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Article

Idunn Bøyum, Katriina Byström and Nils Pharo

The purpose of this study is to investigate why users turn to the university library’s reference desk and whether librarians make use of the opportunity to conduct…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to investigate why users turn to the university library’s reference desk and whether librarians make use of the opportunity to conduct reference interviews to disclose any unexpressed information needs.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents the results from a qualitative exploration study where interactions between librarians and users were observed in authentic situations at the reference desk and analyzed using a modified version of Radford and Connaway’s (2013) categorization of inquiries.

Findings

Most inquiries were seemingly easy to answer and pertained to collections and procedures in the library. Lending out desk supplies accounted for a high proportion of the activity. Only a small number of requests were subject-oriented and reference interview techniques were only used in 5% of the recorded inquiries. This means that the users’ information needs were not probed in the vast majority of the interactions.

Research limitations/implications

The study is exploratory and mirrors the activity that takes place in one specific library. The low number of reference interview techniques used may indicate a lack of interest in users’ information needs, which signifies a risk of the reference desk being reduced to an arena for instrumental and superficial interaction between librarians and users.

Originality/value

This study illustrates current developments in work at a physical library desk. Few recent studies address face-to-face interactions between librarians and users.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 49 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

Keywords

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Article

Idunn Bøyum and Svanhild Aabø

– The purpose of this paper was to investigate how PhD students discover, choose and use information and literature for their research.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper was to investigate how PhD students discover, choose and use information and literature for their research.

Design/methodology/approach

Eight PhD students at the Norwegian Business School (BI) were interviewed. The interviews were based on a phenomenological approach.

Findings

The use of both library databases and Google Scholar is frequent and contextual. The informants ranked the library databases as more useful than Google Scholar. Methods for keeping up to date varied and were contextual. Although formal information seeking in library databases was seen as more academic than the tracking of references, this latter method was more widespread. Students felt they mastered the tools associated with formal information seeking, which constituted a continuous activity in their research practices. Wilson’s (1983) theory on cognitive authority may give a better understanding of the findings.

Practical implications

Acquiring knowledge about the information practices of PhD students in a specific discipline will help libraries to improve their services and acquire relevant resources for their users.

Originality/value

This paper examines PhD students’ ranking of information resources, identifies preferred methods for keeping up to date and reveals in which contexts the informants use either formal or social information-seeking practices.

Details

New Library World, vol. 116 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4803

Keywords

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