Reference Mode Preferences of Community College (Two-Year) and Four-Year College Students: A Comparison Study

John Carey, Ajatshatru Pathak



Objective – The purpose of this study was to examine the reference service mode preferences of community college (two-year) and four-year college students.

Methods – The researchers administered a paper-based, face-to-face questionnaire at two institutions within the City University of New York system: Hunter College, a senior college, and Queensborough Community College, a two-year institution. During the summer of 2015, the researchers surveyed 79 participants, asking them to identify their most and least preferred mediums for accessing library reference services.

Results – Nearly 75% of respondents expressed a preference for face-to-face reference, while only about 18% preferred remote reference services (online chat, e-mail, text message, and telephone). Close to 84% of the participants cited remote reference services as their least preferred modes and slightly more than 10% said this of face-to-face. The data reveal a widespread popularity of face-to-face reference service among all types of participants regardless of institutional affiliation, age, gender, academic level, field of study, and race or ethnicity.

Conclusion – This study suggests that given the opportunity academic library users will utilize face-to-face reference service for assistance with research assignments. Academic libraries at both two-year and four-year institutions might consider assessing user views on reference modes and targeting support toward services that align with patron preferences.


reference services; reference mode preferences; community college students; face-to-face reference; online chat reference; e-mail reference; text messaging reference;

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