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Does the Medium Matter? ALA Orlando 2004 Cole/Hyland A comparative analysis of openings in face-to-face and computer- mediated reference interactions.

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Presentation on theme: "Does the Medium Matter? ALA Orlando 2004 Cole/Hyland A comparative analysis of openings in face-to-face and computer- mediated reference interactions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Does the Medium Matter? ALA Orlando 2004 Cole/Hyland A comparative analysis of openings in face-to-face and computer- mediated reference interactions

2 Research Team Reference Librarians: Virginia Cole, Ph.D. Nan Hyland Nancy Skipper Kornelia Tancheva, Ph.D. Communication Department: Jeff Hancock, Ph.D., Faculty Bruce William Hardy, Graduate Student

3 Human Subjects Approval

4 Recording for Phone Hello. This is Olin/Uris Reference. Reference phone calls are being recorded today for a communication study. Transactions are completely confidential, however, let us know if you have any concerns. How can I help?

5 Online Privacy

6 Sign at the Reference Desk NOTICE: Transactions at the Reference desk are being audiotaped today as part of a study on communication in libraries. The CU Library staff apologizes for any inconveniences that this may cause. For more information please contact Virginia Cole at

7 Sonic Foundry’s Sound Forge

8 Call Corder

9 Data 89 face-to-face interactions from 2 libraries on 11/4/ chat transcripts randomly selected from among all categories of questions in a single month

10 1996 RUSA Guidelines 1. approachability 2. interest 3. listening/inquiring 4. searching 5. follow-up

11 Interactions 1. task 2. manner

12 Face to Face Transcripts MANN LIBRARY TRANSACTION #9 START TIME: 11:59AM TOTAL TIME: 0:29 GENDER OF PATRON: FEMALE GENDER OF LIBRARIAN: MALE L: Can I help you? P: Hi. Would I find the dictionary of ecological and biological terminology over here? L: Do you have a call number for it?

13 Face to Face Transcripts L: Hi, have a question? P: Yeah, I have a problem retrieving a, um, computer, the network file… L: Uh-huh. P: …the library catalog… L: Okay. P: …and I was wondering… L: Just one second. P: Okay. L: Was it a net-library book? an electronic book? or…

14 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes?

15 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes? First Level Pre-Commitment Pre-commitment

16 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes? Second Level Pre-Commitment Pre-commitment

17 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes? Pre-commitment Direct Response to 1 st Level

18 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes? Pre-commitment Direct Response to 2 nd Level

19 Pre-requests 1. Permission May I ask you where the photocopier is? Could I ask you where the photocopier is? 2. Imposition Would you mind telling me where the photocopier is? Would it be too much trouble to tell me where….. 3. Ability Can you tell me where the photocopier is? Do you know where the photocopier is? 4. Memory Have I already asked you where the photocopier is? 5. Commitment Will you tell me where the photocopier is? Would you tell me where the photocopier is? 6. Obligation Shouldn’t you tell me where the photocopier is?

20 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes? Pre-request Used to request commitment and mitigate imposition

21 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes? Pre-request Polite Response Librarian directly responds to pre-request

22 Librarian: Hey, can I help? Patron: What floor is this? Librarian: We’re on the first floor. Direct Question

23 Librarian: Hello. Patron: Hi. Um, I need to find some information on humor and American literature and humor and Native American literature. I did a search in the library catalogue for humor and I found some general stuff, but it wasn’t anything… Indirect Requests Indirect Request

24 Librarian: Hello. Patron: Hi. Um, I need to find some information on humor and American literature and humor and Native American literature. I did a search in the library catalogue for humor and I found some general stuff, but it wasn’t anything… Indirect Requests Justification Statement Used to justify the patron’s imposition on Librarian

25 Librarian Approachability in Terms of Pre-commitments

26 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes? Pre-commitment Direct Response to 1 st Level

27 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes? Second Level Pre-Commitment Pre-commitment

28 Patron Response to Librarian Pre-Commitment

29 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes? Pre-commitment Direct Response to 2 nd Level

30 Patron Politeness (measured by pre-requests)

31 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes? Pre-request Used to request commitment and mitigate imposition

32 Librarian Politeness (measured by response to patron pre-request)

33 Librarian: Hello. Can I help you? Patron: Hi. Yeah. Do you know if you have any recent books on fasting? And they do not have to do with religion. Librarian: Well, I don’t know. We can certainly search together and see if we can find something. Are you doing a paper for one of your classes? Pre-request Polite Response Librarian directly responds to pre-request

34 Patrons’ Direct Questions and Indirect Statements

35 Librarian: Hey, can I help? Patron: What floor is this? Librarian: We’re on the first floor. Direct Question

36 Librarian: Hello. Patron: Hi. Um, I need to find some information on humor and American literature and humor and Native American literature. I did a search in the library catalogue for humor and I found some general stuff, but it wasn’t anything… Indirect Requests Indirect Request

37 Patron Justification (virtually the same)

38 Librarian: Hello. Patron: Hi. Um, I need to find some information on humor and American literature and humor and Native American literature. I did a search in the library catalogue for humor and I found some general stuff, but it wasn’t anything… Indirect Requests Justification Statement Used to justify the patron’s imposition on Librarian

39 Possible Explanations Librarians’ Connection is Often Faster than patrons’ Automated Scripts Visual Cues Typing in Chat is Less Cost Effective Patrons Might Be More Sure of Help in Chat Both Unseen in Chat

40 Data-set Unique for Communications Unique for Libraries Quantitative Study

41 Conclusions Librarians’ responses and level of politeness do not vary significantly between face-to-face and chat. Patrons’ questions are the same in each medium but the level of politeness is lower in chat.

42 Thank You Virginia Cole – Nan Hyland – Special Thanks to: Bruce Hardy Jeff Hancock Kornelia Tancheva Nancy Skipper CU Library Internal Grants Committee


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