Skip to main content
E-mail Reference Responses from Academic ARL Libraries: An Unobtrusive Study
Reference & User Services Quarterly
  • Kristine K. Stacy-Bates, Iowa State University
Document Type
Publication Date
E-mail reference connects patrons with reference service providers who can find answers for them. How accurate are the responses to e-mail questions? How firm are libraries' guidelines for time of response, type of questions addressed, and category of user whose questions will be answered through e-mail reference? This article examines e-mail reference services provided by academic libraries in the Association of Research Libraries (111 sites). Sets of three pretested e-mail reference queries were sent to each of these libraries during February 2001. Twenty-one assessment questions were used to record characteristics of the e-mail reference service pages and characteristics of responses to the reference queries; comparisons were made between service policies as stated and as practiced. Assessment questions covered the topics of e-mail reference policies, services to nonaffiliates, elements of reference interviews, features of reference service enabled by the e-mail medium, and accuracy of query answers.

This article is from Reference & User Services Quarterly 43 (2003): 59–70. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner
American Library Association
File Format
Citation Information
Kristine K. Stacy-Bates. "E-mail Reference Responses from Academic ARL Libraries: An Unobtrusive Study" Reference & User Services Quarterly Vol. 43 Iss. 12 (2003) p. 59 - 70
Available at: