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Article
Publication date: 21 November 2008

Krista Godfrey

This paper aims to examine the emerging field of reference in virtual worlds and attempts to determine its place among existing reference services. The virtual world of…

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3578

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the emerging field of reference in virtual worlds and attempts to determine its place among existing reference services. The virtual world of Second Life is the focus for these virtual world services. Advantages of virtual world reference are highlighted and drawbacks are discussed.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper examines two existing virtual world reference projects in an attempt to determine both the feasibility of virtual world reference and the level of need for such a service.

Findings

Both virtual world reference projects were successful and appear to indicate there is a need for reference within Second Life.

Research limitations/implications

Virtual worlds and reference within these realms are at the very early stages. There is room for detailed analysis of issues raised within the paper.

Practical implications

The paper outlines the steps of creating a collaborative and institutional virtual world reference service, including training and implications.

Originality/value

This paper examines the emerging field of research and practice in virtual worlds and will be of significant interest to reference librarians.

Details

Library Hi Tech, vol. 26 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2011

Heidi Steiner

The purpose of this paper is to discuss merging the virtual learning environment of online students with the traditionally face‐to‐face, physical service of research…

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1442

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss merging the virtual learning environment of online students with the traditionally face‐to‐face, physical service of research consultations in the form of virtual research consultations (VRCs).

Design/methodology/approach

A literature review discusses the importance of instruction in virtual reference, how to combat inherit challenges and foster an instructional experience during virtual reference interactions, and the value of research consultations. The case study then examines how the Distance Learning Librarian at Norwich University implemented a VRC service.

Findings

Based on the ease of maintenance, number of appointments made and verbal feedback from students, VRCs are a valuable addition to virtual reference services for online students. They facilitate instruction in reference, foster relationship building, and also prove a considerable tool for outreach.

Practical implications

The case study provides an example of a service that can be implemented at other institutions. The author also discusses alternative technology options.

Originality/value

There is little discussion in the literature of research consultations being incorporated into virtual reference services. With the growing focus in academia on online education and increasing accessibility of tools to foster a rich virtual learning environment, research consultations are a natural next step in virtual reference.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 39 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 13 November 2009

Kate Gronemyer and Anne‐Marie Deitering

The purpose of this paper is to investigate librarians' attitudes towards instruction in virtual reference transactions and to review relevant literature.

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1986

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate librarians' attitudes towards instruction in virtual reference transactions and to review relevant literature.

Design/methodology/approach

Librarians who provide virtual reference services are surveyed about attitudes towards providing instruction via virtual reference software. In addition to gathering demographic information respondents are asked to rate agreement or disagreement with statements about virtual references using a six‐point Likert scale.

Findings

The librarians surveyed see value in providing instruction during the virtual reference encounter, but also identify concerns and barriers. Discussion of Marchionini's concept of exploratory search and Madell and Muncer's study on control in computer mediated communication is used to highlight some characteristics of the virtual reference environment that might require unique pedagogy and reference practices.

Research limitations/implications

Most respondents are from academic libraries, potentially limiting its applicability to public or special library settings and the survey does not explore the attitudes of librarians who do not currently provide virtual reference.

Practical implications

Findings will be useful for institutional or consortial virtual reference training as well as improving individual practice. Findings may also have policy and/or staffing implications for virtual reference programs.

Originality/value

There is limited literature that focuses specifically on either information literacy instruction during the virtual reference transaction or on librarians' attitudes towards providing instruction in the virtual reference transaction.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 37 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2006

Kirsti Nilsen

The purpose of this paper is to compare user perspectives on visits to in‐person and virtual reference services conducted by participants in the Library Visit Study, an…

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3511

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare user perspectives on visits to in‐person and virtual reference services conducted by participants in the Library Visit Study, an ongoing research project.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper compares satisfaction rates, identifies staff behaviours that influence user satisfaction, and suggests how both face‐to‐face and virtual reference can be improved. Since 1990, participants in the Library Visit Study have been MLIS students who ask questions at in‐person and virtual reference desks, and report on their experiences. In addition to these accounts, students complete questionnaires on their experiences. Level of satisfaction with the in‐person or virtual transactions, based on the “willingness to return” criterion, are computed. Satisfaction is compared with other factors such as correctness of answers and friendliness of library staff. Underlying problems that influence satisfaction are identified. Findings – Data from 261 in‐person and 85 virtual reference transaction accounts (both e‐mail and chat) show that virtual reference results in lower satisfaction than in‐person reference. Underlying problems that are associated with user dissatisfaction were identified in face‐to‐face reference and carry over to virtual reference, including lack of reference interviews, unmonitored referrals and failure to follow‐up. Research limitations/implications – The number of virtual reference visits is relatively small (85) compared with 261 in‐person visits. Practical implications – The reasons for ongoing failures are examined and solutions that can help improve both face‐to‐face and virtual reference are identified. Education and training of reference staff can be improved by recognition of the behavioural causes of dissatisfaction in users. Originality/value – This paper provides empirical data that compare user perceptions of in‐person and virtual reference.

Details

New Library World, vol. 107 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4803

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Article
Publication date: 26 July 2021

Sandy Hervieux

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of the pandemic on the questions received via chat reference at a Canadian university library.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of the pandemic on the questions received via chat reference at a Canadian university library.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative analysis using coding of chat transcripts and a quantitative analysis of the length of chat interactions were used in this study.

