Reference Question Investigation

Have you ever asked a reference question, listened to the answer, walked away from the reference librarian and wondered if the answer you received was a)  the correct answer  b) the most complete answer you could have received and, c) and that your question was really understood?

Let's do an experiment.  Invent a reference question (HINT:  create a question to ask an information professional on a topic that interests you e.x. a hobby ).    Take that question and ask it at three different reference service points:

1.  At a reference desk in a public or academic library.

2.  Send your question in an email message to a reference desk that accepts email reference correspondence -OR -
ask your question in a live reference chat session (many academic libraries now offer this service.)

3.  Send your question to a commercial service, e.x. Ask Jeeves, Ask a Librarian, Internet Public Library, etc.

Now, take good notes 'cause you are going to be evaluating each answer you receive and determining which service worked the best for you (met your expectations).

For each answer, evaluate the following criteria:
1.  How lengthy was the "reference interview"?
2.  Was the exchange pleasant?
3.  How many tools were used to arrive at the answer (how many were cited by the information professional)?
4.  To the best of your knowledge, is the answer correct?
5.  What would you do differently in answering this question if you were the information professional?
6.  In a few words, share your overall reaction to the interaction.