Research Output

Distributed expertise: remote reference service on a metropolitan area network.

  What is the nature of reference work in the digital library? What is the role of the reference librarian where many users serve themselves by means of BIDS and other free-at-point-of-use services which emulate the Bath original (e.g. MIDAS in Manchester and EDINA in Edinburgh)? How is the concept of the ‘reference desk’ to be defined where points of presence for both users and librarians are distributed? Can assumptions based on specialist roles and fixed locations migrate to the world of virtual reference work? An Edinburgh-based research project is exploring these issues in the context of the enhanced regional communications now available through EaStMAN (Edinburgh and Stirling Metropolitan Area Network). A major goal is for local HE institutions to explore the possibilities afforded for collaborative reference work. The project team have completed preliminary work with the BIOSIS Abstracts service hosted by the EDINA consortium. In this paper, we present the results of an investigation of the experiences of users and the work patterns of librarians and relate these to the design rationale of a prototype Web-based network reference consultation support system. Our focus here is on typologies of user problems and expert response across various media and genres of interaction. A pilot service is scheduled to start in the autumn of 1997 and we plan to report on its use at a later date.

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  • Date:

    30 November 1996

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  • Library of Congress:

    Z665 Library Science. Information Science


Davenport, E., Procter, R. & Goldenberg, A. (1996). Distributed expertise: remote reference service on a metropolitan area network. Electronic Library. 15, 271-278. doi:10.1108/eb045567. ISSN 0264-0473



digital library; reference librarian; virtual environment; EaStMAN; users; work patterns; Web-based network reference consultation support system;

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