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American Library Association Annual Meeting 2017

This guide contains the ALA 2017 Poster Presentation by NCU Librarians.

Literature Review

The provision of library research consultations dates back to at least the 1970s (Cordell, 2013), though it is quite possible that librarians have been doing this on an informal basis since the earliest days of the profession. However, research consultations are rarely documented in the scholarly literature. Savage (2015) found that within the last ten years, research consultations were mentioned in less than 1% of LIS articles, and even fewer of those mention assessment. Fournier and Sikora (2015), in their retrospective scoping review of the literature, identified just 20 research articles that mentioned assessing individual consultations. With no governing professional standards for research consultations, it is plausible that librarians either overlook the value of this service, or lump consultations into general reference practices.

It was not until quite recently that we started to see occasional evidence that the traditional research consultation has made the transition to the virtual environment (Bennett, 2017; Lietzau & Mann, 2009; Malone, 2015; Pastula, 2010; Steiner, 2011). Steiner (2011) describes the goal of virtual research consultations to “combine the virtual learning landscape of students working entirely online with an exemplary instructional reference service traditionally offered strictly physically in a face-to-face environment” (p. 440). Undergoing a review of library websites for the 19 institutions included on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of Up-and-Coming national universities, Neilson (2014) found that only four of the schools offered online research consultations for distance-learning students.    

The literature indicates that an opportunity certainly exists to make virtual research consultations more widely adopted as a distinct reference service, and further, to measure the impact of this service.     

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