This study applied traditional categories used for classifying questions presented at reference desks to online reference services. Questions presented at Penn State's subject libraries were classified as 'Where Is,' 'Troubleshooting,' 'Policy and Service,' and 'Reference.' Definitions and examples were provided to the librarians and staff covering thirteen reference desks. These categories were then applied to Penn State's e-mail and chat reference transactions for the Fall 2002 semester. Although the types of questions were similar across the three services, there were differences in the proportion of questions by categories. This suggests that services have similar, yet distinct, functions and that the type of questions submitted differ between in-person and online and also between e-mail and chat.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Library and Information Sciences