L524: Information Sources and Services
School of Library and Information Science
Indiana University - Bloomington
Last updated: August 25, 2006
This course focuses on understanding users' information needs and seeking behaviors, and on meeting those needs through the provision of information. The course introduces the philosophy, principles, and practice of reference services and provides practical experience in evaluating and using a variety of information sources and services. The course also provides practical experience in reference interviewing and developing research guides. The lab segment of the course is mainly devoted to learning the fundamentals of electronic database searching. Students who wish to become reference librarians in research libraries are highly encouraged to take L570 (Online Database Searching) following the completion of L524.
By the end of the course, students should have:
- An understanding of the various roles of information professionals in different environments.
- An appreciation of the interpersonal and communication skills needed to carry out effective reference transactions and work.
- The ability to proficiently analyze reference inquiries in order to assess clients' information needs.
- An understanding of the nature, characteristics, and functions of major types of reference sources.
- Experience with the most important and widely used reference materials as well as the ability to use them in specific reference inquiries.
- The ability to formulate search strategies that will effectively and efficiently identify and locate relevant information.
- The ability to evaluate and select reference sources that best fit the needs of clients.
- An understanding of the basic principles and practices involved in bibliographic instruction.
- The ability to compile high quality research guides.
- An awareness of past, current, and emerging trends in reference sources and services.
Several delivery methods will be used to achieve the goals and objectives of the course, including but not limited to: interactive lecturing, in-class demonstrations of databases and search methods, examination and use of key reference tools and sources, in-class activities, take-home assignments, lab assignments involving electronic database searching, and a term project (online pathfinder). We will use the computer lab to support class activities and complete several of the course projects.
- This course heavily involves student discussion and participation. This necessitates your attendance and completion of readings and assignments prior to class.
- You are expected to attend all sessions in this course. If you must miss a class because of an illness or family emergency, please let the instructor know. Also make arrangements with your classmates to pick up class notes. Three points will be deducted from your final grade for each absence. If you miss three classes, you will be asked to drop the course.
- Use Chicago Manual of Style for citing and listing sources in your projects.
- You will abide by the Indiana University and SLIS policies on academic dishonesty. Students found to be engaging in plagiarism, cheating, or other types of dishonesty will be reported to the Dean's Office for appropriate action. There is extensive documentation and discussion of the issue of academic dishonesty in the Indiana University "Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct." Of particular relevance is the section on plagiarism:
- A grade of Incomplete (I) may be given in this course after discussion with the instructor, but, depending on the circumstances, there will be a penalty applied at the discretion of the instructor.
- The instructor reserves the right to make, with notice, adjustments to the calendar and content of this course syllabus.
- All assignments must be handed in on their due dates. If you cannot deliver an assignment or a project on the date it is due, it is your responsibility to discuss your situation with the instructor, preferably in advance. LATE assignments will automatically lose one-letter grade from the grade they would have gotten had they been turned in on time. In case an absence is inevitable on a day an assignment is due, e-mail the assignment ahead of time to the instructor to avoid the penalty.
Written assignments throughout the semester will familiarize you with sources, search methods, and the theory and philosophy of reference services. Each assignment is designed so you will have opportunities to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the course materials, demonstrate originality and creativity, and exceed the course expectations. Most assignments will be discussed before and after they are completed. Unless otherwise stated below and on individual assignment sheets, all students are to work individually. The assignments for the course include:
Please note that all assignments and readings can be accessed through ERes. Also note that this course demands a HEAVY commitment of your time. It is expected that you will spend an average of 10 hours each week on readings and assignments.
- Five take-home print/electronic reference sources exercises (4% each)
These include questions relating to: bibliographic sources, indexes and abstracts, encyclopedias and biographical sources, business and health information, and geographical, government and statistical sources. While you may work independently, it is highly recommended that you find a partner with whom you can work on these exercises. This will cut your workload and provide valuable discussion as you work through the exercises. Teams are self-selecting. You should review the relevant class handouts and readings before tackling these exercises.
- Five in-class electronic reference sources exercises (4% each)
Throughout the semester, you will be introduced to a variety of online databases and information systems, by means of exercises and in-class demonstartions and discussion. These exercises will be done during class time in the Computer Lab in LI002. Group work is highly encouraged.
- Reference observation/interview assignment (10%)
As part of this assignment, you will visit a library of your choice (academic, public, special, or school) to observe the reference librarian(s) there and ask for materials about your pathfinder topic (see below). After your observation of, and interaction with, the librarian(s), you will answer a set of questions in an essay form and come to class ready to talk about your experience. Further instructions are provided on the assignment sheet.
- Term project: pathfinder (35%)
A pathfinder is a bibliographic guide that introduces clients to the literature of a specific subject area or topic. Its arrangement and content reflect the most common questions in a literature search and the beginning stages of a research project. A pathfinder is not an exhaustive annotated bibliography. Instead, it provides a carefully selected list of various types of important resources, both reference and non-reference. Pathfinders are typically short in length, depending on the intended audience and the resources available. The pathfinder you prepare for this course should not exceed eight pages in length and must be posted on the web. Your pathfinder should only include resources available in one library or library system. Further instructions are provided on the assignment sheet. Click HERE for a sample of pathfinders from previous semesters.
- Readings, class participation, and attendance (15%)
Reading assignments are due on the dates listed in the schedule below. Completing the reading assignments by the dates indicated will enhance your understanding of the lecture topic(s), allow you to participate more fully in class discussions, and perform well in the course overall. Specific discussion points or questions are included in the schedule to focus your readings for most classes. Keep these discussion points or questions in mind as you complete the readings. You are expected to participate in class discussion. Failure to do so will result in you losing much of the 15% assigned for attendance and participation. It should be noted here that there is no straight method for calculating participation points; this portion of your grade will be determined by synthesizing a tally of your attendence and my own subjective impressions of your enthusiasm for the course material and active and meaningful participation in the discussion of readings and lecture topics in the classroom.
Grades will be assigned on an A, B, C bases. The following definitions of letter grades have been defined by student and faculty members of the Committee on Improvement of Instruction and have been approved by the faculty (November 11, 1996) as an aid in evaluation of academic performance and to assist students by giving them an understanding of the grading standards at SLIS.
||Outstanding achievement. Student performance demonstrates full command of the course materials and evinces a high level of originality and/or creativity that far surpasses course expectations.
||Excellent achievement. Student performance demonstrates thorough knowledge of the course materials and exceeds course expectations by completing all requirements in a superior manner.
||Very good work. Student performance demonstrates above-average comprehension of the course materials and exceeds course expectations on all tasks as defined in the course syllabus.
||Good work. Student performance meets designated course expectations, demonstrates understanding of the course materials and is at an acceptable level.
||Marginal work. Student performance demonstrates incomplete understanding of course materials.
|Unsatisfactory work. Student performance demonstrates incomplete and inadequate understanding of course materials.
|Unacceptable work. Coursework performed at this level will not count toward the MLS or MIS degree. For the course to count towards the degree, the student must repeat the course with a passing grade.
||Failing. Student may continue in program only with permission of the Dean.
(Unless otherwise specified, all readings are available on ERes)
SEPTEMBER 01: INTRODUCTION; REFERENCE LIBRARIANSHIP
- Course overview and introductions
- The types of services reference professionals or departments offer
- Definition of a "reference" source
- Types of information sources: direct and indirect, formal and informal
- Which five journals one needs to regularly browse/read to stay up-to-date with developments in reference services
- Which five databases are particularly useful for retrieving LIS literature?
- What do employers like to see in every library school graduate?
- What is expected from a reference librarian to know, do, or be able to do?
- Do reference librarians need another Master's degree to provide quality service? What are the advantages, disadvantages, and obstacles of acquiring a second Master's degree?
- Nested Logic in-class exercise
- Auster, E.; & Chan, D.C. (2004). "Reference Librarians and Keeping Up-to-Date: A Question of Priorities" Reference & User Services Quarterly 44(1), 57-66.
