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Honoring Accounts In Reference Encounters


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This is the slideshow from a presentation on reference communication by Carol Leibiger and Alan Aldrich at the Mountain Plains Library Association Conference in Wichita, KS, on April 1, 2009.

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Honoring Accounts In Reference Encounters

  1. 1. Honoring Accounts in Reference Encounters Carol A. Leibiger, Associate Professor Alan W. Aldrich, Assistant Professor University Libraries, University of South Dakota
  2. 2. Communication has at least two dimensions. Relational Content dimension dimension
  3. 3. Reference transactions are about content and relationships Here’s the beginning of a typical reference interview… xvUN93pcY
  4. 4. Evaluation of reference: Accuracy vs. customer satisfaction S.S. Green (1876)content and S.S. Green (1876) reference has Reference has content and Reference has content and interpersonal dimensions interpersonal dimensions interpersonal dimensions (Green, 1876) accuracy studies patron satisfaction “55% rule” studies (Crowley, 1968) “willingness to return” (Durrance, 1989) accuracy increased by attention to quality of interpersonal communication with user (Gers & Seward, 1985)
  5. 5. Librarians’ and users’ views of content vs. relational dimensions (Radford, 1993) • Librarians 1. user attitude 2. information and knowledge base (content) 3. relationship quality • Users 1. librarian attitude 2. relationship quality 3. approachability 4. information and knowledge base (content)
  6. 6. What have we learned? • We know how librarians need to behave in a reference interview… –to increase accuracy –and ensure user satisfaction with the interpersonal dimension. • We don’t know why.
  7. 7. What have we learned? Why not? Research on the reference process… • consists of helpful advice and suggestions • rarely goes beyond the exploratory level • lacks a clear theoretical framework -Harris & Michell, 1986, 86-87
  8. 8. Why are we here? • We’re not as polite as we could be in our responses to patrons. • We often miss important information provided by our patrons. • These affect accuracy and relations.
  9. 9. For instance… Q: I am a student at University Center in Sioux Falls and am having difficulty logging into the USD database system. Could you please send me the appropriate information to log in? Thank you for your time. A: To log into the USD databases, you need a USD e-mail name and password.
  10. 10. For instance… Q: I’m trying to get on the I.D. Weeks Library and it is not accepting my user ID and password. Please let me know what I’m supposed to use. I’m also searching for articles on aging and geriatrics…Any tips? This is all new to me! A: You first need to start on the Library’s home page. Then click on Research Databases. Then choose the database you want…
  11. 11. Patrons come to us with different forms of requests. • Simple requests: Do you have the New York Times on microfilm back to the 19th Are you open on century? Also, do you have any Veteran’s Day? other major dailies on microfilm for the same period, e.g. Chicago Tribune, Minneapolis Tribune? Is there a fax machine available for students at the library?
  12. 12. Patrons come to us with different forms of requests. • Stories with straightforward requests: Hello, my name is X, and I am currently a first year law student. I’m working with the Innocence Project of SD and am in need of an interlibrary loan from the SD State Historical Archives. The documents I would like to research are on microfilm, and the Archives webpage says that the loan of these items costs $8.48/reel. I was wondering if that cost is absorbed by I.D. Weeks Library, or if I would have to pay that myself.
  13. 13. Patrons come to us with different forms of requests. • Stories with straightforward requests: I was looking up a research article by using the Wilson Web service. I found the article I was looking for, but I have no idea if it can be found in our library. How can I know by looking at the results? Trends in Biotechnology v. 24 no. 2 (Feb. 2006) p. 62-7. This is the information I received, but it has no other links related to our library.
  14. 14. Patrons come to us with different forms of requests. • Stories with excuses, justifications, or concessions (= accounts): I need to find good reviews for the short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates. I haven’t found anything on it so far, and I have been searching all weekend, and my paper is due tomorrow. All I need is two sources.
  15. 15. Why give an account? • when a negative judgment might be made based something said or done (Scott & Lyman, 1968) • to manage violations of cultural norms
  16. 16. What would be a violation of cultural norms in your library? Academic library Public library School library
