Overcoming Transactional Distance: Instructional Intent in an E-mail Reference Service

Portree, Martha; Evans, R. Sean; Adams, Tina M.; Doherty, John J.
December 2008
Reference & User Services Quarterly;Winter2008, Vol. 48 Issue 2, p142
Academic Journal
Theory is increasingly important as libraries transition traditional reference practices to online learning environments. This paper suggests and explores the boundaries of a new theory of reference interaction in the online environment that is grounded in online learning theories and the educational theory of transactional distance. The paper examines an operational definition of the librarian's instructional intent in email reference service, considering it the level of customized content in canned, instructional messages at institutions that provide e-mail reference service. This definition is tested statistically, suggesting that when a canned response is edited for content by the responder more instruction is likely to occur and transactional distance is overcome.


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