- Bajjali, S.T. (2004). "Contemporary Recruitment in Traditional Libraries." Journal of Education for Library and Information Science Education, 46(1), 53-58.
- Hill, K.C. (2001). "Acquiring Subject Knowledge to Provide Quality Reference Service." Reference Librarian, (72), 219-228.
- Singleton, B. (2003). "Entering Academic Librarianship: Tips for Library School Students." College & Research Libraries News, 64(2), 84-86.
- Whisler, Laurel A. (2004). "Resumes, Curricula Vitae, and Cover Letters for Music Librarians: Suggestions for Librarians in Job Searches or Compiling Annual Review Documents." Music Reference Services Quarterly, 8(4), 1-46.
SEPTEMBER 08: ISSUES & TRENDS IN REFERENCE
- Is print reference dead?
- Who should staff the reference desk and why?
- Would you allow onsite access to unaffiliated users? If so, under what circumstances and conditions? What are the implications (on public relations with the outside community, on other local libraries, etc.) of denying or allowing unaffiliated members to use or have access to your libraries?
- Why do college students use public libraries? What characterizes these students?
- Reference librarians continue to buy expensive print sources, yet, they rarely recommend them for use by patrons. Why is that?
- Which library concepts are students most familiar and least familiar with? How might you alleviate problems resulting from use of library jargon in information literacy courses and programs?
- What are some kinds of problems that certain patrons cause in academic and public libraries? If you have encountered or witnessed any situation that involved a problem patron, please share the experience in class.
- Antell, K. (2004). "Why Do College Students Use Public Libraries?" Reference & User Services Quarterly 43(3), 227-236.
- Blessinger, K.D. (2002). "Problem Patrons: All Shapes and Sizes." Reference Librarian, (75/76), 3-10.
- Bradford, J.T. (2005). What’s Coming Off the Shelves? A Reference Use Study Analyzing Print Reference Sources Used in a University Library. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 31(6), 546–558.
- Courtney, N. (2003). "Unaffiliated Users' Access to Academic Libraries: A Survey." Journal of Academic Librarianship 29(1), 3-7.
- Hutcherson, N.B. (2004). "Library Jargon: Student Recognition of Terms and Concepts Commonly Used by Librarians in the Classroom." College & Research Libraries 65(4), 349-354.
- Reeb, B.; & Gibbons, S. "Students, Librarians, and Subject Guides: Improving a Poor Rate of Return." Portal: Libraries and the Academy 4, no. 1 (2004): 123-130.
- Tyckoson, D. (2004). "Facts Go Online: Are Print Reference Collections Still Relevant?" Against the Grain 16(4), 34, 36, 38.
Due: Pathfinder Topic
SEPTEMBER 15: QUESTION ANALYSIS & NEGOTIATION (REFERENCE INTERVIEW)
- What is a reference interview and what are the different types of reference interviews?
- Why do most librarians seldom do reference interviews? When should a reference interview be conducted?
- Why are good reference interviews frequently difficult to accomplish?
- Why are clients reluctant to talk with librarians?
- Why don't library clients ask good questions?
- What skills do librarians need to be good interviewers?
- What is meant by "negative closure"?
- Name and discuss some factors that may influence the reference interview (e.g., gender, age, prior negative experience, time of the day service was requested, day of the week service was requested, social/personal issues, etc.).
- How did the Internet change reference interviewing?
- How can reference interviews be best evaluated?
- How accurately does the reference staff answer questions posed by their clients?
- The search process: in-class exercise.
- Bopp, R.E.; & Smith, L.C. (2001). Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. Chapter 3: "The Reference Interview," pp. 47-68. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. [On reserve in Kent Cooper Room Z711 .R443 2001]
- Dewdney, P.; & Michell, G.B. (1996). "Oranges and Peaches: Understanding Communication Accidents in the Reference Interview." RQ 35(4), 520-536.
