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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to compare established reference interview guidelines (RUSA) with actual reference provider behaviors in remote reference transactions. The data is used to argue that specific reference interview “best practice standards” should be developed for remote access reference services.

Design/methodology/approach: Remote reference transactions were examined for evidence of adherence, or not, to the RUSA guidelines and behaviors. The transcripts were also coded for showing evidence, or not, of user satisfaction.

Findings: Data from 1,435 virtual reference transcripts shows that in 82% of the reference sessions the user found the information needed. Analysis also shows that librarian compliance with RUSA-recommended reference interview behaviors, especially in the areas of Listening/Inquiring and Searching is frequently poor – possibly due to time constraints.


vanDuinkerken, Wyoma, Stephens, Jane and MacDonald, Karen. “The Chat Reference Interview: Seeking Evidence Based on RUSA Guidelines: A Case Study at Texas A&M University Libraries.” New Library World, 110:3/4 (2009): 107 - 121.

Cited as a Highly Commended Paper in the Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2010

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