ERIC Number: ED449822
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Jul
Reference Service in Law Libraries.
Sasala, Kathleen M.
Ten law librarians, at one private and three academic law libraries, were studied to ascertain what types of reference services they provide to their patrons. The current model employed in public libraries today was used as the baseline against which to measure these legal reference services. This model employs five traditional categories of: directional questions, bibliographic verification, ready reference questions, true reference questions, and research assistance. When asked the open-ended question of what types of reference service they provide, all of the librarians could fit their services into one or two of the traditional classifications. Although there are gray areas between such services as ready reference and true reference, and true reference and research assistance, the five categories explain the bulk of the questions law libraries receive. In certain instances, law libraries provide enhanced services that public and academic libraries do not. Although they provide traditional bibliographic verification to a certain extent, they also perform two hybrid forms of this service by verifying the information contained within legal citations and checking the authoritative status of cases and statutes. To the extent they all provide ready reference services, the results were highly institution specific. They more readily agreed on the types of true reference services provided to diverse patrons. Although the types of research assistance they provide differ in significant respects, for the most part, they are patron dependent. Two of the law libraries in this study also provide a novel service that is identified as "Reference Service On-the-Fly." The overwhelming majority of librarians initially categorized the subject matters on which they serve their patrons in terms of jurisdictional boundaries, rather than traditional subject categories. However, each library has also cultivated and developed specialties based on the needs of their patrons. Although all the libraries prefer to provide reference services in person, they also conduct telephone reference. While three of the libraries have begun to explore the possibilities presented by email reference and hope to engage in more cyber reference in the future, this remains a developing area. (Contains 11 references.) (AEF)
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Master of Library Science Research Paper, Kent State University.