MOUSS Research & Statistics Committee

REFERENCE RESEARCH REVIEW: 2001
An Annual Bibliography highlighting selected works in the literature.

Items selected and annotated by members of the American Library Association, RUSA/MOUSS Research & Statistics Committee (2001-2002):
Eric Novotny, Chair (Pennsylvania State Univ.), Mary F. Casserly (Univ. at Albany), Nancy W. Colborn (Indiana University South Bend), Kathryn M. Crowe (Univ. of North Carolina at Greensboro), Melissa R. Gross (Florida State Univ.), Rebecca Jackson (Iowa State Univ.), Rochelle Logan (Douglas Public Library District), Matthew L. Saxton (Univ. of Washington), Joan Ellen Stein (Carnegie-Mellon Univ.), and Jeanie Welch (Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte).

Bishop, Kay & Anthony Salveggi. "Responding to Developmental Stages in Reference Service to Children." Public Libraries, 40(6), Nov/Dec 2001: 354-8.
Five librarians in a children's department were observed for nineteen two-hour intervals followed by interviews with the librarians. The authors intermingle a review of the library and psychology literature with findings from their observations and interviews. By understanding childhood developmental stages, librarians may begin to address the complexity of providing quality service to children.

Branch, Jennifer L. "Junior High Students and Think Alouds: Generating Information-Seeking Process Data Using Concurrent Verbal Protocols." Library and Information Science Research, 23(2), 2001: 107-122.
Twelve participants were asked to think aloud while working through a set of researcher-generated, teacher-generated, and self-generated questions. Useful as a description of the verbal protocol methodology.

Cottrell, Janet R., and Michael B. Eisenberg. "Applying an Information Problem-solving Model to Academic Reference Work: Findings and Implications." College & Research Libraries 62(4), July 2001: 334-347.
The authors apply the Eisenberg-Berkowitz Information Problems-Solving model to the reference process. The results showed a high proportion of questions about location and access of sources, and a regular pattern of system problems that block the information-seeking process. Implications of these trends for the reference process and directions for future research are discussed

Gross, Melissa & Matthew L. Saxton. "Who Wants to Know? Imposed Queries in the Public Library." Public Libraries, 40(3), May/June 2001: 170-5.
A survey of library users found that 25 percent of patrons responding came to the library to ask a reference question for someone else (spouse, child, employer, instructor). These imposed queries were isolated and analyzed by agent user characteristics including formal education, frequency of library use, frequency of reference desk use, and who asked them to find the information

Harris, Roma, et al. "Searching for Help and Information: Abused Women Speak Out." Library and Information Science Research, 23(2), 2001: 123-141.
Describes findings from interviews with 105 abused women. Discusses how and where these women sought help. Only one respondent explicitly mentioned the library. Urges local libraries to take on a higher profile, work with local service agencies, and learn more about barriers to information for abused women.

Jenkins, Sandra. "Undergraduate Perceptions of the Reference Collection and the Reference Librarian in an Academic Library." The Reference Librarian 73, 2001: 229-241.
Student library users were surveyed about reference services and resources. 51.7% of respondents indicated that the librarian's function was to direct patrons to resources only. Most students queried answered that reference materials lead the user to the answer, and that they are non-circulating because they need to always be available. 64.1% of students who had never asked a librarian for help claimed to not need assistance. The findings suggest that students have only a basic understanding of reference materials and the function of the reference librarian. The survey instrument is included.

Powell, Carol A. And Pamela S. Bradigan. "E-Mail Reference Services: Characteristics and Effects on Overall Reference Services at an Academic Health Sciences Library." Reference & User Services Quarterly, 41(2), Winter 2001: 170-178.
Analyzed the e-mail queries submitted to the Ohio State University Health Sciences Library from 1995-2000. Discusses the volume of questions submitted, types of questions received, and patron status. The impact on reference and public services is described with suggestions for integrating e-mail reference into the broader array of service offerings.

Westbrook, Lynn. "Faculty Relevance Criteria: Internalized User Needs." Library Trends, 50 (2), Fall 2001: pp. 197-206.
Describes an in-depth study of the relevancy criteria that a sampling of five faculty members in a university Women's Studies department reported to be of importance. Each faculty member was interviewed, and their reactions to different information sources selected by the author were recorded. Findings showed that the needs of faculty doing interdisciplinary research often go beyond the more traditional relevancy criteria such as topicality and currency to include meaningful elements like interdisciplinarity and theoretical perspective.

White, Marilyn Domas. "Diffusion of an Innovation: Digital Reference Service in Carnegie Foundation Master's (Comprehensive) Academic Institution Libraries." Journal of Academic Librarianship, 27(3), May 2001: 173-187.
Applies diffusion of innovation theory to the development of DRS (Digital Reference Service) using data from library Web sites and U.S. National Center for Educational Statistics. Only 45% of the 140 libraries in the random sample offered DRS. Variables that distinguished adopters from non-adopters included enrollment, computer innovations, demand for service and staffing capacity. Author discusses differences in services offered, DRS names, and means of access, and notes absence of reference interview opportunities and privacy issues.

Wilkinson, Mary Ann. "Information Sources Used by Lawyers in Problem-Solving: an Empirical Exploration." Library and Information Science Research, 23(3), 2001: 257-276.
Provides data obtained from interviews with over 150 practicing lawyers. Lawyers overwhelmingly consulted informal sources (colleagues, friends, family) before turning to formal information resources. Over half the problems encountered were non-legal (i.e. problems involving administration of their practices). Size of the firm was significant, with those at smaller firms more likely to utilize resources outside the organization. A new model of information seeking behavior of lawyers is proposed.

Winston, Mark & Kimberly Lione Paone. "Reference and Information Services for Young Adults: A Research Study of Public Libraries in New Jersey." Reference & User Services Quarterly, 41(1), Fall 2001: 45-55.
Reports on the results of a questionnaire sent to all New Jersey public libraries regarding their services to young adults. Fewer than half the responding libraries designate a staff member as having primary responsibility for this age group. Less than a third of respondents indicated that they offered homework help. The authors believe that many libraries could improve their young adult services by making them a higher priority.

Young, Nancy J. & Marilyn Von Seggern. "General Information Seeking in Changing Times: A Focus Group Study." Reference & User Services Quarterly, 41(2), Winter 2001: 159- 169.
Describes a series of focus groups of students and faculty. Participants were asked to discuss how they looked for information regardless of whether the search involved the library. The Internet was the most frequently mentioned resource. Libraries, online databases, bookstores, and people (travel agents, friends, teachers, etc…) were among other sources cited. Convenience and ease of use were a chief criterion in selecting information sources. The focus group questions and script are included.

American Library Association, RUSA/MOUSS Reference & Statistics Committee, June, 2002