- Kluegel, K.; Ross, C.S.; Ronan, J.; Kern, K.; & Tyckoson, D. (2003). "The Reference Interview: Connecting in Person and in Cyberspace." Reference & User Services Quarterly 43(1), 37-51.
- RUSA (Reference and User Services Association). (2004). "Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers." Reference & User Services Quarterly 44(1), 14-17.
Due: Reference Interview Assignment
SEPTEMBER 22: BIBLIOGRAPHIC CONTROL, ORGANIZATION OF INFORMATION, AND SEARCH STRATEGIES
- What is bibliographic control and what are its basic principles?
- Why are authority control and controlled vocabulary critical in information organization and access?
- How many bibliographic organization schemes are available for libraries to adopt?
- What is meant by collocation and depth and comprehensiveness of indexing?
- The library catalog, periodical databases, and metadata are three types of tools that help in storing, organizing, and retrieving information. Describe them and how they work.
- Boolean logic, truncation, browsing the index and thesaurus, searching by field, term weighting, relevance ranking, citation pearl growing, and precision and recall are all features/strategies that can be used in database searching. Explain each in detail.
- What is meant by relevance feedback and how does it work?
- When should you use specific-to-general search strategy and general-to-specific search strategy? Provide examples and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each and/or the factors that influence which method to use first.
- Where do you start a search? Provide some contexts and examples.
- What makes an excellent searcher? How can you improve your searching skills?
- Bopp, R.E.; & Smith, L.C. (2001). Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. Chapter 4: "Bibliographic Control, Organization of Information, and Search Strategies," pp. 69-96. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. [On reserve in Kent Cooper Room Z711 .R443 2001]
- Mann, T. (2003). "Why LC Subject Headings Are More Important Than Ever." American Libraries 34(9), 52-54.
- Ojala, M. (1998). "Beginning All Over Again: Where to Start a Search." Online 22(3), 44-46.
Lab Topic: Online Catalog
SEPTEMBER 29: SELECTION AND EVALUATION OF REFERNCE SOURCES
- How would you know that a reference book is of a good quality?
- Why is evaluating electronic sources is more challenging than evaluating print sources?
- What are the primary reviewing tools and selection aids for reference materials?
- What are some of the problems associated with review sources?
- How and why are selection tools such as American Reference Book Annual, Choice, and Library Journal, helpful/useful for librarians?
- How does the information professional become competent to review reference sources? What sources, skills, attitudes, and values are needed or necessary for becoming a good reviewer?
- In selecting reference sources, how should controversial subjects be handled?
- Is a reference collection development policy necessary? Why? What type of information does a reference collection development policy include?
- Why are certain types of materials (e.g., Indexes, government documents, ready reference materials, and atlases) shelved separately in some libraries?
- Why would you weed a title from a collection? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?
- What is virtual collection development?
- What are the primary evaluation criteria for web sites?
One of the most important elements of today's topic is the criteria used for evaluating and selecting reference sources. These criteria are helpful both in choosing new titles to purchase for a library and in familiarizing yourself with new material in general. Use the following points as a checklist to be sure you have not overlooked some important features of a reference item:
- Physical Make-up
- Purpose and Scope
- Special Features
- Altschiller, D.; & Wenzel, S.G. (2003). "Finding Book Reviews in Print and Online." Reference & User Services Quarterly 42(3), 193-205.
- Bopp, R.E.; & Smith, L.C. (2001). Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. Chapter 13: "Selection and Evaluation of Reference Sources," pp. 309-330. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. [On reserve in Kent Cooper Room Z711 .R443 2001]
- Natowitz, A.; & Carlo, P.W. (1997). "Evaluating Review Content for Book Selection: An Analysis of American History Reviews in Choice, American Historical Review, and Journal of American History." College & Research Libraries 58(4), 323-336.
- Péter's Digital Reference Shelf.
- Reference Sources handout (see ERes).
- Rettig, J.; & LaGuardia, C. (1999). "Beyond "Beyond Cool": Reviewing Web Resources." Online 23(4), 51-55.
Due: 1) Pathfinder Report I; and 2) Online Catalog exercise (not graded)
Lab Topic: Book reviews
OCTOBER 06: BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES AND SEARCH STRATEGIES
- What are a national bibliography, a trade bibliography, a library catalog, a bibliographic utility, and a union catalog? Provide examples of each.
- What is the National Union Catalog and what happened to it?
- Is the Library of Congress a national library?
- Can you name a few distinguished national libraries?
- What makes a national library national?
- What are the differences between RLIN and WorldCat? Why do reference librarians use them?
- The number of libraries that purchase or use Books in Print is dwindling. Why is that?
- Today, there are hundreds of online book sellers, bookstores, and meta-search engines that provide comparisons of prices. There are also online bookstores that specialize in particular areas, such as out of print books, rare books, and used books. Which dealers, bookstores, and meta-search engines are the best and most reliable?
- RUSA (Reference and User Services Association). (2001). "Guidelines for the Preparation of a Bibliography." Reference & User Services Quarterly 41(2), 115-117.
- Wilson, P. (1992). "Searching: Strategies and Evaluation." In For Information Specialists: Interpretations of Reference and Bibliographic Work, pp. 153-181. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.
Due: 1) Book Reviews lab exercise; and 2) Pathfinder Report II
Lab Topic: WorldCat, Ulrich's, and Dissertation Abstracts
OCTOBER 13: INDEXES AND ABSTRACTS (DATABASES)
- How does an abstract differ from an index as far as access and retrieval are concerned?
- What makes for a good abstracting and indexing service (i.e., a database)?
- How do you decide which database is the best for your needs?
- What is "natural language" or keyword indexing? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of indexing? Provide examples.
- What is "controlled vocabulary" or subject indexing? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of indexing? Provide examples.
- What are the major characteristics and uses of a thesaurus and a subject heading authority file for information retrieval? List advantages and disadvantages.
- What is the purpose of a citation index? In what ways is a citation index valuable in reference work?
- Explain the differences between popular and scholarly literature.
- What is Open URL and how does it work?
- What is Google Book Search and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- What is Google Scholar and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- Online searching is a process that involves several strategies, stages, or tasks. What are they?
- Guide to Library Research. Duke University Libraries.
- Quint, B. (1991a). "Inside a Searcher's Mind: The Seven Stages of an Online Search (Part 1)." Online 15(3), 13-18.
- Quint, B. (1991b). "Inside a Searcher's Mind: The Seven Stages of an Online Search (Part 2)." Online 15(4), 28-35.
- Reference Sources handout (see ERes).
Due: 1) Bibliographic Sources assignment; and 2) WorldCat, Ulrich's, and Dissertation Abstracts lab exercise
Lab Topic: Library and Information Science Databases
OCTOBER 20: ENCYCLOPEDIAS; BIOGRAPHICAL SOURCES
Encyclopedias Discussion Points/Questions:
- Are encyclopedias useful enough that one can push students toward them? Discuss why or why not.
- Are paper encyclopedias dinosaurs? If so, how do you explain the fact that The Encyclopedia of New York City (print) has sold more than 70,000 copies and The Encyclopedia of New Jersey have sold more than 14,000 copies so far?
- What should you look for when choosing an encyclopedia (for research as well as for your own library)?
- What is dynamic reference work? How to cite articles in a dynamic reference work?
- What type(s) of information do people seek in encyclopedias?
- What are the functions of the encyclopedia yearbook?
- Why does an alphabetically arranged print encyclopedia need an index?
- Note that there are specialized subject encyclopedias in every discipline. Select a special subject encyclopedia that interests you and be ready to comment on it in class.
- What are the advantages of electronic encyclopedias over printed ones? Disadvantages?
- Should librarians describe the biased nature of encyclopedias to clients?
Biographical Sources Discussion Points/Questions:
- Describe the different types of biographical sources (directories, dictionaries, current & retrospective, national & international, direct & indirect, and obituaries).
- If you were going to design an electronic source for biographical information, what features would you want to include? How would you limit its contents?
- What are the most important factors which to evaluate a biographical source?
