Analysis of Question Type Can Help Inform Chat Staffing Decisions

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18438/eblip29727

Abstract

A Review of:

Meert-Williston, D., & Sandieson, R. (2019). Online Chat Reference: Question Type and the Implication for Staffing in a Large Academic Library. The Reference Librarian, 60(1), 51-61. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02763877.2018.1515688

Abstract

Objective – Determine the type of online chat questions to help inform staffing decisions for chat reference service considering their library’s service mandate.

Design – Content analysis of consortial online chat questions.

Setting – Large academic library in Canada.

Subjects – Analysis included 2,734 chat question transcripts.

Methods – The authors analyzed chat question transcripts from patrons at the institution for the period of time from September 2013 to August 2014.  The authors coded transcripts by question type using a coding tool created by the authors. For transcripts that fit more than one question type, the authors chose the most prominent type.

Main Results – The authors coded the chat questions as follows: service (51%), reference (25%), citation (9%), technology (7%), and miscellaneous (8%). The majority of service questions were informational, followed by account related questions.  Most of the reference chat questions were ready reference with only 16% (4% of the total number of chat questions) being in-depth. After removing miscellaneous questions, those that required a high level of expertise (in-depth reference, instructional, copyright, or citation) equaled 19%.

Conclusion – At this institution, one in five chat questions needed a high level of expertise.  Library assistants with sufficient expertise could effectively answer circulation and general reference questions.  With training they could triage complex questions.

 

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Author Biography

Heather MacDonald, Carleton University

Health and Biosciences Librarian

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Published

2020-06-15

How to Cite

MacDonald, H. (2020). Analysis of Question Type Can Help Inform Chat Staffing Decisions. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 15(2), 156-158. https://doi.org/10.18438/eblip29727

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Section

Evidence Summaries