Dissertation Information for Charlotte Elizabeth Ford
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: An exploratory study of the differences between face-to-face and computer-mediated reference interactions
Abstract: This research furthers our understanding of reference service in the networked, digital library by addressing the question: How do face-to face reference interactions differ from computer-mediated reference interactions? A library was identified which offered face-to-face, e-mail, and chat reference service. Twelve librarians were observed as they provided all three types of service, for a period of three weeks. Over 100 face-to-face interactions were tape recorded and transcribed. E-mail and real-time computer interactions from the same time period (over 100 in each medium) were captured and stripped of identifying information. The data were then entered into a QSR database. Content analysis and discourse analysis were used to determine how the types of questions asked by users varied across media; how the types of responses varied across media; and how interactivity varied across media. Observations and brief interviews were also used to document these differences.
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