- Davidsson, R.I. (2004). "Providing Genealogy Research Services in Public Libraries: Guidelines and Ethics." Public Libraries, 43(3), 142-144.
- Francis, L.S. (2004). "The Genealogy Search Process." PNLA Quarterly, 68 (3), 12, 22.
- Francis, L.S. (2004). "The Genealogy Reference Interview." PNLA Quarterly, 68(3), 13-15.
- Kister, K.F. (1994). Questions and Answers about Encyclopedias. In his Kister's Best Encyclopedias, pp. 3-20. 2nd ed. Oryx Press.
- Reference Sources handout (see ERes).
Due: 1) Indexes and Abstracts assignment; and 2) LIS databases lab exercise
Lab Topic: Databases I
OCTOBER 27: READY REFERENCE
Ready Reference Sources Discussion Points/Questions:
- What are the most important features of a directory?
- Why are directories often expensive?
- Why is a part of the ready reference collection kept behind the reference desk?
- How or when can the Internet be used as a ready reference tool?
- How can Directories in Print and International Directories in Print be used to select new directories for purchase?
- The basic source for current statistics for the U.S. is the Statistical Abstract. What types of statistics does it contain and where do these statistics come from?
- Many librarians claim that Encyclopedia of Associations is their most valuable reference book. Why do you think they rely so heavily on this title?
- What are the key factors upon which to evaluate a dictionary?
- Describe differences between prescriptive and descriptive philosophies in dictionary construction.
- In what ways could you use the Oxford English Dictionary in reference work? What advantages does the electronic version have over the print version?
- Describe some strategies you might use to locate a quotation if it does not appear in standard sources.
- List a good mix of dictionaries for a small public library (including children's services), a liberal arts college, and a large law firm.
- Does every library need a foreign language dictionary? How do you decide which foreign language dictionary to buy?
- Boorkman, J.A.; Huber, J.T.; & Roper, F.W. (2004). Introduction to Reference Sources in the Health Sciences. 4th ed. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers. [Main Library Reference / Z6658 .I54 2004.] Read the Preface and chapter one.
- McQuade, M. (2003). "Defining a Dictionary." Booklist, 99(18), 1688.
- Reference Sources handout (see ERes).
Due: 1) Encyclopedias and Biographical Sources assignment; and 2) Databases I lab exercise
Lab Topic: Databases II
NOVEMBER 03: GEOGRAPHICAL, GOVERNMENT, AND STATISTICAL SOURCES
Geographical Sources Discussion Points/Questions:
- List and discuss briefly five evaluative criteria to consider when purchasing an atlas.
- What factors should you consider when buying an atlas?
- What is a gazetteer and how can you judge the quality of one?
- What are the pros and cons of web-based atlases and maps?
- What types of information are important in travel guides?
Government Sources Discussion Points/Questions:
- What are FDLP, FirstGov, GPO, GPO Access, SuDocs, and THOMAS? Where else can one find U.S. government information? Name five different sources/tools.
- Where one can find government information about foreign countries? Name a few sources.
Due: 1) Ready Reference, Business, and Health Sources assignment; and 2) Databases II lab exercise
NOVEMBER 10: INFORMATION ETHICS; REFERENCE SERVICES FOR SPECIFIC POPULATIONS; ARCHIVES, MUSEUMS, AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
- To Be Generated By Students
- Bopp, R.E.; & Smith, L.C. (2001). Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. Chapter 2: "Ethical Aspects of Reference Service," pp. 28-46. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. [On reserve in Kent Cooper Room Z711 .R443 2001]
- Bopp, R.E.; & Smith, L.C. (2001). Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. Chapter 12: "Reference Services for Specific Populations," pp. 279-306. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. [On reserve in Kent Cooper Room Z711 .R443 2001]
- Jimerson, R.C. (2003). "Archives and Manuscripts: Reference, Access, and Use." OCLC Systems & Services, 19(1), 13-16.
- Miller-Gatenby, K.J.; & Chittenden, M. (2000). "Reference Services for All: How to Support Reference Service to Clients With Disabilities." The Reference Librarian, no. 69/70, 313-326.
