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Questions Asked in Face-to-Face, Chat, & E-mail Reference Interactions. Charlotte Ford Ph.D. Candidate ~ Indiana University Librarian ~ Birmingham-Southern College. Research question. How do face-to-face reference interactions differ from computer-mediated reference interactions?

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questions asked in face to face chat e mail reference interactions

Questions Asked in Face-to-Face, Chat, & E-mail Reference Interactions

Charlotte Ford

Ph.D. Candidate ~ Indiana University

Librarian ~ Birmingham-Southern College

research question
Research question

How do face-to-face reference interactions differ from computer-mediated reference interactions?

  • questions
  • responses
  • interactivity
this presentation s focus
This presentation’s focus:

How do the types of questions asked by users vary across media?

research methods
Research Methods
  • Case study in a library offering face-to-face, chat, and e-mail reference service
  • Observation and recording of reference interactions in all 3 media
content analysis of questions
Content analysis of questions

Schemes drawn upon:

  • Lynch (1977): directional, holdings, and substantive questions
  • ARL (2000): directional vs. reference questions
  • Miwa (2000): categories for questions sent to AskERIC
questions scheme
Questions scheme

(1) directional

(2) substantive

(3) other

slide8

Questions scheme

(1) directional

(1.1) needs to find building location

(1.2) needs assistance with circulation procedures

(1.3) needs info on library policies

(1.4) needs administrative assistance

(1.5) needs to use 'office' equipment or supplies

(1.6) needs technical assistance using equipment or software

slide9

Questions scheme

(1) directional

(2) substantive

(2.1) needs to obtain a specific source ("holdings")(2.2) needs to find source(s) on a subject, by a certain author, or of a certain genre(2.3) needs to find fact(s)(2.4) needs evaluation or opinion(2.5) needs interpretation / explanation of source(s)(2.6) needs instruction(2.7) needs info on chat

slide10

Questions scheme

(1) directional

(2) substantive

(3) other

(3.1) spam or nonsense(3.2) reporting an error(3.3) testing system or demoing system(3.4) looking for friend(3.5) requests personal info(3.6) can you answer?(3.7) verification(3.8) suggestion(3.9) question about my project

findings
FINDINGS

How do the types of questions asked by users vary across media?

findings1
Findings
  • No. & types of user info needs expressed
  • Directional, substantive, and “other” questions asked
    • Directional questions asked
    • Substantive questions asked
    • “Other” questions asked
no types of user info needs
No. & types of user info needs
  • Not always posed as questions
  • May be multiple info needs expressed in a single sentence
  • May be one info need expressed over multiple sentences
main points of interest
Main points of interest
  • Preponderance of directional (circulation and policy) questions over e-mail & chat
  • No difference in the proportion of holdings questions, research questions, or requests for evaluation / opinion across media
  • No difference in the proportion of interactions in which some kind of instruction was requested
further research
Further research
  • How do the types of responses given in different media (e-mail, chat, ftf) relate to the types of info needs expressed?
  • How do the questions asked by librarians vary across media?
  • How does this case compare to other libraries?