Virtual Reference And Information Behaviors Of Researchers


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  • These components are critically needed for present and future success in libraries
  • Information seeking preferences, communication and behavior patterns of our clientele are rapidly changing. As ongoing budget cuts and the downturn in the economic environment are affecting libraries globally, it is critical for librarians to make informed decisions to sustain and grow responsive services. Budget cuts are impacting staffing (human resources) as well as purchasing of resources (electronic and print). Empirical data identifying users’ needs and preferences is required for librarians to make informed decisions for resource allocations as well as to choose optimal service delivery models.
  • This paper reports results from online surveys and telephone interviews with VRS users and non-users. Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services , funded IMLS and in-kind support from the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), and Rutgers University studied the habits and needs of virtual reference services (VRS) users and non-users to identifying characteristics for informing library system and service development. 4 phases used a multi-method research design to identify how and why individuals seek information, design ensures that results will be generalizable through large random sample sizes, multiple methods of data collection, and triangulation of results. Online surveys 175 VRS librarians 184 VRS non-users 137 VRS users Telephone interviews 100 VRS librarians 107 VRS non-users 76 VRS users
  • User Survey: Demographic: What is your gender? What is your ethnicity? What is the highest level of education that you have completed? Multiple-choice: Have you used chat reference services more than once? Yes No Have you ever used IM (instant messaging) or text messaging for a reference question? Yes No Likert-type: Please rate to what extent you agree with how the following items might discourage you from using chat reference. Please rate the following factors in terms of their impact on why you have not used chat reference services (VRS). Open-ended questions: Please think about one experience using chat reference services in which you felt you achieved a positive result. Please think about one experience in which you felt you did not achieve a positive result from reference services. Please describe the circumstances and nature of your questions. What might convince you to try chat reference services? Why?
  • NOS: Undergrad N=36 Grad N=19 Doctorate N=6 UOS Undergrad N=16 Grad N=21 Doctorate N=7 NTI Undergrad N=34 Grad N=14 Doctorate N=3 UTI Undergrad N=8 Grad N=9 Doctorate N=6
  • NTI N=34 Human resources 94% (n=32) Use the internet 85% (n=29) Finding info themselves 68% (n=23) It's just on the situation; I pretty much go to the internet first, because _everything's_ there already, but if I am unsure about things, then I might ask around, or might ask people. NTI-74 Some College 19-28 Professors are credible in what they are talking about most of the time. NTI-100 Some College 19-28 I do as much as I can online because that's the easiest. … I can get everything that I can get at a library and more online, and I don't have to go anywhere. I guess that's what influences it. NTI-110 Some College 19-28 I found the book I wanted and it was in a library, so I then went into the library and found it myself … If I’m looking for a book I usually I keep to myself and do everything myself. NTI-29 Some College 19-28 First I try to do it myself.. It is just easier, the information is just there. You can access the information quickly and it is also a good starting point to figure out what is out there. Then you can narrow down your search from there. So I always start out using the internet, to get an overview. It is just the first step, and natural. NTI-59 Some College 19-28
  • NTI N=14 Human resources 71% (n=10) Google 57% (n=8) Themselves 57% (n=8) Library website 36% (n=5) Journals 29% (n=4) Databases 21% (n=3) Generally when I need something and I don't know where to get it, I go to the Internet. I search on Google or Yahoo. NTI-80 Some Graduate 19-28 Okay, the, I tend to usually research things myself pretty well, so I don't have to resort to contacting a reference librarian NTI-97 Some Graduate 19-28 The library web page. I had learned through past research that was the best place to start -they have are databases I don’t have access to as an individual. NTI-005 Masters 19-28 Because there are plentiful sources online, some of them are garbage I believe, but they usually give you a hint of where to go. I will try to find info in general and then go to the library catalog or ask a librarian. That’s what I do. NTI-56 Masters 29-35
  • NTI N=3 Physical library 67% (n=2) Depends on need-context-situation 67% (n=2) Well mmm, that’s an interesting question. I do a lot of writing on deadline as a journalist and often if there’s a small fact I need to confirm like someone’s birth year – someone well known – I will probably first turn to the web and Google them, see what comes up ….So I guess just to sum up it depends on nature of the information I need; online might do if it’s a reliable source or multiple reliable sources – if there aren’t I’ll hunt out something peer reviewed in the library either in person or with the help of a librarian… I do my own research or go to the library. I mean yes I’ll ask a librarian for help in getting reliable sources for my work. NTI-36 Doctorate 29-35 Well you know actually today in most of the business I do - in the past - I'm pre computer - I would have gone to the library. … In fairness to everyone, sometimes I've Googled something and find alternatives, but then most often those alternatives take me to the library. I don't have great confidence in the internet- the Wikipedea situation is not something I enjoy NTI-37 Doctorate 65+
