Full Record – Author

Ref Type: Journal Article

Authors: Furlan,Wendy,

Title: Virtual racism rears its head: Uncovering librarian bias in e-mail reference services

Publication Full: Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

Year: 2007 Volume: 2 Issue: 2

Start Page: 97 Other Pages: 100

Descriptors: LIBRARIANS, ELECTRONIC reference services (Libraries), ELECTRONIC mail messages, LIBRARIES, UNOBTRUSIVE measures, RELIGIOUS groups, QUERIES (Authorship),


Objective — To examine whether librarians provide equitable virtual reference services to diverse user groups. Design — Unobtrusive method of defined scenarios submitted via e-mail. Setting — Twenty-three Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member libraries from across the United States. All ARL member libraries were invited to participate, with the 23 acceptances providing 19% participation. Subjects — Anonymous librarians from the 23 participating libraries' virtual e-mail reference services. Up to 6 librarians from each library may have been involved. Six fictitious personas were developed to represent particular ethnic or religious groups, whereby the ethnic or religious affiliation was only indicated by the name chosen for each user and the corresponding e-mail address. Names were selected from lists of names or baby names available online: Latoya Johnson (African-American), Rosa Manuz (Hispanic), Chang Su (Asian – Chinese), Mary Anderson (Caucasian/Christian), Ahmed Ibrahim (Muslim), and Moshe Cohen (Caucasian/Jewish). These personas were used to submit reference queries via e-mail to the virtual reference services taking part in the study. Methods — Five different types of reference queries were developed for use in this study. Three were based on prior published research as they were deemed to be answerable by the majority of libraries. They included a dissertation query, a sports team query, and a population query all designed to be tailored to the target institution. The other 2 queries were developed with participating institutions' virtual reference guidelines in mind, and were thought to not be answered by the target institutions when submitted by unaffiliated users. They consisted of a subject query on a special collection topic that asked for copies of relevant articles to be sent out, and an article query requesting that a copy of a specific article be e-mailed to the patron. The study was conducted over a 6 week period beginning the… [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]; Copyright of Evidence Based Library & Information Practice is the property of University of Alberta, Learning Services and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)


M3: Article; Furlan, Wendy 1; Email Address: w.furlan@library.uq.edu.au; Affiliations: 1: Liaison Librarian, University of Queensland Library Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Source Info: Jul2007, Vol. 2 Issue 2, p97; Thesaurus Term: LIBRARIANS; Thesaurus Term: ELECTRONIC reference services (Libraries); Thesaurus Term: ELECTRONIC mail messages; Thesaurus Term: LIBRARIES; Subject Term: UNOBTRUSIVE measures; Subject Term: RELIGIOUS groups; Subject Term: QUERIES (Authorship); Number of Pages: 4p. Document Type: Article

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Retrieved Date:January 1, 1970

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Issn Isbn: 1715720X