25th Annual Reference Research Forum

2019 ALA Annual Conference - Washington, DC

Perceptions of Reference Services at the University of Southern California
Presenters: Melissa Miller, University of Southern California, Melanee Vicedo, University of Southern California and Elizabeth Galoozis, University of Southern California

This study explored the research problem "What are undergraduate and graduate students' habits, attitudes, and needs related to research help?" We conducted four focus groups (purposely recruiting students who do not regularly use library research help) and analyzed transcripts and notes. Questions included "What kind of environment makes you feel comfortable asking for help?" and "What's the first thing you do when you are assigned a research project or paper?" Preliminary findings indicate that students do not perceive connections between their work and lives, and the research help services that our libraries and librarians provide. We also found that students valued faculty opinions and communications above all other forms of recommendations and keeping informed (including social media and peer advice). Our presentation will focus on putting these findings into action. We will discuss making significant changes to a rigid model of subject liaisons and an isolated physical reference desk, and planning and implementing an information campaign aimed at explicitly connecting with student needs. This research will be of value to other institutions reframing their reference services models, on how to use direct user evidence to persuade administrators and colleagues. It builds upon other qualitative and ethnographic studies of student behavior in the context of a large, diffuse institution and library system, both resistant to change. It also makes visible valuable connections among reference, instruction, laision work, public relations and other public services, and the way one institution re-envisioned them.

How May I Teach You?: Rethinking Virtual Reference with the Framework
Presenters: Samantha Kannegiser, Rutgers University-Camden, Julie Hunter, Western Connecticut State University, Jessica Kiebler, Berkley College-White Plains and Dina Meky, Berkley College-Woodbridge

How do librarians provide instruction to students who expect quick answers in chat reference? Information literacy instruction is inherent in face-to-face reference, but with an ever-expanding offering of online programs and virtual services, our library identified an opportunity use the ACRL Framework to evaluate if and how librarians were providing information literacy instruction in chat reference. The findings of this study reaffirmed the importance of balancing customer service and instruction to manage student expectations, and it established best practices and strategies that librarians can employ to provide a well-rounded service. This presentation will review the major themes identified from a literature review, explain the methodology used to assess information literacy instruction in chat reference, review the study's findings, and elaborate on best practices for librarians to balance customer service and instruction.