  • NTI Q1 Undergraduates N=34 Graduates N=14 Usually have success 79% (n=27) Usually have success 10% (n=10) Feeling comfortable 68% (n=23) Feeling comfortable 64% (n=8) Profiting from knowledge 36% (n=12) Profiting from knowledge 36% (n=5) Doctorate N=3 Usually have success 100% (n=3) Feeling comfortable 100% (n=3) Profiting from knowledge 67% (n=2) It was very helpful, the librarian was resourceful, and I got what I needed. NTI-46 Masters 29-35 I thought they were very friendly and knowledgeable, they always knew the answer to my question so they were really helpful. NTI-49 Some College 19-28 Usually good, I mean whenever I have a question, I can go up to a librarian and get an answer. NTI-68 Some College 19-28 It was good. They were very knowledgeable and I got all the help that I needed. NTI-119 Some College 15-18 I think reference librarians up there with fire fighters as my heroes. NTI-009 Doctoral 36-45 Good – I’ve never gone to a librarian and not gotten some kind of information NTI-036 29-35 I don't believe I've ever had an unpleasant experience with a librarian ... I think I'd remember if I had NTI-037 65+ Yes, very comfortable. They're always very helpful and I've had no problems, so... NTI-066 Some College 19-28
  • NTI Q1 Graduates N=14 Undergraduates N=34 Mode of communication helps 50% (n=7) Mode of communication helps 53% (n=23) Helpful 43% (n=6) Helpful 41% (n=14) Approachable 14% (n=2) Approachable 24% (n=8) Friendly 14% (n=2)Friendly 21% (n=7) She was like easy to approach. It was no problem to walk up to her and talk with her. NTI-119 Some College 15-18 The guy was pretty approachable; he seemed eager to help me, and I felt really comfortable going to him for help regarding finding that thing. NTI-134 Some College 19-28 And he was very friendly too, which was very nice. NTI-11 Some College 19-28 In person they were very helpful and they tried to help me with my situation very quickly and fastly. NTI-59 Some College 19-28 I got all the help that I needed. NTI-119 Some College 15-18 Yes. When you are in somebody’s presence, when you are there, you see their body language, but on the phone you don’t see all that. They my seem rude and rushing you. But there may be a reason why they are doing that, but you just can’t see it. NTI-29 Some College 19-28 I think face to face contact is better, like that you are more comfortable. On phone or by email you might not be as respected. NTI-59 Some College 19-28 Yes. I think because, um, it's mainly face to face that they can tell if I'm kinda confused about something: if I need clarification, if they tell me, "Oh it's on the third floor and you can find it there" I can make a little face, and they can say, "Oh, just take the stairs and go that way," and add clarification. NTI-66 Some College 19-28
  • NTI Q1 Undergraduates N=34 Mode of communication helps 53% (n=23) Getting answer 21% (n=7) Getting a book 21% (n=7) Graduates N=14 Getting answer 24% (n=4) Getting a book 24% (n=4) Because I was ... all the questions that I asked, they found me the answer and like sometimes, they'll just give me a little bit more than you ask for, like, "Oh, you might be interested in this," so it's always a good thing! NTI-34 Some College 19-28 Usually good, I mean whenever I have a question, I can go up to a librarian and get an answer. NTI-68 Some College 19-28 Um, well, I had to look for a book for one of my classes and they didn't have it at that particular library and that time, and so the librarian made sure to check other libraries throughout the [University] network of like, like other campuses, and he was able to email me when they located the book at another location, and so that was very helpful: how they were committed to quality service. NTI-134 Some College 19-28 it was just to find out information on a book, and it was nice and quick. NTI-74 Some College 19-28 That’s usually the main thing that I would rate as successful, if they could answer my question or direct me somewhere. NTI-018 Some Graduate 29-35 Well, they have been really good about finding certain books for me. If I need a book from another school, will help me in getting it. NTI-27 Masters 29-35 I guess helping to find books that aren’t really that easy to find.. all of the detailed information that I need to find them. NTI-84 Masters 19-28
  • Online Survey: Net Gens 49% enjoyed using FtF interaction more than email, telephone, or text messaging FtF 49.18% N=60 Phone 11.48% N=14 Email 27.05% N=33 Text Messaging 12.30% N=15
  • NTI Q1 N=3 Helpful 100% (n=3) Approachable, good demeanor, professional, knowledge, and professional all 67% (n=2) I think reference librarians up there with fire fighters as my heros. i. If I get the information that I’m looking for 1. I almost always feel comfortable interacting with librarians. a. I usually interact with librarians in the law library. Demeanor is usually one of sort of professional helpfulness. Some are more friendly than others. Generally, if I have a question that isn’t sort of run of the mill, they get excited. Usually they are getting law students coming through, and I have slightly different questions. They seem to take a professional interest in the things I’m going to the library for. They seem to really enjoy a challenge. In approachability, they vary. NTI-09 Doctoral 36-45 Good – I’ve never gone to a librarian and not gotten some kind of information – usually face to face I’m looking for a book that isn’t on the shelf – it’s in the online catalog but not physically there so I have to seek help. And that can be frustrating but not necessarily the fault of the librarian and almost always they’re able to find it. I’ve never been spoken to rudely by a librarian which would turn me off. Overall my experience has been very helpful. Over the phone, often in those cases I’ve been looking for specific piece of information … a few weeks ago I called and they were extremely helpful and quick and got the information I wanted – they did some of the same searchers I did but also had access to other information I didn’t have. Overall I’ve had very positive and helpful experiences. … I found part of the success of interactions comes from fact that librarians have it seems an idea of genuinely wanting to help people both face to face and on the phone, willing to spend time wanting to help me out. I’ve never had librarian say I don’t have the time to help with my question which I would consider rude. So a big part of the success is I’ve had the good fortune to speak with people who were very polite and professional and embracing this kind of public service role. NTI-36 Doctoral 29-35 I don't believe I've ever had an unpleasant experience with a librarian ... I think I'd remember if I had …well .. librarians are usually very very helpful. NTI-37 Doctoral 65+
  • NTI Q4 N=34 School work 59% (n=20) Reliable info 15% (n=5) Specifically mention books 15% (n=5) Breadth and depth 12% (n=4) I think because sometimes the internet is not enough, you need actual resources, actual books that the internet cannot provide. The library also has articles, newspapers from many years ago, reference books and so on. Even though the internet is a good a starting point, the library have a more wide option of information sources. NTI-59 Some College 19-28 Just because I know that the library has more information, and probably has things that aren't really on the internet NTI-74 Some College 19-28 after I didn't find 100% of what I wanted, I decided to go to the library NTI-138 Some College 19-28 but just because I am a journalism major, and there's _nothing_ more important that accurate sources, and citing them accurately and regularly, and I err on the side of safety - the library is the best place to go for any kind of source and information. NTI-24 Some College 19-28 It's better to get information that is checked over by someone. Book form is more reliable. NTI-108 Some College 19-28 The internet seemed to have a lot of scam type of information like that, I wanted to go get information that was legitimate, I trusted the library on that. NTI-114 Some College 19-28 One of my first semesters here, last year, we had a class where we actually had to go to the library. NTI-29 Some college 19-28 If I had to get a book, [like if I were] required to use a book as a citation as part of a report but other than that no. NTI-48 Some College 19-28 When in need to do in depth research mostly NTI-52 Some College 19-28
  • NTI Q4 N=14 Good place to start 14% (n=2) Journals, databases, and entertainment each 14% (n=2) When I was writing my finals I had only used online journals and articles NTI-27 Masters 29-35 if I _do not have a clue_ where to start, I will always go to a library. NTI-97 Some Graduate 19-28 For anything academic he library would be my first approach NTI-069 Masters 19-28 I mean more so for enjoyment, I will go into a library, get books, when I was younger and in college, I had to use online resources. Now taking online courses, the need to go into a library is more to go into get a leisure book NTI-18 Some Graduate 29-35 I also go there to get pleasure reading, I borrow videos and so on NTI??? Masters 29-35
  • NTI Q4 N=3 Reliable info 67% (n=2) There is a lot on the internet, but you have to winnow through lots of crap. Websites a librarian can point me to, and books. I can physically go to the library and get a websource, but one that is filtered through the librarian’s intelligence. NTI-09 Doctoral 36-45 Well again I have a fairly deep distrust of most of the stuff that shows up on the internet. A lot of people like Wikipedia but I don’t refer to Wikipedia – I’ll read their articles but then seek confirmation from peer reviewed sources .. but to get those sources I often need to go to library. NTI-36 Doctoral 29-35
  • NTI Q3 Graduates N=14 Doctorate N=3 Undergraduates N=34 Internet 43% (n=6) Internet 67% (n=2) Internet 50% (n=17) Colleagues 21% (n=3) Experts 67% (n=2) Because of personal convenience 44% (n=15) **Timothy, check this. I think Internet for Doctorate is 33%** If I can get most of my work done with just using the internet, or if I just found enough information on the Internet, then I just use that. NTI-59 Some College 19-28 but a lot of times I just feel more comfortable searching the internet NTI-68 Some College 19-28 I would say that my first choice is online databases NTI-124 Some College 19-28 Just using the Internet rather than having to go to the library. NTI-128 Some College 19-28 Just more convenient I can do it from home. NTI-48 Some College 19-28 a library might come up later, if I am not able to find what I want online. NTI-79 Masters 29-35 I guess a good information source that I have found was Google scholar. And occasionally Wikipedia if you are in a hurry. NTI-84 Masters 19-28 I can use my own files, what I find on the internet NTI-09 Doctoral 36-45
  • A lot if it is also my professors… looking at syllabi, talking to fellow students. NTI-27 Masters 29-35 I can contact a member of congress who sponsored the bill, there will be some staffer who has research collected on it. NTI-09 Doctoral 36-45 I haven’t done this yet but plan to get in touch with Borders or Barnes and Noble to see if they know. NTI-36 Doctoral 29-35
  • UTI Q3 Undergraduates N=8 Simple questions 50% (n=4) Cannot find themselves 50% (n=4) Graduates N=9 Quick help 33% (n=3) It’s if I have trouble finding information then I go there. “As soon as I have problems [finding information] that s the first place I would go” UTI-02 Some College 19-28 Just when I can't figure somethng out myself, I guess UTI-31 Some College 19-28 “ When I’m on a strict timeline then it’s my first choice.” UTI-001 Masters 29-35 When I need information very quickly. Or at a strange time of the day. UTI-38 Masters 29-35
  • UTI Q10 Graduates N=9 Doctorate N=6 Undergraduates N=8 Speed/efficiency 67% (n=6) Convenience 33% (n=2) After-hours availability 25% (n=2) Ease of use 56% (n=5) for me it's not a daytime, I wouldn't use it during the day, because I have the actual libraries and stuff within five minutes walk away, but during the night it is perfect if you need something. UTI-31 Some College 19-28 There is always someone there for you. UTI-71 Some College 19-28 I felt like it was really easy to use, quick and efficient, and I got the answers I needed. UTI-78 Some Graduate 19-28 To me it is a great way to get information quick UTI-13 Masters 29-35 Yes. It is the easiest research method out there. UTI-06 Some Graduate 29-35 It is kind of neat and convenient. UTI-30 Doctoral 56-65 I think it would be a quick way to get an answer and a convenient way. UTI-79 65+
  • Content Information The “what” of the message Information exchange Relational Interpersonal “ How” the message is to be taken Relationship between participants
