Service equality in virtual reference

Pnina Shachaf, Shannon M. Oltmann, Sarah M. Horowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Research is divided about the potential of e-service to bridge communication gaps, particularly to diverse user groups. According to the existing body of literature, e-service may either increase or decrease the quality of service received. This study analyzes the level of service received by different genders and ethnic groups when academic and public librarians answered 676 online reference queries. Quality of e-service was evaluated along three dimensions: timely response, reliability, and courtesy. This study found no significant differences among different user groups along any of these dimensions, supporting the argument that the virtual environment facilitates equitable service and may overcome some challenges of diverse user groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-550
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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