E-JASL: The Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship


Date of this Version

Fall 2003

Document Type



Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship (Fall 2003) 4(2-3). Also available at http://southernlibrarianship.icaap.org/content/v04n03/Hill_j01.htm.


Copyright 2003, the authors. Used by permission.


Historically, libraries have routinely evaluated their reference services both quantitatively and qualitatively. With the increasing volume of digital reference transactions, there is a need to modify and apply to digital reference, the same evaluation techniques that have been used successfully in the evaluation of traditional reference service. At Southeastern Louisiana University, a recent evaluation of the library's Ask a Librarian digital reference service included an unobtrusive observation of current practice through a detailed examination of archived reference transactions, as well as an assessment of future needs through a survey of users. Through this evaluation, it was possible to assess the effectiveness of the library's e-mail reference service, as well as to plan for the implementation of a new real-time digital reference service.