Assessing Digital Reference

Ruth A. Hodges
2002 Libri  
The World Wide Web has emerged as a powerful tool to enhance navigation and communication over the Internet. Within the past few years, numerous Web-based digital reference services have been established by libraries. The goal of this study is to identify user needs as reflected in the queries they submit to these services. The study is user-centered and seeks to evaluate digital reference services from the users' perspectives. To address these issues, the paper examines digital reference
more » ... ons received at a large university library in the Southeastern United States (SeU) from January to March 2001. Content analysis and descriptive sta-tistics are used to analyze the data. Findings suggest that questions received by the digital reference service simulate questions received by traditional reference services; that digital reference service reaches only a small segment of the target population; and that the question submission form needs to be redesigned to better identify and prevent the loss of valuable user information. If the library is to succeed in delivering digital reference service and in defining the roles of reference librarians, it must enhance the quality of service to users in order to have a sustainable, competitive advantage in the provision of information in the digital realm.
doi:10.1515/libr.2002.157 fatcat:ygib2nsn45e4jgyo25japoprsa