"It's research made easier!" SMS and chat reference perceptions

Margie Ruppel, Amy Vecchione

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to discover how college students perceive text messaging reference (SMS), chat reference, and face-to-face reference services. Design/methodology/approach: The authors administered surveys about chat, text messaging (SMS), and face-to-face reference to students enrolled in a one-credit library skills course. Survey results focus on users' willingness to return, their perceptions of chat and text messaging (SMS) reference, and the reasons they choose to utilize different communication mediums for reference service. Findings: College students value the availability of high-quality, quick, convenient, personalized reference assistance, regardless of medium used. Practical implications: Academic libraries can personalize reference services, but also need to offer ways for patrons to ask questions anonymously. Social implications: Robust communication contributes to the perceived usefulness and success of library reference services. Effective reference service provided at the point-of-need helps build positive student-librarian relationships. Originality/value: This study aims to contribute to reference services research by bringing new technology into consideration. It focuses on two technologies (chat and SMS reference) in light of another available method (in-person reference desk). This study is based on a 2002 study about patron perceptions of chat reference (Ruppel and Fagan), which is compared to the current study's results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-448
Number of pages26
JournalReference Services Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Chat
  • Online reference
  • Reference services
  • SMS
  • Students
  • Texting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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