Dissertation Information for Thomas Brian Nielsen
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: THE IMPACT OF A USER FEE ON LIBRARIAN RESPONSIVENESS: AN EXAMINATION OF ONLINE BIBLIOGRAPHIC SEARCHING AND REFERENCE PRACTICE
Abstract: The practice by academic librarians of charging fees for providing computer-produced bibliographies has been criticized for its potential detrimental effect on the availability of online bibliographic searching, but little attention has been placed on how the charging of a fee may affect the behavior of the librarian. This study compares the behavior of 42 academic reference librarians providing online searching for a fee in nine research libraries with the behavior of 12 librarians in three research libraries which did not impose a fee, using the perspective of conflict theory formulated by the sociologist Randall Collins. It was hypothesized that the fee-charging libraries would be more responsive to their users than the non-fee librarians in six respects: (1) these librarians would spend more time with the users; (2) they would spend more time doing the online searches; (3) they would perform more tasks in the searches; (4) they would participate more in continuing education opportunities; (5) they would conduct more bibliographic instruction; and (6) they would do less clerical work. A two-stage mail survey was conducted, providing data on the librarians' work practices and attitudes, and on the conduct of 24 online searches. The first hypothesis found the most support, and hypotheses two and four found limited support. The findings are discussed as they relate to conflict theory, and avenues for further research are suggested.
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