Evaluation of reference service in the era of social media: A case of National Open University Library, Nigeria
Due to emergence of Internet and the ever-changing information world, access and dissemination of information is no longer restricted to limited arena. Reference service has become a trendy method of promoting access and wide dissemination of information to library patrons. The traditional face-to-face and armchair system where the library only physically consults or is consulted within its own walls or even the confines of the institution, has no place in modern reference service. This study, therefore, evaluated reference services in the era of social media in academic library of National Open University, Nigeria (NOUN). It examined awareness and level of usage of online reference services available to students. The study used questionnaire to collect data from students, while face-to-face interview was used to collect data from a librarian in the selected centres. The study applies random sampling to select participants while purposive sampling was used to select a librarian. The study analyzed the data using IBM-SPSS version 20.0. Findings revealed that students are aware that their university libraries are on social media networks but are still not familiar with most of reference services. Ask-a-Librarian, Facebook and Twitter were ranked as the most preferred methods for conveying online reference services. That online reference service was indicated as more supreme than traditional desk reference service because communication has no geographical barrier with a reference librarian and is easily accessible. The implications of the present research, although literature on evaluation of reference service in tertiary education does exist, studies on assessment of reference service in digital era by students are scarce and divergent. This research sheds light on this essential subject by intensely aiding the understanding of various social media for educational purposes. The study concluded that the intervention of modern and accessible social media tools in reference service make significant differences in access and dissemination of information to library patrons.
Keywords: Reference, service, Evaluation, Awareness, Usage, Social media, NOUN, Nigeria