University Libraries Faculty Publications


Chat Transcript Analysis: Librarians vs. Student Assistants

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How effective are student reference assistants at answering chat reference questions as compared to professional librarians? That’s the question we were asking ourselves at Bowling Green State University when we realized that a high percent of our chat reference questions were research based. Should we be letting our student assistants staff this service? To help us answer these questions, we evaluated 150 chat reference transcripts using a 13 question rubric. Our analysis indicated that librarians generally did a better job than student assistants answering chat reference questions, especially when it came to research based questions, but we also determined our undergraduate student assistants to be quite competent chat reference service providers! In some evaluative areas (i.e. building rapport and closing statements), student assistants scored as well, or nearly as well, as librarians; however, we also identified areas (i.e. completeness of answer & appropriate referrals) where additional training is needed.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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Virtual Conference of the biennial meeting of the Association of College and Research Libraries