MOUSS Research and Statistics Committee

presents the

Eighth Annual Reference Research Forum

A Comparison of Questions Asked in Face-to-Face, Chat, and E-mail Reference Interactions by Charlotte Ford, Reference Librarian, Birmingham-Southern College Library,
Many libraries are experiencing an increase in the number of computer-mediated reference interactions and a simultaneous decline in the number of in-person reference interactions. In this changing environment, it is crucial for us to understand how these types of interactions differ from each other. A key part of this involves understanding the types of questions that library users are asking online as compared to the types of questions they ask in face-to-face encounters. I will discuss the results of an analysis of reference questions asked via each medium in over 300 reference interactions that took place in a single library in 2001. The results of chi-square tests done to check for significance of selected differences across media will also be presented and the implications of these differences discussed.

Search and Rescue: Repair Strategies of Remote Users Searching the Online Catalog by Nancy Turner, Electronic Resources Librarian, Syracuse University Library, and Susan Beck, Head, Reference and Research Services, New Mexico State University Library, susabeck@lib.NMSU.Edu
Transactions logs from this library’s online catalog indicate that half of the searches are conducted beyond the boundaries of the physical reference desk areas. Without direct assistance from library staff, how do users search the catalog? When presented with results sets of zero or several thousand hits, how do they repair their search queries? Analyzing transaction logs allows us to virtually “peek” at search behavior and use the results to inform and improve our own reference and instruction techniques.


What are Undergraduates Thinking? Implications for the Reference Interview by Ethelene Whitmire, Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison,
How do undergraduates handle ill-structured questions when completing a term paper assignment? Interviews with fifteen undergraduates revealed that students at various stages of intellectual development exhibited different information seeking behavior patterns when searching for information in general, on the Web, and using the library’s online public access catalog (OPAC). Implications of these findings for reference and information services are discussed.

Sunday, June 16, 2002 f 1:30 - 3:30 pm
Georgia World Congress Center Room A403

Call for Proposals