  17. 17. An account with an excuse I chose to find out whether or not a The patron demonstrates fetus can actually hear music that is adherence to a norm of self-help being played to them as some before asking in academic people are told. In searching for libraries by showing some information - I have a found a few search results. sources, but I am wondering if you could lead me in a direction of finding a few more. I am not sure if I am not typing in the best words for A potential excuse is offered to the search to have more results account for why the patron has come back, or if my topic is just a not found more results. The topic that will only give back the four-five articles I have found. Any potential is offset by the information you could give me would suggestion that this topic might be greatly appreciated! have only limited information available.
  18. 18. An account with a justification I have been accessing Lexis Nexis from home using remote access. For the past few days it has been allowing me to start a search, it pulls up the search results, but when I click on a document link, I get a screen that says The patron identifies my session may have timed out, and it the problem. directs me back to the main page. So I tried to access Lexis without remote access, but now I can’t figure out what my password and ID are, and it has told me I’ve exceeded my allotted sign in attempts. I wouldn’t The patron justifies normally bother a librarian with this, but asking for help. when I tried the “contact us” button, it referred me to the library. If you could help me you’d be my hero forever.
  19. 19. An account with a concession I’m working on a research paper on Hutterite colonies compared to popular society living. I’m trying to find An excuse is presented. sources in your library. I’m unsure how to go about doing that?? I’ve tried all that I could, and nothing The patron makes a seems to work. I must be concession. doing something wrong. Can you help me?
  20. 20. What does it mean to be polite? • A polite response attends to everything in a request (Clark & Schunk, 1980). Can you tell me the time?
  21. 21. What does it mean to be polite? • Clark & Schunk (1980) : A polite response attends to everything in a request. Yes, I can. It’s 4 PM. Yes. It’s 4 PM.
  22. 22. Polite responses to accounts A polite response to a request associated with an account attends to everything in the request… – The account – The request – Any additional information
  23. 23. Consider the following I am working on a presentation for a Your topic is very interesting, but it’s Multicultural Assessment class in also very focused, which is probably the School Psychology Department. why you’re not finding sources Mostly the presentation is supposed specifically on your subject. You to relate to current status of this might need to look up information students of North African descent in on the demographics and the US and how to better serve and educational issues of students of work with those from this Northern African descent (in population. I have searched several databases like ERIC and Education databases and ERIC, but I am not Research Complete or a social having much luck. Do you have any sciences database like SocIndex), suggestions on where to look or then relate that information to what search terms? you know or can find about assessment.
  24. 24. Consider the following Here are the steps to access I've been trying to log in to your library records. When you My Library Card, and each are in the “My Records” page, time it tells me my username/ enter in your id-card barcode password are invalid. I haven't that is on the back side of the id-card. Enter this number in had this problem before. I am the first box labeled “Library a PhD student in the English Barcode ID.” In the second box department, and I'm trying to labeled “Password,” type in renew my books before your last name using all lowercase letters. Finally, they're due on April 15th. Is select [your library] from the there any reason that I can't list of libraries. This should get into my account? allow you to access your library records.
  25. 25. How would you respond? Good morning. I am Hi, the PsychInfo database will wondering if you have any give you some potential hits if tips on finding information you type the phrase “equine regarding equine therapy for therapy”… troubled teens. I found a few Hi, I’m sorry you haven’t had things within a few of the much luck in your search thus databases, but nothing far. Let me suggest a few ideas substantial. I need to use this for further searching… data in the next week or so and am not having much luck. Hi, here is a tip you might try. Any tips that you have would Go to the PsychInfo database be appreciated! and …
  26. 26. Gers & Seward (1985) • Improved interpersonal relations in the reference encounter • Greater user self-disclosure • Greater accuracy of the information provided (up from 55% to 76%)
  27. 27. Be polite. Attend to Become more all parts of aware of your a request. use of language. Listen for accounts. - Excuses - Justifications - Concessions
  28. 28. Contributors Alan W. Aldrich Carol A. Leibiger Assistant Professor Associate Professor Instructional Services Information Literacy Librarian Coordinator University Libraries University Libraries U. of South Dakota U. of South Dakota 605-677-6614 605-677-6089