Electronic Reference Options: How They Stack Up in Research Libraries

By Tenopir, Carol; Neufang, Ralf | Online, March 1992 | Go to article overview

Electronic Reference Options: How They Stack Up in Research Libraries


Tenopir, Carol, Neufang, Ralf, Online


Electronic reference in a variety of forms is becoming a reality in libraries today. Whether it is online, CD-ROM, or databases loaded from magnetic tapes or a combination of several options, patrons have access to more electronic resources than ever before. We recently surveyed research libraries in the U.S. and Canada to see which electronic reference options they offer. ARL libraries may not be typical because they tend to be heavy users of technology and have relatively large budgets, but they can be considered trendsetters. What these libraries are offering now will be found in all types of libraries within the next few years.

Academic and other research libraries have been in the forefront of electronic database access since online searching first became available in the early 1970s. They were some of the first libraries to offer intermediary online services, and by 1979 almost half (49%) of academic research libraries offered intermediary services [1]. In the mid-1980s some research libraries added end-user online searching on systems such as BRS/After Dark or DIALOG's Knowledge Index [2]. These systems usually supplemented, but did not replace, intermediary search services.

CD-ROM databases were added to reference departments starting in the mid-1980s. By 1987 approximately 30% of academic libraries in the United States had databases on CD-ROM [3]. In just one more year the percentage increased to almost 60%.

Although it predates even online intermediary searching, end-user searching of databases loaded on an in-house computer has become popular with the recent widespread use of online public access catalogs (OPACs). An increasing number of database producers are entering into agreements with OPAC vendors so magnetic tapes of reference databases will be compatible with a library's OPAC [4]. A 1990 survey by ALA found about 8% to 35% of all academic libraries had databases loaded on their OPACs [5]. The low end was for two-year and liberal arts colleges; the high end for doctorate-granting institutions.

Many research libraries now offer two or even three or four of electronic options for database searching. In May 1991 we surveyed the libraries that are members of the Association for Research Libraries (ARL) to discover how many offer each four electronic options and how the addition of each new option impacts the others. We also asked for information on what the libraries are offering now and what they plan to do in the future.

This article presents the survey results and paints a factual picture of electronic reference in 1991 in ARL libraries. In addition to the facts," many respondents responded with detailed comments about how electronic reference sources are changing their libraries, their workload, and their users. In a later article we will discuss these issues based on more in-depth interviews with selected librarians.

THE SURVEY POPULATION

Surveys were sent in May 1991 to the 119 ARL members. Of these, 96 (81%) responded [6]. The Association of Research Libraries is an organization of libraries that have research as a primary mission. According to the Encyclopedia of Associations, its goal is to "identify and solve problems fundamental to large research libraries so that the libraries may effectively serve the needs of students, faculty, and the research community; to strengthen and extend the capacity of member libraries; to provide the recorded information needed, both now and in the future, by the research community" [7].

The members are mostly university libraries, with a few large public, government, and other special libraries. More than half the libraries that responded to our questionnaire serve constituencies of 20,000 or more (including students, faculty, or researchers), and have six or more branch libraries.

Online catalogs are common in these libraries - 94 of the 96 responding libraries (98%) have their catalogs online. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Electronic Reference Options: How They Stack Up in Research Libraries
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.