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Thriving on Theory: A New Model for Synchronous Reference Encounters . Marie L. Radford, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Rutgers, The State University of NJ Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist, OCLC. ASIS&T 2009 Annual Meeting November 6-11, 2009 Vancouver, BC .

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thriving on theory a new model for synchronous reference encounters

Thriving on Theory: A New Model for SynchronousReference Encounters

Marie L. Radford, Ph.D.

Associate Professor,

Rutgers, The State University of NJ

Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist, OCLC

ASIS&T 2009 Annual Meeting

November 6-11, 2009

Vancouver, BC

need for integrated theoretical model
Need for Integrated Theoretical Model
  • “In time, perhaps an overarching model of all reference, regardless of medium of delivery, will be developed.” (Pomerantz, 2005)
  • Today will present new model grounded in Communication & Sociology Theory
relational theory approach to interpersonal communication
Relational Theory & Approach to Interpersonal Communication
  • Every message has dual dimensions – both content & relational.

(Watzlawick, Beavin, & Jackson, 1967)

dual dimensions
Relational

“HOW” message is to be taken

Relationship of participants

Dual Dimensions

Content

  • The “WHAT” of the message
  • Information exchange
interaction ritual essays on face to face behavior
Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior

Essay:

“On Face-Work: An analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction”(1967)

Erving Goffman

1922-1982

model grounded in research
Model Grounded in Research

Identify what is critically important to users & librarians in successful reference interactions

  • FtF Environment
    • Reference Encounter (Radford, 1999)
  • Virtual Reference, Live Chat Environment
    • Seeking Synchronicity (Radford & Connaway, 2005 - 2008)
the reference encounter ftf radford 1999
The Reference Encounter – FtF(Radford, 1999)
  • “Interpersonal relationships & communication of great importance in librarian & user perceptions.”
  • Librarians value content more.
  • Users value relational aspects more.
seeking synchronicity vr
Seeking Synchronicity – VR
  • Librarians AND users value BOTH information (content) & relational aspects
  • Greater portion of users value content in VR than in FtF
  • Librarians sensitive to user’s attitude in unsuccessful VR encounters (as found in FtF)
findings from interpersonal communication analysis
Findings from Interpersonal Communication Analysis
  • Relational & Content Facilitators
    • Interpersonal aspects of FtF or chat conversationthat have a positive impact on librarian-client interaction & that enhancecommunication.
  • Relational & Content Barriers
    • Interpersonal aspects of FtF or chat conversation that have a negativeimpact on librarian-client interaction & that impedecommunication.
facilitators positive relational content dimensions
Relational (Interpersonal)

Positive Attitude

Positive Relationship Quality

Approachability

Positive Impact of Technology

Familiarity

Greeting Ritual

Closing Ritual

Content (Information)

Providing Information Access

Accurate Information

Specific Information

Demonstrating Knowledge (General/Specialized)

Appropriate Instruction

Convenient/Timely Access

Facilitators - Positive Relational & Content Dimensions
barriers negative relational content dimensions
Relational

Negative Attitude

Negative Relational Quality

Lack of Approachability

Negative Impact of Technology

Lack of Greeting Ritual

Lack of Closing Ritual

Content

Lack of Info./Access

Lack of Accuracy

Negative Impact of Technology

Lack of Knowledge (General/Specialized)

Lack of Appropriate Instruction

Unrealistic Task

Barriers - Negative Relational & Content Dimensions
encounter context participant characteristics
Encounter Context – Participant Characteristics

Librarian & User

  • age & gender
  • cultural background
  • educational level
  • technological skills (including keyboarding)
  • subject knowledge
  • language & communication skills
  • institutional affiliation
  • user’s past experience with libraries/librarians
  • librarian’s reference service philosophy
encounter context situation
Encounter Context – Situation
  • Reference queries are related to different situations including
    • professional
    • academic
    • personal
    • other
encounter context mode of communication
Encounter Context – Mode of Communication
  • Synchronous reference modes
    • FtF, traditional reference
    • VR (live chat) encounters
implications
Implications
  • Information & relationship development critical to successful interactions
  • Sustainability dependant upon developing & maintaining positive relationships with VR & FtF users
  • For LIS education
    • Content & technical skills vitally important
    • Increase emphasis on interpersonal communication
    • Emphasize user’s point of view
future research
Future Research
  • More testing of Theoretical Model
    • Does it hold up in other modes (IM)?
    • Non-synchronous modes (email)?
    • Quasi-synchronous modes (SMS text messaging?)
  • Next will investigate Instant Messaging (IM) reference environment – growing steadily
    • IM believed to be congruent with model, closely related to live chat
special thanks
Special Thanks
  • Rutgers University & OCLC Seeking Synchronicity Grant Project Team
  • Jocelyn DeAngelis Williams
  • Susanna Sabolsci-Boros
  • Timothy J. Dickey
  • Patrick Confer
  • Mary Anne Reilly
  • Julie Strange
  • Lisa Rose-Wiles
  • Andrea Simzak
  • Jannica Heinstrom
  • Those helping with the graphic design of the model
  • Nathan Graham (Rutgers), Mor Naaman (Rutgers), & Gary P. Radford (Fairleigh Dickinson University)
end notes
End Notes
  • This is one of the outcomes from the project

Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services from User, Non-User, and Librarian Perspectives

  • Funded by IMLS, Rutgers University, & OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.
  • Slides available at project web site: http://www.oclc.org/research/projects/synchronicity/