MOUSS Research & Statistics Committee


Items selected and annotated by members of the American Library Association, RUSA/MOUSS Research & Statistics Committee (2000-2001): Marie L. Radford, Chair (Pratt Inst.), Nancy W. Colburn (Indiana Univ.), Rochelle M. Logan (Douglas Public, CO), Michael Lorenzen (Michigan St. Univ.) Eric C. Novotny (Pennsylvania St. Univ.), Marcia J. Rodney (Qwest Communication), Matthew Saxton (Univ. of Washington) Judith F. Trump (Georgetown Univ.), Jeanie M. Welch (Univ. of N. Carolina-Charlotte).

Baker, Lynda M. & Field, Judith J. (Jan./Feb. 2000). "Reference Success: What Has Changed Over the Past Ten Years?" Public Libraries 39(1), 23-30.
Follow-up study of 1989 Durrance's "Reference Success" and Dewdney and Ross' "Flying a Light Aircraft" research, which examines the environmental factors of reference departments and the behavioral characteristics of reference staff members and changes in the past 10 years. Results suggest that librarians should pay attention to the atmosphere created in the library, include a chair at the reference desk, wear a nametag, and have good lighting and signage.

Dilevko, Juris & Mason, Moya. (March/April 2000). "Why You Should Read the Papers: Improving Reference Service in Public Libraries." Public Libraries 39(2), 85-97.
Examines the value of staying current by reading newspapers and magazines. Researchers chose 11 news stories and telephoned large public libraries to ask a reference question based on each. Found that reference librarians have a higher rate of success answering current topics questions if they read the newspaper. Recommendations are made for management and front line staff.

Garnsey, Beth A. & Powell, Ronald R. (Spring 2000). "Electronic Mail Reference Services in the Public Library." Reference & User Services Quarterly 39(3), 245-254.
Libraries and users were surveyed regarding the amount and type of questions submitted electronically. Modest use of most services was uncovered, with a median of 5.6 questions per week. The largest category of questions submitted was ready reference (30%), followed by research questions (25%) and genealogy (18%). Users appeared satisfied with e-mail services and all indicated they would use the service again. Both surveys are included.

Gray, Suzanne M. (Summer 2000). "Virtual Reference Services: Directions and Agendas." Reference & User Services Quarterly 39(4), 365-375.
The websites of 10 large research libraries were analyzed to discover how they are currently providing virtual reference. Found that online forms are used in a variety of ways. In addition, a number of different systems for determination of user base and acceptable questions, as well as formulation of response times was reported. Placement of links on Web pages affects the amount of traffic. Calls for effective marketing of services and notes that volume of questions is increasing and, at some institutions, reaching critical mass.

Landry, Marie B. (Winter 2000). "The Effects of Life Satisfaction and Job Satisfaction on Reference Librarians and Their Work." Reference & User Services Quarterly 40(2), 166-178.
Found a moderate positive relationship between job satisfaction and life satisfaction and a moderate negative relationship between the desire to find a similar job in another library and life satisfaction. Discusses practical implications for practitioners and LIS educators.

Lilly, Erica B. & Van Fleet, Connie. (Winter 2000). "Measuring the Accessibility of Public Library Home Pages. Reference & User Services Quarterly 40(2), 156-165.
100 public libraries were surveyed to see if their Web sites were accessible by people with disabilities. 74 of the libraries had Web sites and 14 of which were judged to be accessible. Libraries with larger populations were more likely to have accessible Web sites. Resources and guidelines for accessible Web page creation and evaluation are discussed.

Romanos de Tiratel, Susana. (Sept. 2000). "Accessing Information Use by Humanists and Social Scientists: a Study at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 26(5), 346-354.
Reports on a 3 year study using qualitative and quantitative methods to determine preferences and information-seeking behavior of humanities and social sciences scholars in Argentina. No major differences were found between the Argentine researchers and those in Anglo-Saxon countries. Suggests that user/use studies in countries with advanced information systems and services could be applied to developing countries such as Argentina.

Ross, Catherine Sheldrick & Nilsen, Kirsti. (Winter 2000). "Has the Internet Changed Anything in Reference? The Library Visit Study, Phase 2." Reference & User Services Quarterly 40(2), 147-155.
161 MLIS student accounts of public and academic reference queries were analyzed. 69% were reported to be successful vs. 60% in Phase 1 (early 1990s). Problems were the same as Phase 1: no reference interview, unmonitored referral, and no follow-up questions. New focus centered on electronic (including Web) resources. Found that reference staff see the Web as a resource for independent use, but not as a reference tool that they have a responsibility to help users search and evaluate.

Stacy-Bates, Kristine K. (Fall 2000). "Ready-Reference Resources and E-Mail Reference on Academic ARL Websites." Reference & User Services Quarterly 40(1), 61-73.
Examines ready-reference and e-mail reference pages provided by ARL members and describes how they organize, name, and provide links to their reference sites. Policies such as response time and intended audience are described. Suggestions for effective reference web page design are made.

Stover, Mark. (2000). "Reference Librarians and the Internet: A Qualitative Study." Reference Services Review 28(1), 39-46.
Reports survey results from 41 librarians on using the Web for reference services and as a communication tool, usefulness of the Web for reference, and perceptions of users' understanding of the Web. Illustrates librarians' views and use of print and electronic sources. Findings indicate that the Web has been a positive communication tool, a means of reference and research, and a means of contact with other professionals but also that it is overwhelming. Results also suggest that librarians do not want to be tied to any one system, and are pessimistic about users' critical thinking skills.

Tenopir, Carol & Read, Eleanor J. (Fall 2000). "Database Use Patterns in Public Libraries." Reference & User Services Quarterly 40(1), 39-52.
Study recorded usage data from online databases available in 98 public libraries. Similar patterns of use were shown, including common highs and lows, peak use times (11am-5pm), busiest days (Mondays & Saturdays), and busiest month (November). Simultaneous access by multiple users is also analyzed. The authors also surveyed the libraries to ascertain the service environment. Only the total number of workstations was found to significantly correlate to an increase in database usage.

Tenopir, Carol & Read, Eleanor J. (May 2000). "Patterns of Database Use in Academic Libraries." College & Research Libraries 61(3), 234-246.
Usage data from a random sample of academic libraries of selected types throughout the US and Canada were examined. Findings indicate that users use commercial online databases the most frequently during midday, early in the week, and at times that correspond to the busy times in the academic calendar.

White, Gary W. (Spring 2000). "Head of Reference Positions in Academic Libraries: A Survey of Job Announcements from 1990-1999." Reference & User Services Quarterly 39(3), 265-272.
The author analyzed the job postings in the library literature seeking a head of reference. A total of 127 ads were analyzed. Characteristics examined include average salary, job title, job responsibilities, tenure requirements and required qualifications.

Womack, Kay & Rupp-Serrano, Karen. (2000). "The Librarian's Apprentice: Reference Graduate Assistants." Reference Services Review 28(2), 119-129.
Discusses a common practice - the use of graduate students as reference assistants. As staffing patterns change, it is helpful to have an understanding of the best way to utilize graduate assistants in providing service. Includes a brief literature review and results of a survey of 36 reference departments. Survey included background information about the institution, library, and reference department and questions about employment of graduate assistants. Questions focused on recruitment, appointment, training, work assignments, supervision, evaluation, and exit interviews. Findings indicate that it is valuable for reference departments to know if their practices in employing graduate students as reference assistants are consistent with other institutions.


Article appearing too late to be included in Reference Research Review: 1999

MacDonald, B. & Dunkelberger, R. (Winter 1998). "Full-Text Database Dependency: An Emerging Trend Among Undergraduate Library Users?" Research Strategies 16(4), 301-307.
289 students were surveyed on their research methods at Bloomsburg Univ. of PA in Spring 1998. Students were found to prefer online sources with full-text access to other forms of periodical research, either always limiting to full-text (32%) or occasionally limiting to full-text (35%). This finding confirms anecdotal evidence in the field and points to the continued need for information literacy education.

American Library Association RUSA/MOUSS Reference & Statistics Committee June 2001