MOUSS Research & Statistics Committee

Reference Research Review: 1999

Items selected by members of the American Library Association, RUSA/MOUSS Research and Statistics Committee (1999-2000): Marie L. Radford, Chair (Pratt Inst.), Monika J. Antonell (Univ. of N. Texas), Nancy W. Colburn (Indiana Univ.), Michelle M. Jeffries (Wayne St. Univ.), Rochelle M. Logan (Colorado State Library), Michael G. Lorenzen (Michigan St. Univ.), Eric C. Novotny (University of Illinois at Chicago), Diana D. Shonrock, (Iowa St. Univ.), Judith F. Trump (Georgetown Univ.), Jeanie M. Welch (Univ. of N. Carolina-Charlotte).

Chelton, M.K., (Spring 1999). "Structural and theoretical constraints on reference service in a high school library media center." Reference & User Services Quarterly 38(3): 275-82.
School media specialists are pushed to become instructional collaborators with teachers, but does the context of the school day cause a barrier to this collaboration? The school librarian's day and activities are analyzed in this study which found blurred labor categories, a presumption that users can help themselves, and that enforcement activities compete with service.

Connel, T. H., & Tipple, J. E. (Summer 1999). "Testing the accuracy of information on the World Wide Web Using the Alta Vista search engine." Reference & User Services Quarterly 38(4): 360-68.
Examines the accuracy of the WWW for answering general ready-reference questions using Alta Vista. Examines the number of duplicate hits, dead links, times a search was reentered if no hits resulted, and if no answer was found. Questions were based on a 2-week sample of ready-reference questions.

D'Esposito, J. E., & Gardner, R. M. (Nov. 1999). "University students' perceptions of the Internet: An exploratory study." Journal of Academic Librarianship 25(6): 456-61.
14 students participated in focus group sessions regarding perceptions of the Internet as a resource when seeking information for academic assignments. They were most likely to use the Internet in conjunction with the library to complete assignments, but did not associate the Internet with the library nor think of asking librarians for help when researching on the Internet.

Drabenstott, K. M., Simcox, S., and Williams, M. (Summer 1999). "Do librarians understand the subject headings in library catalogs?" Reference & User Services Quarterly 38(4): 369-87.
This first large study of the understanding of LCSH sought to determine the extent to which library users and reference and technical services librarians understood the subdivided subject headings. Findings indicate that librarians do not understand the fine points of LCSH and recommends changes.

Gross, M. (1999) "Imposed Queries in the School Library Media Center: a Descriptive Study." Library and Information Science Research, 21(4): 501-521
Describes a study to replicate investigations into imposed queries (questions asked at someone else's request.) A pilot study collected data on questions asked at a school library media center. The follow-up study added 2 additional sites, and a qualitative interview component. The rate declined from 41% to 32% in the follow-up, with number of imposed queries increasing with grade level. The follow-up study validates the methods used and further research is recommended

Janes, J. & McClure, C. R. (Jan./Feb. 1999). "The Web as a reference tool: Comparisons with traditional sources." Public Libraries 38(1): 30-39.
Public librarians were given a set of 12 ready reference questions to answer with either free Web-based sources or traditional print sources. Results show time spent, accuracy of answers and confidence in authority of resources. Implications for collection development, training, offering Web-based reference services, cost, and budget issues are discussed.

Jaio, Q. G., & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (Apr. 1999). "Identifying library anxiety through students' learning-modality preferences." The Library Quarterly 69(2): 206-16.
Learning-modality preferences were investigated as antecedents to library anxiety. Several dimensions to library anxiety were found including: barriers to staff, emotional barriers, knowledge and comfort levels, and technological barriers.

Kennedy, L., Cole, C., & Carter, S. (Spring 1999). "The false focus in online searching." Reference & User Services Quarterly 38(3): 267-73.
Undergraduates may skip topic definition and elaboration when doing assignments. This phenomenon is often reinforced by information professionals who, in seeking to help users focus their search, may determine the direction of the search based on a variety of characteristics. The idea of "false focus" and ways to assist a user in arriving at needed results are discussed.