  • NOS N=36 UOS N=14 Positive attitude 25% (n=9) Positive attitude 21% (n=3) Librarian walks user through task 11% (n=4) I was looking for a journal in the library and was totally confused on where they were located as well as how they are categorized. (NOS-53730) I received help right away from a librarian who directed me to the journals and instructed me on how to look them up on my own for next time. (NOS-53730) yes it did because all the help you need is right behind a desk and they are more than willing to help. (NOS-53730) Some College 19-28 I have once asked a librarian to point me to sources on a particular topic and the librarian personally went and pulled numerous books off the shelf. (NOS-87254) The librarian took time out of her day to help me, and actually did more than I expected. I asked for sources, and she went and retrieved the books for me. (NOS-87254) A smile and gernerally being happy prompts others to do the same. While being nice the the librarian and visa versa, this helped the general situation. The same could not be achieved in chat or text messaging. (NOS-87254) Some College 19-28 I had asked a very specific question about a topic that was hard to find, and using as many databases as she could, the librarian found me a plethora of sources. (UOS-85575) I felt that the encounter was successful, because she was only 1 of many librarians that could help me. She was polite, friendly, and definitely not opposed to hardwork. (UOS-85575) Yes, because it was late at night, and I could not get to a library. (UOS-85575) Some College 19-28
  • NOS N=36 UOS N=14 Obtaining specific resources 19% (n=7) Quickly 36% (n=5) Answering question 14% (n=5) Specific resources 36% (n=5) Convenience 11% (n=4) Accurate 36% (n=5) Convenience 29% (n=4) I needed help in finding specific books for a research project. I asked the librarian and not only was she really helpful in helping me find the books I needed, but she also recommended several other books that she thought would aid me in my research. (NOS-48191) I left the library having more than double the information in the subject that I was expecting not to find much information on . (NOS-48191) Some College 19-28 I had to find some sources for a paper, and I talked to a reference librarian in person that gave me specific, solid information. I wasn't exactly positive the information was right because I was a novice at the time, but I did well on the paper because I trusted the fact to face interaction that I had with the reference librarian. (NOS-67135) Some College 19-28 I had to complete a research paper for my Research in Discipline class, the topic was the Iraq War. So I e-mailed the librarian that was in charge of our class and she responded to my question via e-mail very quickly and in a very detailed way. She told me which online database to look under and how I would use the search features in that system. (NOS-77945) She was very detailed oriented and targeted exactly what I was looking for in my research paper. She even helped me to narrow my thesis statement down. (NOS-77945) Yes, the email format did my my experience to be successful. Because I was able to ask a question without leaving my home and got the response back very quickly and effectively without any problems. This really shows that librarians can communicate the same way in different formats . (NOS-77945) Some College 19-28
  • UOS N=16 Not answering question 25% (n=4) NOS N=34 Slow answer to question 12% (n=4) Librarian busy 12% (n=4) I was looking for information on the life of a mostly unknown author for a school project. I was unable to find the results with Google or other generic search engines. (UOS-21747) The results that the librarian provided to me were identical to what I had found on Google, and they were unable to locate any more information. I ended up going to the library's main branch a few days later, and I found what I needed there. I was disappointed, because it seemed as if the librarian did not try to use any "special" resources that might not be well known by the public. (UOS-21747) Some College 15-18 One time, I had a simple question about when my book was due back to the library. The librarian had an attitude and took a while on the computer to answer my question. It seemed as if my question was unimportant to him. (NOS-29466) It was unsuccessful because he made me feel as if my question was unimportant. Even though he eventually answered, his condescending tone annoyed me . (NOS-29466) Some College 19-28 One librarian was not helpful. She was very rude and did not want to help me at all. I came in and tried to find some resources for my project. After being unable to find what I needed I asked for assistance. She made me feel like she was too busy to help me and that I was bothering her. (NOS-21119) That specific librarian was very rude . (NOS-21119) Some College 19-28
  • NOS N=19 UOS N=21 Obtaining specific resources 21% (n=4) Specific resources 14% (n=3) Walks user through task 21% (n=4) Accurate 14% (n=3) Positive attitude 16% (n=3) Convenience 38% (n=8) Answering question 11% (n=2) Convenience 11% (n=2) I was obtaining several academic references for a professor that I worked for. I asked the librarian to assist me with tracking one particular book that I could not find on a shelf. She was able to look up the book on the internet library system, verify that it was available, and she located the book on the shelves (even though it was in the wrong place on the shelf). (NOS-82189) The experience was successful because the librarian managed to locate a book on the shelf; even though it was in the wrong place . (NOS-82189) Some Graduate 19-28 I had a question about where to locate some primary articles that were not very recently published. (NOS-77749) Though I had to go to the reference desk more than once, the librarian was able to walk me thought the process of locating the materials and requesting it from offsite. (NOS-77749) The experience was successful because I was able to obtain answers to all my questions. (NOS-77749) Some Graduate 19-28 I was looking for biographical date on researchers and didn't know where to look. (NOS-45752) I emailed a librarian and she made an appointment with me. Then she spent quite a bit of time showing me the resources for looking up biographical date for living persons that were not that famous, and she also found quite a bit of information for me. (NOS-45752) Masters 19-28 I was looking for a specific source and the librarian walked me to exactly where it was because I had already tried finding it myself but was confused by the system. (NOS-85045) He made me a priority and took the time to make sure I found what i needed. (NOS-85045) Masters 19-28
