“I’ve Already Googled It, and I Can’t Understand It”: User’s Perceptions of Virtual Reference and Social Question-Answering Sites

Vanessa L. Kitzie, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Marie L. Radford


For librarians to continually demonstrate superior and high-quality service, they must meet the needs of current and potential users. One way that librarians have met the needs of users is by expanding their service offerings online via virtual reference services (VRS). This expansion is particularly critical in the current time of COVID-19. To provide high-quality VRS service, librarians can learn from social question-answering (SQA) sites, whose popularity reflect changing user expectations, motivations, use, and assessment of information. Informed by interviews with 51 users and potential users of both platforms this research examines how strengths from SQA can be leveraged in VRS, and what can be learned from SQA practices to reach potential library users. This study represents one of the few comparisons between VRS and SQA that exist in the literature.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5860/rusq.59.3/4.7721


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