Lochstet, G., & Lehman, D. H. (January 1999) "A Correlation Method for Collection Reference Statistics." College & Research Libraries 60(1):45-53.
Two techniques for collecting reference statistics were investigated. One, a sampling technique, involved recording transactions during certain weeks and the other correlated reference statistics with library door counts. It was found that the correlation method was as accurate as the sampling method, but requires more testing before consideration as a viable statistics collection technique.

Pettigrew, K, Durrance, J., & Vakkari, P. (1999). "Approaches to studying public library networked community information initiatives: A review of the literature and overview of a current study." Library and Information Science Research 21(3): 327-60.
Reviews research regarding libraries' role in providing community information. Describes an ongoing project to record and analyze public library involvement in the provision and distribution of such information, and impact of electronic access. Information theories, specifically Dervin's sense-making approach and its application to their study, are discussed.

Quinn, B. (Spring 1999). "A multimodal approach to enhancing memory in reference service." Reference & User Services Quarterly 38(3): 257-66.
The multimodal approach to memory enhancement in reference work is tested that overcomes many inadequacies of traditional methods. Addressing the overall social and psychological contexts in which memory functions facilitated optimal performance.

Rieh, S. Y. (May 1999). "Changing reference service environment: A review of perspectives from managers, librarians, and users." Journal of Academic Librarianship 25(3): 178-86.
Examines the evolution of reference service models and effects of evolving reference services from the perspectives of managers, librarians and users, and redefinition of the reference librarian's role in the changing library environment. Proposes future research on how technology, particularly end-user searching environments, influences librarians' intervention and users' behavior in reference interactions, and implications for alternative reference service models.

Rockman, I. F. (1999). "End-user services in academic libraries: A 1999 perspective." Reference Services Review 27(3): 254-58.
Discusses changes and challenges in end-user library services from the 1980s to 1999. In 1985, a survey of 70 academic libraries identified factors in successfully implementing electronic search services. Results are compared to surveys done in the 1990s. Similarities were found including the need for more computers and new types of front-end software. Changes were found in methods of payment, from pay-per-minute to flat-rate charges; array of electronic formats; and shift of librarians' role to searching teacher rather than searcher.

Tenopir, C. (1999). "Electronic reference and reference librarians: A look through the 1990s." Reference Services Review 27(3): 276-79.
Discusses the impact of electronic search services on reference librarians in the areas of bibliographic and point-of-use instruction. 3 national surveys ('91/'92, '94/'95, and '97/'98) were conducted on electronic services offered by ARL libraries. The '97/'98 study found that librarians spend more time in BI sessions demonstrating search strategies and database selection, and more time in individual point-of-use assistance. Assisting remote-access users is discussed.


1998 articles appearing too late to be included in Reference Research Review: 1998

Ross, C.S., & Dewdney, P. (Winter 1998). "Negative closure: Strategies and counter strategies in the reference transaction." Reference & User Services Quarterly 38(2): 151-63.
Analyzes the experiences of 100 MLIS students who asked a question that mattered to them at a library of their choice. Observations were gathered and analyzed with focus on "negative closure" and ways that reference staff end reference transactions. Suggestions are offered to improve reference service transactions.

Zumalt, J.R., & Pasicznyuk, R.W. (Winter 1998). "The Internet and reference services: A real-world test of Internet utility." Reference & User Services Quarterly 38(2): 165-72.
How useful is the Internet in carrying out the mission of libraries? The Internet's effectiveness in answering reference questions was tested based on depth, accuracy and durability. Little differences were found in accuracy between Internet and traditional sources and sites were found to be durable.

American Library Association RUSA/MOUSS Reference & Statistics Committee July, 2000