Information-Seeking Behavior and Reference Medium Preferences

Anthony S. Chow, Rebecca A. Croxton

Abstract


This study examined the information seeking preferences of 936 university faculty, staff, students, and librarians at a doctoral granting institution in the southeastern United States. Participants were asked to identify in what way they would prefer having both factual and research questions answered by the library. Findings suggest participants preferred face-to-face reference interactions over a suite of virtual reference options. In the aggregate, e-mail was the preferred virtual reference service over telephone and online chat with little interest in text messaging or Skype video. Statistically significant differences among users, however, emerged when interactions between type of question, age, race, and gender were considered. Faculty and staff preferred e-mail and telephone while students preferred online chat and, to a lesser extent, text messaging. Implications of the study suggest user preferences appear to be significantly influenced by demographic factors and type of question. Different library reference support strategies may need to be designed and implemented to meet those needs.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5860/rusq.51n3.246

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