they have been limited in giving valuable information services in other areas.

Originality/value

The study shows that the current practice of digital initiatives needs to integrate various services not only to help users find information, but also to instruct users to better utilize the library and its other services.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 34 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2003

Alice Kawakami and Pauline Swartz

This article describes the first of a series of assessments examining discrete areas of the service, needed to evaluate a digital reference program. The University of…

Abstract

This article describes the first of a series of assessments examining discrete areas of the service, needed to evaluate a digital reference program. The University of California, Los Angeles, began the first stage of a planned comprehensive evaluation with an assessment of competencies designed to reveal gaps in training that would be the starting point for a revised training program. The objectives of the first assessment were to isolate librarian‐error from user‐error, software‐error and network‐error. This assessment is the first piece of wide‐ranging evaluation that will involve all staff in the process of crafting best practices for digital reference service.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 31 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2001

James A. Stemper and John T. Butler

Developing digital reference services within a large library system requires managing fundamental organizational issues before applying technological strategies. Using the…

Abstract

Developing digital reference services within a large library system requires managing fundamental organizational issues before applying technological strategies. Using the development of library services for distance learners as a catalyst, the University of Minnesota‐Twin Cities Libraries have implemented an organizational model for providing digital reference services to all students, faculty and staff who access the library remotely. The resulting service, InfoPoint, has the dual role of providing reference service and making referrals to over 30 information service units in the library system. Details the planning and implementation process by which the libraries developed this centrally coordinated digital reference service within a historically decentralized environment. Initial conclusions based on the service’s first two years of operation are presented. In conclusion discusses organizational change issues and the value of digital reference services in the digital library.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 29 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2005

Margaret Jay and Sheila Webber

Aims to investigate the impact of the internet on reference services in public libraries in England.

Abstract

Purpose

Aims to investigate the impact of the internet on reference services in public libraries in England.

Design/methodology/approach

A literature review provides the policy context for UK public library services and highlights developments in digital reference. A questionnaire was administered in 2003 to a sample of the public library authorities in England, investigating the use of the internet for receiving or answering reference enquiries, the use of electronic reference sources, and the nature of public library web sites.

Findings

Thirty responses were received, representing a response rate of 60 per cent. All respondents used e‐mail to answer reference enquiries, but there was low use (and in some cases awareness) of other technologies. The librarians' attitude towards digital reference services, considering aspects such as improved access and increased efficiency, was predominantly positive. Some concerns were raised, such as the administration of public access computers. Patrons could access more electronic reference sources within the library than they could remotely. The majority of public libraries had web sites, most commonly offering access to the library catalogue and community databases. The results of this study are compared with two previous surveys.

Practical implications

The paper concludes by identifying the need for public library managers to assess the changing role of professionals and para‐professionals in delivering reference services, and to provide appropriate training. It also notes that despite the discussion of real‐time reference, asynchronous digital reference is still more common in England.

Originality/value

There has not been a survey of this type for English public library authorities. The sample represents 20 per cent of the target population.

Details

Program, vol. 39 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0033-0337

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Abstract

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 22 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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