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16th Annual Reference Research Forum

2010 Annual Conference Washington D.C.

Anthropologists in the Library: The ERIAL Project and its Implications for Reference Service
Andrew Asher, Lynda M. Duke, Sue Stroyan, Monica Moore, Suzanne Wilson
Illinois Wesleyan University/ERIAL

The ERIAL Project, a two-year research study funded by a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant through the Illinois State Library, ethnographically examines how undergraduate students at five universities (Illinois Wesleyan University, University of Illinois Springfield, University of Illinois Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, DePaul University ) conduct academic research and utilize library reference services and resources. The project is organized around three core goals: to gain a better understanding of undergraduates’ research processes based on firsthand accounts of how they obtain, evaluate, and manage information for their assignments, to assess the role academic libraries and librarians play in these research processes, and finally, to adjust library resources and services to more effectively address students’ research needs. Using a mixed-methods approach that integrates a variety of anthropological data collection techniques, this study builds a holistic and user-centered portrait of student needs through an in situ examination of what students actually do while completing their research assignments.

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Andrew Asher is the Lead Research Anthropologist for the ERIAL Project. Asher holds a PhD in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Illinois and has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Poland, Germany, and the United States.

Lynda Duke is Associate Professor and Academic Outreach Librarian at Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University and served as the Principal Investigator for the IWU ERIAL Project. Duke holds master’s degrees in library and information science from the University of Illinois and urban planning from the University of Michigan.

Monica Moore is Visiting Electronic Resources Librarian at Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University. Moore holds a master's degree in library and information science from Syracuse University.

Sue Stroyan is Information Services Librarian at Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University. Stroyan holds a PhD in library science from the University of Illinois and has been a leader in library association work for the past thirty years.

Suzanne Wilson is the Library Technology & Resources Director at Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University. Wilson holds a bachelor degree in business administration – information systems from the University of Toledo.


Do LibGuides Make a Difference? A Quasi-Experimental Investigation Into the Impact of LibGuides
Steven Bell (Temple University)

Multiple articles about library subject guides have examined how users respond to the design of the guides, how effective the users think the guides are and other aspects such as user familiarity with guides. But the literature contains no articles that attempt to connect the use of library guides to academic performance. This presentation reports on the use of a quasi-experimental research study designed to determine if LibGuides actually did make a difference in the quality of a student research assignment. Conducted over a full academic calendar, experimental groups were directed to a LibGuide prepared for their specific assignment. Control groups completing the same assignment were neither directed to nor told about the same LibGuide. A rubric integrated into the Blackboard Outcomes Assessment Module was used to evaluate annotated bibliographies prepared by both group. In addition students in both the control and experimental groups completed a survey about their research process in completing the assignment. The presenter will provide an overview of the methodology, the use of the Blackboard Outcomes Assessment module and the findings of the experimental study.



Steven J. Bell is Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services at Temple University. Previously he was Director of the Library at Philadelphia University and Assistant Director at Penn's Wharton School Library, where he also earned his Ed.D. He writes and speaks about academic librarianship, learning technologies and library management. An Adjunct Professor at Drexel University's College of Information Science and Technology, he teaches the academic librarianship course. His website and blog, “Steven Bell’s Keeping Up Web Site” and “The Kept-Up Academic Librarian” promote current awareness skills and resources. Steven is a co-founder of the Blended Librarian’s Online Learning Community on the Learning Times Network.. He blogs for ACRLog, ACRL’s official Weblog, and Designing Better Libraries, a blog about design thinking and library user experiences. His weekly column on higher education and academic librarianship, “From the Bell Tower”, appears in Library Journal’s Academic Newswire. He is co-author of the book “Academic Librarianship by Design”. For additional information about Steven J. Bell or links to his projects, point your browser to


Minding the Gap: Generational Differences in Attitudes toward Reference Service in Academic Libraries
Eric Jennings, Hans Kishel, Jill Markgraf (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)

Reference services in academic libraries are undergoing substantial change as a result of technological developments, limited human and financial resources, and significant observed and anticipated library staff retirements. With an impending shift in generational balance in the library workforce come changes in attitudes, expectations, and priorities that may have profound effects on librarianship. This research study focuses on the generational differences in attitudes toward reference service to reveal potential conflicts, changes, and trends in attitudes and philosophies. The findings will be valuable to those working in, managing or planning library reference services as the profession undergoes a major generational shift in its workforce.


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Eric Jennings is an Assistant Professor, Reference and Instruction Librarian at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire’s McIntyre Library. He is editor of the “On my Mind” column in College & Undergraduate Libraries and has published and presented in the areas of academic library outreach and programming. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s School of Library and Information Science and is a member of the Millennial Generation.

Hans Kishel is an Assistant Professor, Reference and Instruction Librarian at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire’s McIntyre Library. He holds an M.L.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and an M.S. in Geology from Univ. of North Dakota. Currently he is researching active learning and military history both of which he is using to design games. He is a member of Generation X.

Jill Markgraf is Associate Professor and Interim Head of Reference and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire’s McIntyre Library. She has worked in academic libraries for more than 20 years and has published and presented in the areas of distance education, library instruction and work/life issues. She holds an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Library and Information Studies and is a member of the Baby Boom Generation.