IMPACT OF ICT ON REFERENCE SERVICES (CONCLUDING PART)
Evaluation of Digital reference services
To evaluate means to assess the quality means to judge the standard of the service that should be provided to the users. Library and Information Centers being non-profit organizations evaluate their services to know its significance for the user as well as to measure the user satisfaction. Additionally, evaluation also provide an opportunity to review the economic costs associated in providing the digital reference service as well as staffing and training issues and overall impact of the services on the reference department. Digital Reference Services should evaluate their services their policies and procedures on a regular basis to ensure reliability, quality and efficiency of the service as well as user satisfaction with service as well. Lankes has laid down the following measures/components for assessing the quality of digital reference services rendered by the library or information centers or organization.
- Outcome Measures – to judge the quality of answers.
- Process Measures – to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the process.
- Economic Measures – to ensure the costing and cost-effectiveness.
- User Satisfaction – to identify the degree of satisfaction of the users.
Future of Digital Reference Services (Conclusion)
With the advent of internet, which is a medium of ICT, a number of non-library and commercial library and information centers are have started providing digital reference services, while some are free and others need payment. A good number of reference sources i.e. encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, handbooks, directories and major abstracting services like Chemical Abstracts, Biological Abstracts etc. are available on the internet. Thus, in the future users will be more dependent on the online sources and services. They will tap the required information at home by means of computer. At the same time the cost involved will be affordable for the users and will continue to get the information at the less cost from the library. There will be a great demand for accurate and specific information. So, expert reference librarians will be needed in the future. As no library can provide reference service through its own collection there will be a need to have collaborative ventures for reference service. The future of reference service will be based on digital collections and communication links through web. Whatever shapes the new technology is going to take in the future library and information centers should turn their thought to compete in the new environment to provide real time reference services, especially developing countries in the Middle East and Africa needs to give a thought over it. The reference librarian and reference service in the future is going to act as a center of universe of information, if the library is well equipped with ICT equipment like computers, internet and CD-ROM’s.
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