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Ref Type: Journal Article

Authors: Duff,Wendy M., Johnson,Catherine A.,

Title: A virtual expression of need: An analysis of e-mail reference questions

Publication Full: The American Archivist

Year: 2001 Volume: 64 Issue: 1

Start Page: 43 Other Pages: 60

Descriptors: REFERENCE services (Libraries), ELECTRONIC mail systems, Information needs, User behavior,


In order to enhance understanding of how users of archives seek information, analyzes e-mail reference questions posed to archivists. Examines 375 e-mail reference questions submitted to provincial, federal, university, city, and special archives with the goal of determining, from the users' own words, how users formulate reference requests to archives. Maintains that understanding which elements the archives' clients uses to describe their information needs enables the creation of more relevant archival descriptive tools. Results show that people use proper names, dates, places, subject, form, and occasionally events when composing their information request. Concludes that as archives move toward a greater presence on the Web, archivists should design electronic information systems that account for the information-seeking patterns expressed in e-mail reference requests.


M3: Article; Duff, Wendy M; Johnson, Catherine A; Source Info: Spring-Summer 2001, Vol. 64 Issue 1, p43; Note: Update Code: 3702; Subject Term: REFERENCE services (Libraries); Subject Term: ELECTRONIC mail systems; Author-Supplied Keyword: Information needs; Author-Supplied Keyword: User behavior; Number of Pages: 18p. Document Type: Article

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Retrieved Date:January 1, 1970

Editors: NULL

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Publisher: NULL

Place Of Publication: NULL

Issn Isbn: 3609081