Type of Document Dissertation Author Hodges, Ruth A. URN etd-11142006-210810 Title The Impact of Collaborative Tools on Digital Reference Users: An Exploratory Study Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Information Studies, College of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Gary Burnett Committee Chair Corinne Jorgensen Committee Member Rodney Roberts Committee Member Thomas L. Hart Committee Member Keywords
- Information Retrieval
- Computer Supported Cooperative Work
- Collaborative Tools
- Collaborative Cooperative Work
- Digital Reference
- Computer-Mediated Communication
- Virtual Reference
Date of Defense 2006-09-08 Availability unrestricted AbstractDigital reference is a library question and answering service available via the Internet.
Digital reference services provide information seekers access to a variety of resources and
services to better facilitate information seekers in meeting their needs. In many services
librarians interact with users synchronously using chat communication technologies, which
incorporate co-browsing/escorting, and Web page pushing features. These collaborative features
enable participants to see each otherís desktops and engage in more personalized and interactive
information seeking activities. User-librarian interactions are captured by computer server logs, stored, and retrieved as digital transcripts.
Currently, there is little research on how information seekers benefit from collaborative
digital reference encounters. To fill this gap, this dissertation aims to better understand
information seekers participating in collaborative digital reference activities such as cobrowsing/escorting and Web page pushing as reflected in the transcripts.
This is a case study designed to explore and understand information seekers interacting in
a digital reference environment. The research assesses transactional and narrative data involving digital reference users affiliated with a large university library in the United States. The study was conducted in four phases. Phase I consisted of document analysis, including a review of the host libraryís Web site and related documents pertaining to the chat digital reference service. Phase II consisted of chat transcript collection, isolation, and preparation of the study sample.
Phase III consisted of pilot testing and final analysis of chat digital reference transcripts. Phase IV of the study consisted of standardized opened-ended interviews of users who participated in co-browsing/escorting related activities during their chat digital reference encounter.
This study is significant because transcripts can be reused to unobtrusively assess digital
reference transactions in order to gain knowledge about users and their service needs. It is possible that transactional and narrative data might be used to derive a cognitive model of digital reference users. Knowledge gained can be used to better inform the digital reference service providers, which may enable them to design a more user-oriented digital reference service.
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