MOUSS Research and Statistics Committee

Reference Research Forum
6/27/98 2:00-4:00 pm
Convention Center - Room 15

Presenters and abstracts:
Mary K. Chelton, "Structural and Theoretical Constraints on Reference Service in a High School Library Media Center" Using naturalistic inquiry, this study described reference service activity in a senior high school library media center during March, 1995, based on audio and video recordings of six class periods on a staff-designated "typical" day. Time and activities are seen to be constrained by unique and rigid institutional demands, such as the division of time into discrete class periods, and by the library staff being part of the district-mandated, school wide student location enforcement system. School library media specialists are forced to perform "information and enforcement triage" before anything resembling idealized reference service can take place. How the staff copes with these constraints using an embedded theory of user competence forms the basis of the study.

Barbara J. D'Angelo, "Virtual Classroom, Virtual Library: Library Services for an Online Writing Laboratory" This paper explores the development, organization, launching, and pitfalls of a library using multi-user object oriented (MOO) technology in collaboration with the Online Writing Laboratory (OWL) at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. The MOO library provides links to Internet- and other library-related resources for use by students in community colleges in Arkansas. Using Internet technologies, graduate students at the University of Arkansas provide writing assistance to the community college students. The addition of the library to the MOO educational environment enhances and complements the tutoring services provided by the graduate students. The librarian provides assistance to instructors in the development of specific course-related resources as well as real-time reference service via an online reference desk. The combination of an organized collection of links to resources and the availability of synchronous reference service will test the feasibility of using MOO technology to provide library service to distance education students.

Michael Havener and Marjorie Murfin, "The Impact of the Wisconsin-Ohio Reference Evaluation Program on Reference Service in Eleven Libraries: Did Collecting All That Data Really Make a Difference?" Since 1983, over 230 libraries have used the Wisconsin-Ohio Reference Evaluation Program (WOREP) to evaluate their success in answering reference questions. This presentation provides an overview of fifteen years of cumulative WOREP data, but its focus is upon the eleven libraries that have participated in the WOREP more than once. These repeat libraries were studied in terms of factors that might have contributed to gain or loss in success rates for reference transactions, as rated by the libraries' patrons. Several factors were found to be associated with a decrease in success rates. Those factors included the loss of one or more professional positions, reduction in the proportion of reference desk transactions performed by professional librarians, and increase in the number of hours the reference desk was open for service. Loss or gain was also related to a library's initial success score. Implications of these findings for the administration of reference departments are discussed.