  • NOS N=19 UOS N=21 Appropriate level 16% (n=3) Follow-up 14% (n=3) When I was in college, I worked as a research assistant for an English professor. I needed to learn how to more effectively use the library's resources to create a bibliography for the professor. The professor referred me to a librarian, who set up an appointment with me, met with me in the library, showed me how to effectively search the library's databases for articles, recommended specific databases for the subject area, and showed me how to use the microfiche equipment. (NOS-81566) I liked the one-on-one interaction, which enabled me to have my specific questions answered on the spot. The librarian was able to address my specific needs with practical, useful information. She was friendly and appeared genuinely glad to be helping me. (NOS-81566) Some Graduate 19-28 I wanted to be able to locate dissertations that had been completed by other PhD students in my field. I was both able to attend a workshop at the University library and able to get personalized help with my search. (NOS-90773) The workshop presenter was knowledgeable, well organized and listened to the individual needs of the workshop participants. He was efficient in teaching search techniques and knew the various databases well. He also demonstrated some new search techniques for finding information if it was not immediately available in a search. (NOS-90773) Yes, although I like technology, I learn best from hearing and seeing the material simultaneously. I can learn from slide show or in web-video presentations and will use these materials, but I liked going to the workshop. (NOS-90773) Masters 29-35
  • I needed to access a book in the library but it was listed as "being restored" instead of being on the shelf so I contacted a librarian over chat to see if there was any way I could get access to the book. I was studying at the time and felt it would be rude to make a phone call and disturb those studying around me so instead I used chat on my laptop. (UOS-30287) My question was answered very quickly and I received a follow up email shortly thereafter AND even a phone call to set up an appointment to view the book while it was being restored. Overall, every single person I talked to (chat, phone and in person at the restoration area in McKeldin Library) were all extremely helpful to my situation and I told them so. I was surprised how simple the process was since I had never used chat before and never really used the library that much either. (UOS-30287) Some Graduate 19-28 I inquired about disorderly conduct (Revised Codes of Washington) RCW with the Secretary of State website online chat client because i was unable to locate the specific topic using either the directory tree or the search engine text box. The online librarian was cordial and though unable to immediately assist me in gather the information, she emailed me with the appropriate response and links to my questions within 24 hours. (UOS-60788) Although she could not help immediately, she did two things leading to my success. 1, after explaining where she was looking i found assurance i was looking in the right place and the topic was difficult to find. 2, when she couldnt find the answer within a short amount of time (probably 20 minutes or so) she emailed me the answer within a short period. (UOS-60788) Yes, ultimately i got the answers i was looking for. (UOS-60788) Some Graduate 19-28 I asked for comparative history on buddhism and hinduism. I received many great suggestions. The next day I received an email from another librarian who had reviewed the transcript and thought that he/she could suggest some better sources. She also included some search terms for future use and some database suggestions. (UOS-26224) Went the extra mile. Seemed to know what they were talking about and Asked good reference questions? (UOS-26224) Masters 29-35
  • UOS N=21 NOS N=19 Lacking specific resources 14% (n=3) Resources missing 11% (n=2) Shortage 11% (n=2) I was trying to dig up information about a local park in Jersey City, NJ. The park was named after Mary Benson as was intended to be a passive park. The park is currently used in other ways and the community is constantly looking for ways to fight the city and make a case that the current was not the intent of Mary Benson. (UOS-45143) Well, there was not much printed or documented information, which of course is not the fault of the librarian, but it was disappointing. (UOS-45143) No. In fact, the librarian knew a lot obout Mary Benson as breing one of the first early immigrants in Jersey City. Although it was interesting, it was not documented in writing. (UOS-45143) Some Graduate 19-28 I was looking for a book that the libraries online catalogue said was available but I couldn't find. (NOS-13530) He just used the same search tools I did and didn't have any suggestions on what to do except to wait for it to show up. Often I dont have weeks to wait for it to appear or not to appear. He also wouldn't let me inter library loan it because he said they had a copy so I couldn't use ILL. (NOS-13530) Masters 19-28 I was at the library and had a question about finding one specific article that I searched and searched for, but was unable to find. I went up to the librarian's desk and there were two other people waiting and the librar[ian] looked very crabby. I stood there for about 10 minutes and I still was unable to get any help, so finally I just walked away. (NOS-97559) I did not get help and I wasted 10 minutes. Also, it did make me feel more intimidated because I felt like the librarian thought I was a nuisance. (NOS-97559) Masters 19-28 Before understanding articles on reserve at Rutgers, I was disappointed because the system said that it was on reserve for an hour, and I kept checking back to see if it had been returned and it hadn't. (NOS-91960) I didn't get what I needed in the manner of time that had been communicated to me. (NOS-91960) Some Graduate 19-28
