Virtual reference services through web search engines: Study of academic libraries in Pakistan

Rubia Khan, Arif Khan, Sidra Malik, Haroon Idrees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Web search engines (WSE) are powerful and popular tools in the field of information service management. This study is an attempt to examine the impact and usefulness of web search engines in providing virtual reference services (VRS) within academic libraries in Pakistan. The study also attempts to investigate the relevant expertise and skills of library professionals in providing digital reference services (DRS) efficiently using web search engines. Methodology used in this study is quantitative in nature. The data was collected from fifty public and private sector universities in Pakistan using a structured questionnaire. Microsoft Excel and SPSS were used for data analysis. The study concludes that web search engines are commonly used by librarians to help users (especially research scholars) by providing digital reference services. The study also finds a positive correlation between use of web search engines and quality of digital reference services provided to library users. It is concluded that although search engines have increased the expectations of users and are really big competitors to a library's reference desk, they are however not an alternative to reference service. Findings reveal that search engines pose numerous challenges for librarians and the study also attempts to bring together possible remedial measures. This study is useful for library professionals to understand the importance of search engines in providing VRS. The study also provides an intellectual comparison among different search engines, their capabilities, limitations, challenges and opportunities to provide VRS effectively in libraries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages13
JournalPublications
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2017

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