Horah, Jan L. The Evolution of a Library Database: From Cards to the Web. Searcher 6 (May 1998), 56-61.
Change is a factor that must be taken into consideration in any type of library. The library in this study belonged to a real estate office. After deciding to create a library database from its cards in 1990, the library soon became out of date because the database was in DOS. After its second update, the system was searchable by subject, journal and article title, keyword, and date. But, now the problem was that the program could only search one year at a time. Yet another upgrade took place in 1993, allowing the database to increase yearly. Finally, in 1997, the database moved to the Web and became accessible through telnet.
Each upgrade added new features but required added training on the part of the staff and the user. The company is now exploring methods for document delivery and full-text searching. Seven years proved to be quite an evolutionary process.
Sloan, Bernie. Service Perspectives for the Digital Library Remote Reference Services. Library Trends 47 (Summer 1998), 117+.
The digital library has become an important resource to the user, allowing him/her to do research from home. However, there are many considerations for the librarian who must work remotely from the user. In researching this topic, the author found that service seemed to be left out of all definitions of a digital library. Since libraries have typically been defined as bringing humans and knowledge together, there must be some consideration for the role of the individual. Most writers on this human subject believe that librarians will continue to be mediators in the digital age, teaching and facilitating as users learn new software. They will still organize, develop policy, work as partners with the users, and serve as consultants. A number of projects have attempted to use videoconferencing and other means to project an image of the librarian on the screen to make the reference interview more personal. But with the lack of technology and self-consciousness of people on camera, these projects have not been effective.
Therefore, email reference appears to be the more preferred. While convenience is the best feature, limitations include lost time between messages, loss of message richness, and system instability. In research institutions, graduate students and faculty, in that order, were the primary users, asking mostly standard reference questions and questions related to library services and policies. Most questions occurred during regular library hours and came from campus offices. The article includes a list of reference forms from 15 college and university libraries in the United States and Canada. It is hoped through this study that the user can ask questions by use of the reference form but be able to interact with the librarian via interactive video to receive the personal touch.
Green, Denise D. and Janis K. Peach. Assessment of Reference Instruction as a Teaching and Learning Activity: An Experiment at the University of Illinois-Springfield. College & Research Libraries News 64 (April 2003), 256-258.
Reference instruction differs from bibliographic instruction in that the librarian does not prepare specific information ahead of time to help the patron in reference instruction. While most reference service is measured in tally counts, this experiment attempted to determine level of instruction acquired in a medium-sized academic library. Previous research evaluated accuracy of information and patron satisfaction, so this experiment goes one step farther. With the controversy between teaching faculty and faculty librarians at many institutions, this experiment would serve to validate the teaching role of the librarian. Results showed that 92% of those surveyed felt that they had learned something new about doing research, and 95% believed they had learned more about using library resources. Similar figures were recorded for the patrons confidence in the knowledge of the librarians, and most patrons felt that they were more comfortable using library materials and would return to do more research in the future.