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Meeting student needs at the reference desk

Meeting student needs at the reference desk Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate student use of the reference desk at a residential college, so that academic libraries can better understand the role of in‐person assistance to meet the information needs of students. Design/methodology/approach – Survey respondents answered open‐ended questions related to ways they ask for help in the library; data were coded and analyzed for salient trends. Photo diary entries and interviews with smaller groups of students were also used to illuminate findings. Findings – Students express a need for the kind of help provided by the reference desk in terms of how students use and describe the desk. Usage patterns can also be predicted in terms of class year, gender, and major, indicating a way for the library to provide specific outreach to students who underutilize the reference desk. Research limitations/implications – The study investigates student use of the reference desk at a single institution. The unique characteristics of the institution might limit the implications that can be drawn from the study's conclusions for institutions that are not residential and do not serve a primarily traditional‐aged college population. Originality/value – As information and our users move increasingly online, libraries must consider the value of reference desks. Findings at a residential institution demonstrate the value‐added benefit of this service in helping students with their research. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Reference Services Review Emerald Publishing

Meeting student needs at the reference desk

Reference Services Review , Volume 39 (3): 16 – Aug 16, 2011

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0090-7324
DOI
10.1108/00907321111161412
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate student use of the reference desk at a residential college, so that academic libraries can better understand the role of in‐person assistance to meet the information needs of students. Design/methodology/approach – Survey respondents answered open‐ended questions related to ways they ask for help in the library; data were coded and analyzed for salient trends. Photo diary entries and interviews with smaller groups of students were also used to illuminate findings. Findings – Students express a need for the kind of help provided by the reference desk in terms of how students use and describe the desk. Usage patterns can also be predicted in terms of class year, gender, and major, indicating a way for the library to provide specific outreach to students who underutilize the reference desk. Research limitations/implications – The study investigates student use of the reference desk at a single institution. The unique characteristics of the institution might limit the implications that can be drawn from the study's conclusions for institutions that are not residential and do not serve a primarily traditional‐aged college population. Originality/value – As information and our users move increasingly online, libraries must consider the value of reference desks. Findings at a residential institution demonstrate the value‐added benefit of this service in helping students with their research.

Journal

Reference Services ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 16, 2011

Keywords: Reference services; Reference desk; Residential college; In‐person assistance; United States of America; Academic libraries

References