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Ref Type: Journal Article

Authors: Nilsen,Kirsti, Ross,Catherine Sheldrick,

Title: Evaluating virtual reference from the users' perspective

Publication Full: The Reference Librarian

Year: 2006 Volume: 46 Issue: 95

Start Page: 53 Other Pages: 79

Descriptors: ACADEMIC libraries — Reference services, INTERNET in library reference services, ELECTRONIC discussion groups, WRITTEN communication, INTERNET users, ELECTRONIC reference services (Libraries), INTERPERSONAL communication, COMMUNICATION — Psychological aspects, COMMUNICATION, Face-to-face, Services for, PERFORMANCE standards, evaluation, field research, library user studies, reference interview, Virtual reference,


This article discusses the evaluation of virtual reference services from the user perspective. It is one outcome of a long-term research project, The Library Visit Study, which has been conducted in three phases at the University of Western Ontario for more than a decade. These studies have identified the need for, and essential components of, reference interviews and good reference behaviors. The third phase of this research focuses on the factors that make a difference to the users' satisfaction with their virtual reference experience and whether these are the same or different from the ones we identified as important in face-to-face reference. An examination of user accounts of virtual reference transactions indicates that the reference interview has almost disappeared. Among the reasons identified for staff failure to conduct reference interviews in the virtual environment are: the nature of written vs. spoken interaction; the librarian's perceived need to respond quickly in this environment; and the rudimentary nature of the forms used in e-mail reference. The article includes a list of behaviors that users identified as either helpful or unhelpful and concludes with some implications of the research for good virtual reference service. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]; Copyright of Reference Librarian is the property of Haworth Press 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; Nilsen, Kirsti 1; Email Address: knilsen@uwo.ca; Ross, Catherine Sheldrick 2; Email Address: ross@uwo.ca; Affiliations: 1: Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 5B7, Canada 2: Professor and Dean, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 5B7, Canada Source Info: 2006, Vol. 46 Issue 95/96, p53; Thesaurus Term: ACADEMIC libraries — Reference services; Thesaurus Term: INTERNET in library reference services; Thesaurus Term: ELECTRONIC discussion groups; Thesaurus Term: WRITTEN communication; Thesaurus Term: INTERNET users; Thesaurus Term: ELECTRONIC reference services (Libraries); Subject Term: INTERPERSONAL communication; Subject Term: COMMUNICATION — Psychological aspects; Subject Term: COMMUNICATION, Face-to-face; Subject Term: Services for; Subject Term: PERFORMANCE standards; Author-Supplied Keyword: evaluation; Author-Supplied Keyword: field research; Author-Supplied Keyword: library user studies; Author-Supplied Keyword: reference interview; Author-Supplied Keyword: Virtual reference; Number of Pages: 27p. Document Type: Article

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Retrieved Date:January 1, 1970

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Publisher: Haworth Press

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Issn Isbn: 2763877