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SMS reference: myths, markers, and modalities

Pearce, Alexa and Collard, Scott and Whatley, Kara M. (2010) SMS reference: myths, markers, and modalities. Reference Services Review, 38 (2). pp. 250-263. ISSN 0090-7324. doi:10.1108/00907321011045016.

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Purpose: This paper seeks to create an empirical framework for SMS reference services so that libraries may develop a greater understanding of how this service operates and how it may be improved. Design/methodology/approach: The paper conducted a quantitative analysis of 577 SMS transactions, representing 628 reference questions, received during the 2008‐2009 academic year. Each transaction was coded by type of question, transaction length in messages or “events,” and transaction duration in time. Findings: SMS transactions exhibit a higher than expected degree of variability in total number of events, duration and content. Overall, duration of transaction averaged 4.34 hours, and number of events per transaction averaged 3.79. Calculating separately for those transactions that contained a reference query – which comprises 40 percent of the total questions received – noticeably altered the results. The duration of reference queries averaged 4.85 hours, while the number of events averaged 4.65. Where reference queries occurred there was a high incidence of user expressions of gratitude, regardless of duration or number of events exchanged. These results support the conclusion that users do not expect a purely synchronous service, though faster response time and thoroughness of answer do show a relationship with higher user satisfaction. Originality/value: Many of the findings of the study challenge currently held assumptions and impressions regarding the nature and potential of SMS reference services in academic libraries.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Pearce, Alexa0000-0002-7185-6485
Collard, Scott0000-0001-8584-4701
Whatley, Kara M.0000-0002-5684-1875
Additional Information:© 2010 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Group:Library System Papers and Publications
Subject Keywords:Mobile communication systems; Academic libraries; Reference services; United States of America
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220518-114103700
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Pearce, A., Collard, S. and Whatley, K. (2010), "SMS reference: myths, markers, and modalities", Reference Services Review, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 250-263.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:114797
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 May 2022 16:23
Last Modified:19 May 2022 16:23

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