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Building and Maintaining Internet Information Services:
K-12 Digital Reference Services

by R. David Lankes

Table of Contents

ABSTRACT iii

List of Tables viii

List of Figures ix

Chapter 1: Introduction 1

INTRODUCTION 2

CONTEXT OF THE STUDY 3

THE CONCEPT OF ADAPTATION AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK 4

K-12 DIGITAL REFERENCE SERVICES 7

BENEFITS OF DESCRIPTIONS 9

RESEARCH QUESTIONS 10

METHOD OF THE STUDY 11

DELIMITERS AND ASSUMPTIONS 11

Delimiters 11
Organization as the Unit of Analysis 12
Literature and Previous Research Used 12
Sample Used for the Study 13
Methods Used to Elicit Information 13
Assumptions 13
The Internet will Continue to be Complex and Dynamic 14
Understanding Users Does Not Equate to Understanding Information Services 14
Descriptions of Digital Reference Services Are Transferable 14

CHAPTER SUMMARY 15

Chapter 2: Conceptual Framework and Related Research 17

CHAPTER PREVIEW 18

DIGITAL REFERENCE SERVICES ON THE INTERNET 19

Defining Digital Reference Services 19
Impacts of the Internet on Reference Services 20
Changing Roles of Reference Librarians 20
Digital Libraries 23
Digital Reference Services Summary 24

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK 26

HOLLAND'S PERFORMANCE SYSTEM AND COMPLEXITY RESEARCH 27

Stasis, Complexity, and Chaos 27
A Note on Agents 29
Acceptance of Complexity Theory 29
Attributes of Complex Adaptive Systems 30
Match of Attributes to the Internet 31
Holland's Performance System 33
Detectors 34
Rules 35
Effectors 36
Use of Complexity in This Study 36

GENERAL SYSTEMS THEORY 36

Why Complexity and Not General Systems Theory 39

KNOWLEDGE AND CONTROL 39

Knowledge 40
Control 40
Management, Knowledge, and Control 40
Examples of Limited Knowledge, and Control in the Internet Environment 42
Implications of Knowledge and Control on This Study 42

INTERNET INPUTS 43

Internet Frameworks 43
Open System Interconnect 44
Liu et al.'s Three Roles in the Internet 45
XIWT NII Architecture 46
The Lankes/Eisenberg Architecture 46
Infrastructure Providers 48
Application Builders 48
Information Services 49
Users 49
Architecture Summary 49
Internal and External Input 49
Using the Lankes/Eisenberg Architecture to Anticipate Detector Types 50

CHAPTER SUMMARY 51

Chapter 3: Methodology and Research Design 53

INTRODUCTION 54

Overview of Method 54
Role of Complexity in Method 56

THE NATURE OF THE INTERNET ENVIRONMENT 56

LACK OF GUIDING RESEARCH AND KNOWLEDGE 56

LINKAGE OF DESIGN TO RESEARCH QUESTIONS 57

THE APPROACH 57

The Use of Elite Interviews 58

THE SELECTION OF EXEMPLARY K-12 DIGITAL

REFERENCE SERVICES 59

Selection of Elites 60
Elite Interview Schedule 61
Venues for Interviewing 67

USE OF SECONDARY INFORMATION SOURCES 68

The Internet 69
Sites 70
Internal Documents 70
Experience 70

DATA DESCRIPTION 71

DATA QUALITY 73

Use of Criteria 73
Use of Conceptual Framework 74
Use of an Audit Trail 74
Use of Member Checks 74
Use of the AskERIC Example 75
Summary of Data Quality 75

PRE-TESTS 76

METHOD SUMMARY 77

Chapter 4: Results 79

INTRODUCTION 80

RESULTS OF DATA GATHERING 80

THE BLUEPRINT METAPHOR 81

How to Read the Service Descriptions 82
Purpose of Service Descriptions and Blueprints 83

SERVICE 1: ASK A VOLCANOLOGIST 84

Introduction 85
Blueprint Figure 86
Detectors 87
Effectors 87
Rules 88
Resources 88
Blueprint Narrative 90
Question Answer Process 90
Web Development Process 91

SERVICE 2: ASK SHAMU 93

Introduction 94
Blueprint Figure 95
Detectors 96
Effectors 96
Rules 97
Resources 97
Blueprint Narrative 98
Question Answer Process 98
Content Creation Process 99
Policy Creation Process 100

SERVICE 3: DR. MATH 101

Introduction 102
Blueprint Figure 103
Detectors 104
Effectors 104
Rules 105
Resources 105
Blueprint Narrative 106
Question Answer Process 106
Training Process 110
Web Development Process 110

SERVICE 4: HOW THINGS WORK 112

Introduction 113
Blueprint Figure 115
Detectors 116
Effectors 116
Rules 116
Resources 117
Blueprint Narrative 117
Primary Q&A Process 118

SERVICE 5: MAD SCIENTIST NETWORK 120

Introduction 121
Blueprint Figure 122
Detectors 123
Effectors 123
Rules 123
Resources 124
Blueprint Narrative 125
Question Answer Process 126
E-mail Process 130
Software Improvement Process 130

SERVICE 6: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART REFERENCE DESK 131

Introduction 132
Blueprint Figure 133
Detectors 134
Effectors 134
Rules 134
Resources 135
Blueprint Narrative 136
Question Answer Process 136

TOWARDS A META-DESCRIPTION 139

Looking Across Detectors 139
Looking Across Effectors 141
Looking Across Resources 142
Looking Across Rules 143

META-DESCRIPTION 144

Chapter 5: Conclusions, Limitations, and Future Research 149

INTRODUCTION 150

CONCLUSIONS 150

Conclusion 1: Conceptual Framework 151
Revised Conceptual Framework 152
Implications of the Conceptual Framework 153
Conclusion 2: Description 153
Methodological Conclusions and
Implications 154
Other Findings from the Service Descriptions 155
User Internet Agent Types 155
Application Internet Agent Types 155
Infrastructure Internet Agent Types 156
Nature of Elites 156
Conclusion 3: Meta-Description 157

LIMITATIONS OF STUDY AND FINDINGS 158

Dynamism in Building and Maintaining 158
Efficiency and Effectiveness 159
Surface Descriptions 159
Transferability of Descriptions and Meta-Description 160

FUTURE RESEARCH 160

Future Research Related to the Conceptual
Framework 161
Refining the Framework 161
Developing the Dynamic Nature of the Conceptual
Framework 161
Balancing the Conceptual Framework 161
Applying the Framework to Different Settings 162
Conceptual Framework in Library and Information Center
Settings 162
Conceptual Framework in Non-Reference Settings 162
Future Research Related to Descriptions 162
A Longitudinal Study of K-12 Digital
Reference Services 162
Development of Efficiency and Effectiveness Benchmarks for Digital Reference Services 163
Developing Streamlined Elicitation Process for Internet
Information Services' Performance Systems 163
Future Research Related to Meta-Description 163
Enrichment of Meta-Description with Additional Processes 164
Expansion of the Meta-Description to Consider Threaded
Discussions and Iterative Processes 164
Summary of Future Research 164

APPLICATIONS OF RESEARCH 164

A Common Answer Format: QuIP 169
QuIP Components 169
Transaction Wrapper 170
Metadata Representation 170
Blueprint Module 170
Question 171
Answer 171
User Profile 171
Implications of a Common Answer Format: A
Question/Answer Electronic Marketplace 171
Facilitating a Question/Answer Electronic Marketplace for K-12 Digital Reference 172

STUDY SUMMARY 173

References 175
Appendix A: Pre-Test Interview Transcript 181
Appendix B: Quality Criteria Developed by the Expert Panel 189
Appendix C: The AskERIC Pre-Test 191
AskERIC Background 191
AskERIC Today 192
The AskERIC Organization 192
User Services 192
Technology Services (Research & Development and Systems/SunSITE) 193
Partnerships 195
Viewing AskERIC as a Performance System 195
Detectors 196
Rules 198
Effectors 201
AskERIC Summary 201
Appendix D: More Information from the Internet 203
Appendix E: Synopsis of Data Gathering 205

ASK A VOLCANOLOGIST 205

ASK SHAMU 206

DR. MATH 207

HOW THINGS WORK 208

MAD SCIENTIST NETWORK 209

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART REFERENCE DESK 210

Index 211


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