Reference Interviews With Teens

Throughout the literature discussing the information-seeking behaviour of teens, the key factor that kept reappearing was the importance of teaching high school-aged teenagers the information literacy skills that they will need in order to access the wide range of digital information available to them (e.g. Barlow, Karnes and Marchionini 1987; Scott and OíSullivan 2005). Conducting reference interviews with teens, especially in a situation where a digital source can or must be used, provides opportunity for teachable moments where instruction can be given that will aid in their future use of resources. It is important, however, to note that some teenagers, as with all users, may not be interested in learning the steps behind finding the information and may be more concerned with the final results (Minkel and Feldman 1999). Minkel and Feldman (1999) also suggest that it is important not to overwhelm teens with too much information, but to consider the age of the teen and how much information they might be interested in or able to handle. While the above suggestions apply to in-person reference interviews, they are also applicable to those reference questions that will be submitted online. It can be more difficult to assess a userís needs when questions are submitted through a digital medium, but the use of chat and the ability to have a dialogue with the user can alleviate some of those difficulties.