September 30, 2014

Research Paper: A Usability Evaluation of Academic Virtual Reference Services (Preprint)

share save 171 16 Research Paper: A Usability Evaluation of Academic Virtual Reference Services (Preprint)

The following article was recently accepted for publication in the May 2014 issue of C&RL (College and Research Libraries).

Title

A Usability Evaluation of Academic Virtual Reference Services

Authors

Anthony S. Chow
Department of Library and Information Studies
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, School of Education

Rebecca A. Croxton
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, School of Education

Date

Accepted for Publication: January 2013
Anticipated Publication Date: May 1, 2014

Source

College and Research Libraries Website

Abstract

This study examined the usability of five virtual reference services – instant messenger chat, email, telephone, text-messaging, and Skype video conferencing – by having 31 undergraduate and graduate students evaluate the usability of the virtual reference services of two different universities. The study’s results suggest that user preference and satisfaction for virtual reference service are highly correlated with the service’s overall usability in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Online chat was rated highest across all measures including satisfaction and seven different usability factors. Major implications of the study suggest that online chat is the virtual reference of choice for university students and that usability metrics are a good predictor of user preferences centered on high return on investment, speed of transaction, convenience, and minimal effort.

Direct to Full Text Article (29 pages; PDF; Preprint)

share save 171 16 Research Paper: A Usability Evaluation of Academic Virtual Reference Services (Preprint)
Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.