Staffing Virtual Reference: A Comparison of User Questions and Library Web Site Traffic at Duke University Libraries.
Synchronous virtual reference (VR) services, usually in the form of online chat interfaces or instant messaging (IM), are increasingly provided by academic libraries as a way to enhance accessibility and provide better reference services to digital native users. This study evaluates the accessibility and value of synchronous VR service at Duke University. Using a complete sample of VR transcripts from a single week, the study compares the number and content of VR inquiries with usage statistics for the library’s Web site, especially areas of the site that are related to the most common types of VR questions asked. The central goal of the study is to determine the optimal hours for staffing VR by predicting user needs from Web traffic in areas that seem to generate VR questions. The analysis of question content also offers insight into user behavior, allowing for an evaluation of what kinds of questions patrons ask.
Advisor:Losee, Robert M.
School:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
School Location:USA - North Carolina
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:reference services automation college and university libraries internet hours of opening
Date of Publication:04/09/2007