  • NOS N=19 Intimidated 16% (n=3) Communication skills; poor question clarification; nonverbal behavior all 11% (n=2) One time I asked for help finding a book, and the librarian directed me to a certain aisle. I found the aisle okay, but I spent about 30 minutes looking up and down the aisle to find my specific book. When unsuccessful, I returned to the librarian, and I felt embarrassed that I could not find the information. (NOS-74460) Masters 19-28 I asked a subject librarian at an academic library for help finding a particular article in a particular issue of a magazine, which I needed to cite in an article I was writing. I had the full article citation and just needed to find the issue with the article itself. Instead, the librarian asked why I needed the article and began trying all sorts of searches on various databases (and, eventually, Google) using various iterations of my general topic as search strings. I tried to explain that I wasn't interested in doing a general search on my topic, but that instead I needed this specific article, but she never really listened, and instead I ended up wasting a significant amount of time. (NOS-32648) The librarian was so overzealous with helping me that she lost sight of what I actually needed, which in this case was quite limited in scope, a specific item . (NOS-32648) Masters 29-35 I couldn't find a book that was said to be shelved on the shelves. I alerted the person behind the counter that it was missing. (NOS-85046) The person (definately not a librarian) looked bored, and asked me if I was sure I knew how to locate a library book. I found the way this person questioned my competance insulting . (NOS-85046) Masters 19-28
  • NOS N=6 UOS N=7 Obtaining specific resources 33% (n=2) Quickly 43% (n=3) Convenience 29% (n=2) Positive attitude 29% (n=2) I needed help with formatting references in a paper I was submitting for publication. I had asked our librarian for help in finding the particular format that was required. (NOS-47383) The encounter was extremely successful. The librarian immediately began searching for what I needed and within an hour at most was at my desk with the information . (NOS-47383) Doctoral 29-35 I was looking for a disseration from 2006. The librarian directed me to Proquest Dissertations and Theses. We found the dissertation. Great service! (UOS-75779) Becuase it only took 5 minutes to obtain a copy of the material using a chat service. I could have spent hours searching for it on my own . (UOS-75779) Doctoral 36-45 Searched the web for 20-30 minutes without success in finding the answer to my query. (UOS-66785) The librarian found my answer. It took her a little while, but was pretty darned fast. (UOS-66785) She was very polite, very helpful, couteous, and gave me the reference where she found my answer. It was wonderful! (UOS-66785) Doctoral 46-55 Asked a question about Hannah Arendt and got good answers and sources from a chat libtrarian in Baltimore, even though I live near Washington. Quick response and it was on-target. (UOS-84973) The Librarian threw in a cordial sign off and encouraged me to pursue the reading. It was like talking to a friendly librarian in person. (UOS-84973) Format was good; gave me a chance to reply and to see the web references, all on the same screen . (UOS-84973) Doctoral Degree 56-65
  • NOS N=6 Knowledge 33% (n=2) Needed technical references for writing a research project (NOS-24763) Because the librarian was competent and attentive enough to find me what i needed (NOS-24763) Doctoral 36-45
  • Praise librarians
  • Virtual Reference And Information Behaviors Of Researchers

    1. 1. <ul><li>Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>RLG European Partners Meeting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>18 September 2009 </li></ul></ul>Virtual Reference and Information Behaviors of Researchers
    2. 2. User Studies <ul><li>Research to understand needs of diverse user population </li></ul><ul><li>Design services to meet users’ needs </li></ul>
    3. 3. Information Environment <ul><li>Rapidly changing user characteristics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information-seeking preferences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication & behavior patterns </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Global economics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Decrease in funding sources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ongoing budget cuts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Informed decision-making </li></ul>
    4. 4. Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services from User, Non-User, & Librarian Perspectives <ul><li>IMLS, OCLC, & Rutgers University funded project </li></ul><ul><li>Four phases: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus group interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analysis of 850 QuestionPoint live chat transcripts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online surveys </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>137 VRS Users </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>184 VRS Non-users </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Telephone interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> 76 VRS Users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> 107 VRS Non-users </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Online Surveys & Telephone Interviews <ul><li>Descriptive statistical analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Demographics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple choice (surveys only) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Likert-type (surveys only) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Qualitative analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open-ended questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2 critical incident (CI) questions </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Identifying Academic Respondents <ul><li>Undergraduate students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Education: Some college </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Age: Between15-18 and 19-28 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Graduate students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Education: Some graduate school or Masters’ degree </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Age: Between 19-28 and 29-35 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Earned doctorates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Education: Doctoral degree </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Age: 19-65+ </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Academic Respondents <ul><li>Results for academic respondents </li></ul><ul><li>Basic information behaviors </li></ul><ul><li>Experiences with libraries </li></ul><ul><li>Reasons for using libraries </li></ul><ul><li>Alternate information sources </li></ul><ul><li>Use of Virtual Reference Services </li></ul><ul><li>Factors in successful and unsuccessful interactions </li></ul>
    8. 8. Academics’ Information Behaviors