- Tinerella, V.P.; & Dick, M.A. (2005). "Academic Reference Service for the Visually Impaired: A Guide for the Non-Specialist." College & Research Libraries News 66(1), 29-32.
Due: 1) Pathfinder Report III
NOVEMBER 17: INFORMATION LITERACY, BIBLIOGRAPHIC INSTRUCTION, AND EVALUATION OF REFERENCE SERVICES
- What are the major objectives of each of the following types of instruction: library orientation, library instruction, bibliographic instruction, and information literacy instruction?
- One of the main goals of instruction programs and courses is to create a more self-reliant library user and information-seeker. Do instruction programs lead to a decline in the demand for reference services or in the number of reference questions? WHY?
- Why is an evaluation of instruction programs necessary? How can you evaluate a program?
- How long should an instruction session or program be?
- To develop and implement a good instruction session or program, one has to:
- Identify and understand the characteristics of the audience
- Discover the needs of the audience
- Provide comfortable physical environment for the audience and the instructor
- Assume the existence of differences among members of the audience (in terms of skills & knowledge)
- Identify the goals and objectives of the program
- Prepare for instruction
- Determine the teaching style to use (see best practices below)
- Incorporate different learning styles:
- Active learning (e.g., in-class discussion)
- Learning by exploring (e.g., in-class and take-home assignments)
- Learning by reflection (e.g., reference interview, collection development, and pathfinder)
- Demonstration (in-class activities)
- Collaborative learning (e.g., group work and activities)
- Simulation-based learning (e.g., in-class reference interview)
- Real-life examples (e.g., reference interview and pathfinder)
- Relevant instruction
Reference Services Evaluation Discussion Points/Questions:
- What kind of services do reference professionals or departments offer?
- Why should you evaluate reference services and what do you evaluate? (collections, services, librarians)
- Discuss the accuracy of the 55% rule and the research behind it.
- Why don't reference librarians provide correct answers to some questions?
- Why do some users end up not having a good experience with reference librarians?
- What remedies can you suggest for some of the problems that contribute to patrons' dissatisfaction with reference librarians?
- Are there any differences in terms of success or failure between academic and public libraries as far as answering reference questions are concerned?
- List the five most important reasons why you would be willing to return to the same librarian with another question and the five most important reasons why you wouldn't.
- Bopp, R.E.; & Smith, L.C. (2001). Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. Chapter 10: "Evaluation of Reference Services," pp. 245-264. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. [On reserve in Kent Cooper Room Z711 .R443 2001]
- Dewdney, P.; & Ross, C.S. (1994). "Flying a Light Aircraft: Reference Service Evaluation from a User's Viewpoint." RQ 34(2), 217-230.
- Richardson, J.V. (2002). "Reference Is Better Than We Thought." Library Journal 127(7), 41-42.
- Saunders, E.S. (2003). "The Effect of Bibliographic Instruction on the Demand for Reference Services." Portal: Libraries and the Academy 3(1), 35-39.
- Saunders, L. (2002). "Teaching the Library: Best Practices." Library Philosophy and Practice, 4(2), 8 pages.
Due: 1) Geographical, Government, and Statistical Sources assignment
DECEMBER 01: VIRTUAL REFERENCE SERVICES AND EVAUATION
Virtual Reference Discussion Points/Questions:
- What is virtual reference service? Provide some examples.
- Why are some virtual reference services better than others?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of virtual reference services?
- Do academic libraries offer virtual reference services to unaffiliated users?
- What guidelines are set by RUSA for implementing and maintaining virtual reference services?
- Who are the main players in virtual reference research and services?
Virtual Reference Services Discussion Points/Questions:
- What is VRD, QuestionPoint, 24/7 Reference, and AskA? For an index of virtual reference softwares that are currently used by libraries, see: Index of Virtual Reference Software. For weblogs, see: Google's Directory of weblog sites.
- What is the Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS) and how does it work?
