Digital Reference Services in a digital environment: user’s perceptions of the Library and Information Center of Harokopio University
Digital Reference Service operates as a supplementary service for traditional libraries by embracing the potentials of new technologies with the purpose of supporting distant users. On the contrary, in digital libraries the service is based on algorithms and the human intermediation is often absent raising thoughts of how this service would be functional for users in this environment. The study examines the value of human intermediation in a digital library from the users’ perspective. Human intermediation can be integrated in a digital environment through personalized services, such as the Digital Reference Service. The focal point of the study in investigating the perceptions of users was set by the research questions and it is about the usefulness of the Digital Reference Service; the feelings that the implementation of this service would give rise to; and the effectiveness of serving users information needs. This aim of the study was attained by identifying any users’ awareness of the Digital Reference Service and its potentials; by considering the users’ feelings towards using the service; and finally by detecting the elements of the Digital Reference Service which should be improved in accordance with the users’ needs. The Library and Information Center of Harokopio University was used for conducting the case study which was based on semi-structured interviews of with a view to collecting valuable data. The results of the research were analyzed through the constant comparative process answering the established objectives. The findings show that the users would embrace a personalized service, which would facilitate the process of satisfying their information needs. Nevertheless, the salient issue was the expansion of the role of the Library and the skills of librarians, in order to continue supporting users by minimizing the constraints of the distance.
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