Reference Research Review 2004


An Annual Bibliography highlighting selected works in the literature



Items selected and annotated by members of the American Library Association, RUSA/RRS Research & Statistics Committee (2004-2005): Joan Ellen Stein, Chair (Carnegie Mellon Univ.), Mary F. Casserly (Univ. at Albany), Kathryn M. Crowe (Univ. of North Carolina at Greensboro), Melissa Gross (Florida State Univ.), Sarah Jane Hammill (Florida International Univ.), Janelle M. Hedstrom (Univ. of Texas, Austin), Steven Z. Hiller (Univ. of Washington), Rebecca Jackson (Iowa State Univ.), JoAnn Jacoby (Univ. of Illinois), Holly L. McCullough (Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh), Carolyn Radcliff (Kent State Univ.),  John S. Spencer (Gonzaga Univ.)



"The Changing Roles of Academic Reference Librarians Over a Ten-Year Period." Christen Cardina and Donald Wicks. (Winter 2004) Reference & User Services Quarterly   44 (2), 133-42.   Surveyed academic librarians who had been working for at least ten years. Found that the most frequently performed types of job were relatively unchanged since 1991 and included face-to-face reference, print collection development, bibliographic instruction, and attending meetings. Supervision replaced instructional handouts as the fifth most frequent activity. Other job activities, frequency of reference tool use, and job satisfaction are also covered. May be useful to reference managers seeking to understand trends in reference activity and employee attitudes.


"A Class Assignment Requiring Chat-Based Reference." Denise Beaubien Bennett, Pamela S. Cenzer, and Paul Kirk. (Winter 2004) Reference & User Services Quarterly 44 (2), 149-63. A retrospective case study of one library’s experience with an assignment that required 75 students to use the library’s chat service. Presents suggestions for: negotiating with faculty for advance notice and manageable timeframes; setting up reasonable expectations by students; and focusing the chat sessions on resource identification rather than topic negotiation. Recommends librarians be invited to provide general in-class instruction so that chat sessions can focus on individuals’ specific needs.


“Development and Validation of the Multidimensional Library Anxiety Scale.” Doris J. Van Kampen. (January 2004) College & Research Libraries    65 (1), 28-34. A report on the development of a new measure of library anxiety, the Multidimensional Library Anxiety Scale. Designed especially for doctoral students and based the Library Anxiety Scale developed by Sharon Bostick in 1992, this new scale reflects the technological changes that have occurred in the past two decades. Presents detailed information on the methodology used to validate the scale.   Author anticipates that further articles will be published that will analyze the use of this new tool.


“E-mail and Chat Reference : Assessing Patron Satisfaction.” Bruce Stoffel and Toni Tucker. (2004). Reference Services Review 32 (2), 120-140. E-mail and chat reference patrons at Milner Library at Illinois StateUniversity were surveyed to determine satisfaction about these services and how they could be improved.  Response rates from e-mail and chat users were 21% (55 surveys completed) and 10.4% (14 surveys completed), respectively.  The satisfaction rate for e-mails users was higher than for chat users (98.2% vs. 85.7%), although this difference may be due to technical difficulties with chat.  The low response rate makes firm conclusions difficult but the research did provide possibilities for improving service such as better presence on the web site. (Survey instrument included.)







“Factors Influencing Digital Reference Triage: A Think-Aloud Study.” Jeffrey Pomerantz. (July 2004). Library Quarterly 74 (3), 235-264. Investigates the triage function, the assignment of incoming digital reference questions to reference librarians or subject experts, using think-aloud techniques to identify how triage decisions are made. The end goal of this work is to inform the automation of the triage function in digital reference systems. To date, fifty-six factors have been identified that play a role in triage decisions.


“Library Jargon:   Student Recognition of Terms and Concepts Commonly Used by Librarians in the Classroom.” Norman B. Hutcherson. (July 2004) College & Research Libraries    65 (4 ).  349-354.  Almost 300 lower level undergraduates were surveyed to determine their understanding of selected library-related terms.    Commonly used terms, such as “plagiarism,” “reference services,” “research,” and “copyright” were found to have a high level of recognition than library terms such as “fair use,” “reference books,” and “Boolean logic.”  Several suggestions for alleviating problems of communication within the library setting are offered. Although the title refers specifically to the classroom, findings will be useful to anyone at a public services desk.


"Measuring the Completeness of Reference Transactions in Online Chats.” David Ward. (Fall 2004) Reference & User Services Quarterly 44 (1), 46-56. Unobtrusive study using proxies to ask typical, short, subject-based research questions on the University of Illinois chat reference service. A scale for completeness of transaction was developed based on the RUSA “Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Professionals.” 47% of transactions were coded as complete; 32% were mostly complete. Describes implications for staff training, provides advice on using the proxy methodology and identifies needed follow-up studies and research.


"Online Chat Reference." Corey M. Johnson. (Spring 2004) Reference & User Services Quarterly   43 (3), 237-47.   Students and faculty at two institutions were surveyed to determine level of chat reference use. Because only 3% of the respondents had used chat reference, the more interesting results focused on patron preferences for other types of reference service and their predictions for future use of reference services. Preference was for face-to-face services, followed distantly by email, phone, and chat. Predictions for the future focused on email and chat. Results are broken out by patron type and may give reference staff insights into marketing chat reference services. (Survey instrument included.)


"Reference Librarians and Keeping Up-to-Date." Ethel Auster and Donna C. Chan. (Fall 2004) Reference & User Services Quarterly 44 (1), 57-66.   Public library reference librarians were surveyed about their professional development activities during the previous year. Most respondents spent time in formal and informal training activities updating their technological skills. About half updated their communication and interpersonal skills and some also updated their instructional and management skills. Barriers to participation in professional development are identified.


“A University-wide, Library-based Chat Service.” Donnelyn Curtis and Araby Greene.   (2004)     Reference Services Review   32 (3), 220-233.   Study of chat service at the University of Nevada Reno Library which staffs both library chat reference and general information chat for the university.   Transcripts from 826 sessions were studied and classified to better understand and improve services. Session and visitor data were recorded using an Access data input form and Access reports and Excel were used to identify patterns and correlations.  Found that 80% of the traffic came from the university home page and that most questions were about the university rather than the library.  (Sample Access form included.)