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Ref Type: Journal Article

Authors: Lupien,Pascal, Rourke,Lorna Evelyn

Title: Out of the question! How we are using our students’ virtual reference questions to add a personal touch to a virtual world

Publication Full: Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

Year: 2007 Volume: 2 Issue: 2

Start Page: 67 Other Pages: 80

Descriptors: ELECTRONIC reference services (Libraries), LIBRARIES, STUDENTS, ONLINE information services, LIBRARY employees, LIBRARIANS,


Objective – To investigate the types of questions students ask and the language they use in virtual reference. It is hoped that this examination will provide understanding of students' needs and thus improve/enhance library services. Methods – Over 600 virtual reference transcripts were reviewed, analysed and categorised. This work was focused on three levels of analysis: broad categories based on the general type of question being asked, subcategories based on the specific question and the language that students used to ask their questions. Results – Students are primarily using the library's virtual reference service for higher-level research assistance rather than using the tool to obtain quick answers to simple questions. The two most common types of questions involved staff providing detailed information or instruction on a topic. More specifically, the most frequently occurring type of question was related to finding journal articles on a given topic. Our analysis of the words students use to ask their questions confirmed that students and librarians often do not speak the same language. Conclusion – The results of our analysis of students' needs and language can help us understand our users. This study demonstrated that our library can enhance services in five areas: online services, collections, relationships, staff skills, and the library as place. [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; Lupien, Pascal 1; Email Address: plupien@uoguelph.ca; Rourke, Lorna Evelyn 2; Affiliations: 1: Academic Liaison Librarian, University of Guelph Library, Guelph, Ontario 2: Academic Liaison Librarian, University of Guelph Library Guelph, Ontario, Lecturer, Faculty of Information & Media Studies, University of Western Ontario Source Info: Jul2007, Vol. 2 Issue 2, p67; Thesaurus Term: ELECTRONIC reference services (Libraries); Thesaurus Term: LIBRARIES; Thesaurus Term: STUDENTS; Thesaurus Term: ONLINE information services; Thesaurus Term: LIBRARY employees; Thesaurus Term: LIBRARIANS; Number of Pages: 14p; Illustrations: 3 charts, 1 graph. Document Type: Article


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Retrieved Date:January 1, 1970


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Issn Isbn: 1715720X