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.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kris_stacybates/5/