Archive for June, 2014

Student preferences for different forms of reference

Friday, June 27th, 2014

A very interesting article came out in CRL last month, entitled “A Usability Evaluation of Academic Virtual Reference Services“. Studies were done at two American universities comparing students’ experiences with and preferences for various forms of reference service, with extremely positive results for AskAway-style online chat.

Well worth a read:

Update to Descriptive and Resolution Codes

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

We have recently updated the Resolution and Descriptive Codes page to provide a clearer explanation of which codes should be applied in which situations. The page outlines the codes that are available, with explanations for when they should be applied.

You can find it here:

Descriptive codes provide valuable information about the kinds of questions that come into the service. They provide concrete facts about how the service is used, which can help institutions make decisions. And they can give some surprising results.

For example, it’s commonly assumed that chat reference mainly receives circulation and directional questions. But if you look at the data, the majority of AskAway questions by far are in-depth research — while circulation and directional combined amount to just 10% of our sessions.

Spring 2014 Descriptive Codes

Up to four descriptive codes can be applied to a given chat, which can provide a very complete picture of how the service is used. At present the codes are applied to between 60% and 70% of sessions. The closer we get to 100%, the more complete an understanding we can achieve.

For a fuller explanation of how to apply resolution and descriptive codes and what they can tell us, please see this earlier post: