Practitioner experiences in academic research libraries: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of reference work Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Van Scoy, Amy Dianne
    • Affiliation: School of Information and Library Science
  • This study explores the phenomenon of reference work from the perspective of practitioners. The objectives are to analyze in-depth the attitudes, values, beliefs, stories, and thoughts of a group of academic reference librarians working in the research library context; to identify commonalities and diversity of experience among the participants; and to relate these experiences to the intellectual traditions that have been explored in the literature. Reference work is often studied and taught as a series of behaviors. Standards for reference work, such as the RUSA Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers, and evaluation studies tend to focus on specific behaviors. While the behaviors that constitute reference work are important to examine, understand and assess, they do not account for a complete understanding of the phenomenon. The concept of reference work as understood by practicing reference librarians is also an important dimension. In other professions, such as teaching, counseling, nursing, and social work, decades of research on practitioner beliefs have contributed to a rich understanding of how professionals approach their work. This understanding has been used to improve professional education and continuing education. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), a method fairly new to library and information science (LIS), the study interprets the experience of reference work for eight academic research librarians. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analyzed following the multi-stage IPA analysis process. Five themes emerged from the data to express the experience of reference work for this group: importance of the user, variety and uncertainty, fully engaged practice, sensations of reference work, and sense of self as reference professional.
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  • partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Information and Library Science.
  • Moran, Barbara

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