    9. 9. Seeking Basic Information <ul><li>“ Think about a time that you needed to know something…” </li></ul><ul><li>(Non-chat-users telephone interviews, question 2) </li></ul>
    10. 10. Seeking Basic Information: Non-User Undergraduate Students <ul><li>Human resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Colleagues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Librarians </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Find information themselves </li></ul>
    11. 11. Seeking Basic Information: Non-User Graduate Students <ul><li>Human resources </li></ul><ul><li>Google </li></ul><ul><li>Find information themselves, </li></ul><ul><li>but also </li></ul><ul><li>Library </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Library website </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Journals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Library databases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Librarian </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Seeking Basic Information: Non-User Doctorates <ul><li>A different kind of behavior </li></ul><ul><li>“ Go to the physical library” </li></ul><ul><li>… or, </li></ul><ul><li>“ It depends…” </li></ul>
    13. 13. Experiences with the Library: All Academic Non-Users <ul><li>Usually successful interactions with librarians </li></ul><ul><li>Feel comfortable with the librarian (especially doctorates) </li></ul><ul><li>Profit from the librarian’s knowledge </li></ul>
    14. 14. Experiences with the Library: Non-User Undergraduate & Graduate Students <ul><li>Believe the mode of communication with librarian contributes to successful interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Perception of librarian </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Helpful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approachable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Friendly </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Graduate Student Quotes <ul><li>She was very approachable, which I felt by the way that she approached me when I first walked in to the library. </li></ul><ul><li>NTI-005 Masters 19-28 </li></ul><ul><li>And she’s very warm and friendly and easy to approach. NTI-69 Masters 19-28 </li></ul><ul><li>In Art at my school we have a very good librarian who is very knowledgeable, she knows all about the subject and what papers we have and everything, and she’s just generally a very helpful person NTI-69 Masters 19-28 </li></ul><ul><li>I always think it's better to talk to anybody in person, to communicate, I would say probably, but it seemed like he could have helped me either way, I guess personal bias: it helps to interact with someone in person. </li></ul><ul><li>NTI-075 Masters 19-28 </li></ul>
    16. 16. Experiences with the Library: Non-User Undergraduate & Graduate Students <ul><li>Highly value </li></ul><ul><li>Getting an answer </li></ul><ul><li>Getting a BOOK </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Library brand </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Experiences with the Library: Non-user Net Gens (N=122) FtF Preferred “ I most enjoy using”
    18. 18. Experiences with the Library: Non-User Doctorates <ul><li>Perception of Librarian </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Helpful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approachable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good demeanor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledgeable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Professional </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Reasons for Using the Library: Non-User Undergraduate Students <ul><li>School work or research </li></ul><ul><li>Reliable information </li></ul><ul><li>Books </li></ul><ul><li>Breadth and depth of resources </li></ul>
    20. 20. Reasons for Using the Library: Non-User Graduate Students <ul><li>School work/research </li></ul><ul><li>Good place to start </li></ul><ul><li>Resources available </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Academic journals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Databases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Entertainment (!) </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Reasons for Using the Library: Non-User Doctorates <ul><li>Reliable and Vetted Information </li></ul>
    22. 22. Alternative Information Sources: All Academic Non-Users <ul><li>When thinking of a time they chose not to use the library… </li></ul><ul><li>Used the Internet instead </li></ul>
    23. 23. Alternative Information Sources: Non-User Graduate Students & Doctorates <ul><li>When thinking of a time they chose not to use the library… </li></ul><ul><li>Graduate students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Colleagues </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Doctorates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Other experts in the field </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. Academic Use of Virtual Reference
    25. 25. When Chat Reference is First Choice: Undergraduate & Graduate Student Users <ul><li>Undergraduate students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Simple questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cannot find themselves </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Graduate students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Quick help” </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. Would Recommend VRS: All Academic Users <ul><li>Undergraduate students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>After-hours availability </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Graduate students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Speed, efficiency, and ease of use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complain about slow response time </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Doctorates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Convenience </li></ul></ul>
    27. 27. Relational Theory & Interpersonal Communication in VRS <ul><li>Every message has </li></ul><ul><li>dual dimensions </li></ul><ul><li>-- both content and relational </li></ul><ul><li>(Watzlawick, Beavin, & Jackson, 1967) </li></ul>
    28. 28. The Critical Incident Technique (CIT) <ul><li>Flanagan (1954) </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative technique </li></ul><ul><li>Focuses on most memorable event/experience </li></ul><ul><li>Allows categories or themes to emerge rather than being imposed </li></ul>