Findings

The author determined that the types of questions received changed slightly during the pandemic due to the new library services offered. The complexity level of questions did not change significantly nor did the presence of instruction. The length of individual chat interactions and the total amount of time spent on chat increased, most likely due to the extended hours of the service and the number of patron questions present in one interaction.

Originality/value

This is the first study to investigate the potential impact of the pandemic on virtual reference services at a university library. The findings could lead to practical implications for libraries who need to close their in-person reference desk or need to respond to building closures.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 49 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 10 February 2012

María Pinto and Ramón A. Manso

This paper aims to analyse the common features of the virtual reference services provided by European and American libraries in order to evaluate the service from the…

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2963

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to analyse the common features of the virtual reference services provided by European and American libraries in order to evaluate the service from the user's perspective, taking into account the potential of Web 2.0 applications.

Design/methodology/approach

This research adopts a quantitative approach, to contribute to better understanding of the problems currently facing virtual reference services and offers solutions to them. The study also combines qualitative methodologies.

Findings

The study reports that virtual reference services in university communities have not changed significantly since they first appeared, and highlights the need to incorporate new technologies.

Originality/value

The paper draws attention to certain features of virtual reference services that are undervalued or have not attracted research interest, and calls for a technological shift in the services provided to users from the academic communities involved in this study.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 30 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Article
Publication date: 2 June 2021

Maureen Garvey

This case study was conducted to assess and make changes to the consortial virtual reference service for the remainder of the period of fully virtual reference (campus…

Abstract

Purpose

This case study was conducted to assess and make changes to the consortial virtual reference service for the remainder of the period of fully virtual reference (campus closure); a second objective was to consider implications for service design and delivery upon the eventual return to the physical campus.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper begins by introducing the institution, reference practices prior to the pandemic and the changes to reference service necessitated by the campus closure. After a literature review of material related to reference and the pandemic, several years of virtual reference service data are analyzed.

Findings

The use of consortial virtual reference service has significantly increased in the pandemic, as demonstrated by questions asked by users and questions answered by librarians. Changes to work practices based on these data have been made.

Originality/value

This work is original in that it relates to the physical closure of the campus due to the pandemic, about which, to date, little has been published specifically concerning the design and delivery of reference services.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 49 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2002

Lesley M. Moyo

Discusses how technological developments in libraries have led to the emergence of new service paradigms. Reference services are receiving prime attention as librarians…

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2157

Abstract

Discusses how technological developments in libraries have led to the emergence of new service paradigms. Reference services are receiving prime attention as librarians strategically position themselves to serve users who are entering the library both through the physical gateway and the electronic gateway. Recent trends in electronic libraries, with particular reference to academic libraries, point to the need to provide value‐added library services to support virtual communities in their access to, and use of the exploding body of electronic sources. Also discusses the dynamic nature of reference services in the context of rapidly changing technologies and heightened user expectations and explores the issues associated with planning virtual reference services in an academic environment. Outlines the service rationale, software and technology considerations taken by the Pennsylvania State University in planning towards on‐line, real‐time reference services and provides an overview of the planned pilot project. Includes a list of links to Web sites with useful resources as well as links to sites of some projects on virtual reference services.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Book part
Publication date: 21 November 2005

Diane Kresh

A significant amount of experimentation in virtual collection building and public service has been underway for the past few years. The time has now come to stop…

Abstract

A significant amount of experimentation in virtual collection building and public service has been underway for the past few years. The time has now come to stop experimenting and commit instead to building collaborative, scalable and sustainable programs to meet patrons at their point of need. Our failure to do so will mean a relegation of libraries to the back ranks of information gatherers and suppliers. While it is unlikely that libraries will disappear altogether, they will become afterthoughts unless librarians consciously rethink their roles in society and academia becoming less the passive retainer and more the active participant in the creation and maintenance of information and knowledge. The resources and means are available to make librarians viable and necessary contributors to efficient information retrieval. However, do librarians have the will, the imagination and the confidence to do so? This chapter will evaluate the development of virtual reference services and will suggest a road map for where to go next.

Details

Advances in Librarianship
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-12024-629-8

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Article
Publication date: 17 May 2011

Julie Arendt and Stephanie J. Graves

As virtual reference and online discovery tools evolve, so do interactions with patrons. This study aims to describe how synchronous virtual reference transactions changed…

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1774

Abstract

Purpose

As virtual reference and online discovery tools evolve, so do interactions with patrons. This study aims to describe how synchronous virtual reference transactions changed over a six‐year period at a university library.

Design/methodology/approach

Transcripts from October and February from October 2004 to February 2010 were coded for question type, interlibrary loan discussions, and referrals. Subcategories for holding types and referrals were also recorded.

Findings

The number and types of questions changed with the virtual reference platform used, both increasing and decreasing. The number of questions more than doubled from the beginning to the end of the six‐year study period. The number of holdings questions at the end of the study period was six times higher than the number at the beginning. Patterns relating to interlibrary loan discussions and referrals were noted.

Research limitations/implications

The study examined transcripts from one university library. Findings cannot be generalized but provide examples that may be similar in other libraries.

Practical implications

The number and type of online reference questions that a library receives can change dramatically in a short time. Libraries should monitor question transactions, especially after software changes. Libraries also should consider how the placement of chat widgets changes the quantity and nature of questions and train staff appropriately.

Originality/value

This study examines transcripts across a longer time span than previous studies. It is unique in its examination of virtual reference widgets embedded in proprietary databases and link resolvers.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 39 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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