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Prioritisation, Resources and Search Terms: A Study of Decision-Making at the Virtual Reference Desk

Attfield, S; Makri, S; Kalbach, J; Blandford, A; De Gabrielle, S; Edwards, M; (2008) Prioritisation, Resources and Search Terms: A Study of Decision-Making at the Virtual Reference Desk. In: ChristensenDalsgaard, B and Castelli, D and Jurik, BA and Lippincott, J, (eds.) RESEARCH AND ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY FOR DIGITAL LIBRARIES. (pp. 106 - 116). SPRINGER-VERLAG BERLIN

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Abstract

The reinterpretation of the traditional reference service in an online context is the virtual reference desk. Placing reference services into an online setting, however, presents many challenges. We report a study and analytic framework which addresses support for decision-making during virtual enquiry work. Focusing on specialist law-libraries, the study shows that enquirers do not volunteer important information to the service and that asynchronous communication media and some social obstacles present barriers to prompting. Also, previous enquiries are frequently used to inform current enquiry strategies but barriers exist in accessing this information. We conclude that email is an inadequate medium for supporting virtual reference services, and that system should support automatic, speculative matching between new enquiry content and integrated enquiry knowledge bases. The contribution of the framework is to offer a structured approach to evaluation in multiple virtual reference contexts and enable rapid convergence on barriers to efficient and effective service.

Type:Proceedings paper
Title:Prioritisation, Resources and Search Terms: A Study of Decision-Making at the Virtual Reference Desk
Event:12th European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries
Location:Aarhus, DENMARK
Dates:2008-09-14 - 2008-09-19
ISBN-13:978-3-540-87598-7
Keywords:virtual reference service, evaluation, collaborative information access, DIGITAL LIBRARIES, USERS
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of) > UCL Interaction Centre
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Computer Science

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