Full Record

Ref Type: Dissertation/Thesis

Authors: Ford,Charlotte Elizabeth,

Title: An exploratory study of the differences between face-to-face and computer-mediated reference interactions

Publication Full: NULL

Year: 2003 Volume: NULL Issue: NULL

Start Page: 302 Other Pages: 322

Descriptors: Information Systems, Library science,


This research furthers our understanding of reference service in the networked, digital library by addressing the question: How do face-to face reference interactions differ from computer-mediated reference interactions? A library was identified which offered face-to-face, e-mail, and chat reference service. Twelve librarians were observed as they provided all three types of service, for a period of three weeks. Over 100 face-to-face interactions were tape recorded and transcribed. E-mail and real-time computer interactions from the same time period (over 100 in each medium) were captured and stripped of identifying information. The data were then entered into a QSR database. Content analysis and discourse analysis were used to determine how the types of questions asked by users varied across media; how the types of responses varied across media; and how interactivity varied across media. Observations and brief interviews were also used to document these differences. While library users in face-to-face interactions asked more questions, similarities were found in the types of substantive questions asked across media. Librarians responding face-to-face were more likely to verify understanding, to draw users into interactions, and to instruct users. A wider variety of sources was used, collaborative use of sources was more common, and the number of back-and-forth exchanges was higher in face-to-face interactions. Computer-mediated interactions were more time consuming; fewer words were exchanged, but the exchange was more balanced. Chat reference service was found to hold promise for question negotiation.


id: 179

Links: NULL

Extra Data: Ph.D.


Retrieved Date:January 1, 1970

Editors: NULL

Book Title: NULL

Series Title: NULL

Publisher: School of Library & Information Science, Indiana University

Place Of Publication: United States — Indiana

Issn Isbn: NULL