    29. 29. Positive VRS Critical Incidents: Undergraduate Students <ul><li>Librarian’s </li></ul><ul><li>POSITIVE ATTITUDE </li></ul>
    30. 30. Positive VRS Critical Incidents: Undergraduate Students <ul><li>Obtaining specific resources: </li></ul><ul><li>Quickly </li></ul><ul><li>Conveniently </li></ul><ul><li>Accurately </li></ul><ul><li>Getting the question answered! </li></ul>
    31. 31. Undergraduate Student Quotes <ul><li>I needed help with MLA guidelines for a college research paper, the librarian gave me the info that I needed and adviced me to use additional resources for researching the topic. (UOS-11039) I was able to receive the info that I needed. (UOS-11039) Some College 15-18 </li></ul><ul><li>I was looking for information on the life of Homer, and I was provided with a number of valuable sites which had much information on them. (UOS-21747) I was able to use most of the sites in my report, and there was a good amount of information on them. (UOS-21747) Some college 15-18 </li></ul><ul><li>I was looking for a recording of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's clarinet Op. 128. The librarian was not able to tell me of any specific libraries that carried the recording but instead was able to show me more resources outside of libraries where I might be able to obtain a recording. (UOS-97074) I was able to find out that no libraries near me had the recording, so I could stop my search, and I was able to be pointed in the right direction. (UOS-97074) The chat format helped my experience since I was doing other work while chatting and I didn't have enough time to do both . (UOS-97074) Some College 19-28 </li></ul>
    32. 32. Negative VRS Critical Incidents: Undergraduate Students <ul><li>Not answering the question </li></ul><ul><li>Slow answer to the question </li></ul><ul><li>Librarian is busy </li></ul>
    33. 33. Positive VRS Critical Incidents: Graduate Students <ul><li>Obtaining specific resources </li></ul><ul><li>Librarian walking the user through a task </li></ul><ul><li>Answering the question </li></ul><ul><li>Convenience </li></ul><ul><li> … but also ... </li></ul>
    34. 34. Positive VRS Critical Incidents: Graduate Students <ul><li>Appropriate level of bibliographic instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Librarian follow-up </li></ul>
    35. 35. Positive VRS Critical Incidents: Graduate Students
    36. 36. Negative VRS Critical Incidents: Graduate Students <ul><li>Specific resources are </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lacking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Missing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Shortage of library staff </li></ul>
    37. 37. Negative VRS Critical Incidents: Graduate Students <ul><li>Being intimidated by the librarian </li></ul><ul><li>Librarian’s poor communication skills </li></ul><ul><li>Poor use of question clarification </li></ul><ul><li>Threatening nonverbal behavior </li></ul>
    38. 38. Positive VRS Critical Incidents: Doctorates <ul><li>Specific resources available </li></ul><ul><li>Quick </li></ul><ul><li>Convenient </li></ul><ul><li>Librarian’s positive attitude </li></ul>
    39. 39. Positive VRS Critical Incidents: Doctorates <ul><li>Librarian’s special </li></ul><ul><li>KNOWLEDGE </li></ul>
    40. 40. Conclusions
    41. 41. Summary: Undergraduate Students <ul><li>Seek information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Humans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Own efforts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use library to get answers and books </li></ul><ul><li>Want quick, convenient resources </li></ul><ul><li>Want good answers </li></ul><ul><li>Value a librarian’s positive attitude </li></ul>
    42. 42. Summary: Graduate Students <ul><li>Seek information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Colleagues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Library </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Value specific scholarly resources available </li></ul><ul><li>In specific interactions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Want to obtain the best resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Value convenience and efficiency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Praise librarian follow-up </li></ul></ul>
    43. 43. Summary: Doctorates <ul><li>Value librarians </li></ul><ul><li>Seek information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reliable and vetted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expert colleagues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Specific scholarly resources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In specific interactions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Want resources quickly and conveniently </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Value librarians’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Positive attitude </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge </li></ul></ul></ul>
    44. 44. Recommendations: Academic Librarians <ul><li>Understand the diversity of users </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain the strength and breadth of library resources </li></ul><ul><li>Interact with a positive, professional attitude </li></ul><ul><li>Provide help in a timely, efficient manner </li></ul>
    45. 45. Recommendations: Academic VRS Providers <ul><li>Highlight convenience of the service </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Undergraduates: 24/7 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Graduates & Doctorates: Time of need </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Offer the same quality of reference services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Undergraduates: Quick answers to questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Graduates: Resources & bibliographic instruction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Doctorates: Specialized knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Maintain positive attitude </li></ul>
    46. 46. <ul><li>Questions & </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D. </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Special thanks to Timothy J. Dickey and Erin Hood </li></ul>Questions & Discussion