- Why is CDRS better than Ask Jeeves, Webhelp.com, and other similar Internet-based reference services?
- Digital Reference listservs: most well-known is DIG_REF. To subscribe to DIG_REF:
- Send an e-mail message to: LISTSERV@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- In the first line of the message, type: SUBSCRIBE DIG_REF Firstname Lastname
Instant Messaging (or Chat) Reference Discussion Points/Questions:
- What is instant messaging, how does it work, and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- How many people use it and for what types of questions?
- How is it different from traditional face-to-face, telephone, or e-mail reference service in terms of the initial question asked, the location of the patrons, and expectations or assumptions of the technical skills and general knowledge of the patrons?
- In traditional reference services, body-language, librarians' attitudes, patron hesitation to interrupt busy librarians, previous good/bad experiences, and so on determine a patron's willingness to return. What are the IM characteristics that might affect patrons's willingness to return?
- Coffman, S.; & Arret, L. (2004b). "To Chat Not to Chat: Taking Yet Another Look at Virtual Reference." The Searcher: The Magazine for Database Professionals 12(8), 49-56.
- Desai, C.M. (2003). "Instant Messaging Reference: How Does It Compare?" The Electronic Library, 21(1), 21-30.
- Stacy-Bates, K. (2003). "E-mail Reference Responses from Academic ARL Libraries: An Unobtrusive Study." Reference & User Services Quarterly 43(1), 59-70.
- Zanin-Yost, A. (2004). "Digital Reference: What the Past Has Taught Us and What the Future Will Hold." Library Philosophy and Practice 7(1), 16 pages.
Due: Pathfinder Project
DECEMBER 08: DISCUSSION OF FINAL PROJECT; FUTURE OF REFERENCE
- Bates, M.J. (1989). The Design of Browsing and Berrypicking Techniques for the Online Search Interface. Online Review 13(5), 407-424.
- Belkin, N.J.; Oddy, R.N.; & Brooks, H.M. (1982). ASK for Information-Retrieval 1: Background and Theory. Journal of Documentation, 38(2), 61-71.
- Belkin, N.J.; Oddy, R.N.; & Brooks, H.M. (1982). ASK for Information-Retrieval 2: Results of a Design Study. Journal of Documentation, 38(3), 145-164.
- Borgman, C.L. (1996). Why Are Online Catalogs Still Hard To Use. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 47(7), 493-503.
- Byström, K., & Järvelin, K. (1995). Task Complexity Affects Information Seeking and Use. Information Processing & Management, 31(2), 191-213.
- Dervin, B.; & Dewdney, P. (1986). Question-Negotiation and Information-Seeking in Libraries. RQ 25, 506-513.
- Hernon, P.; & McClure, C.R. (1986). "Unobtrusive Reference Testing: The 55-Percent Rule. Library Journal, 111(7), 37-41.
- Ingwersen, P. (1982). Search Procedures in the Library: Analyzed from the Cognitive Point of View. Journal of Documentation, 38(3), 165-191.
- Ingwersen, P. (1996). Cognitive Perspectives of Information-Retrieval Interaction: Elements of a Cognitive IR Theory. Journal of Documentation, 52(1), 3-50.
- Kuhlthau, C.C. (1991). Inside the Search Process: Information Seeking from the User's Perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42, 361-371.
- Marchionini, G. (1989). Information-Seeking Strategies of Novices Using a Full-text Electronic Encyclopedia. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 40(1), 54-66.
- Saracevic, T., & Kantor, P. (1988). A Study of Information Seeking and Retrieving. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 39(3), 161-216.
- Taylor, Robert S. (1968). Question-Negotiation and Information Seeking in Libraries. College & Research Libraries, 178-194.
Journals and Reference Sources to Browse
In addition to the required readings for each class, I encourage you to make a habit of browsing recent issues of the following journals (all are available online through the University's online catalog) and Internet sources:
- Library Journal
- College and Research Libraries
- Information Today
- Reference and User Services Quarterly
- Reference Services Review
- Searcher: The Magazine for Database Professionals