Research Proposal Draft Abstract

This study explores users’ opinions on different models of reference service at one academic library. In recent years, some libraries have embraced alternative models of reference service, such as virtual reference, “embedded librarians,” and the “Brandeis-model.” In anticipation of a move to a new library, administrators of a large research university, appointed a team to select or develop a model that will serve users of the new library most effectively. A professional moderator will conduct nine focus groups, consisting of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members who are both users and non-users of the library. The aim is to gather qualitative data on users’ research needs and processes, and their opinions each service model. In order to solicit informed opinions of multiple reference models, the groups will be asked for their reactions to computer-generated simulations that demonstrate each model of service. The reactions will be audiotaped, transcribed, coded and classified, and then analyzed to determine preferences of service from the participants. Although the preferences identified through this simulated approach may not be generalizable to all reference environments, the results may be of application to other academic libraries considering various reference models but lacking funds for their own user studies.

Information Sources and Services

An introduction to concepts and processes in reference and information science and to fundamental information sources and services provided by libraries and information organizations. An overview of the reference function includes the history and future of reference service, question negotiation, information needs analysis, effective research strategies, evaluation of information sources in various formats, and ethics of information services.

Reference Transaction Report

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Part 1

The Reference Desk was not visible from the entrance to the academic library I visited. I consulted a directory which listed “Floor: 1” for Reference, but offered neither map nor directional arrows. Proceeding down the long central corridor, I passed the circulation desk and a bank of elevators before reaching the Reference Desk. I can easily imagine the layout and signage stymieing a first-time user. The library fails to heed RUSA “Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers” to have “Reference Services in a highly visible location and using proper signage” (2004, Section 1.1).

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