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The purpose of this study was to determine the effective behaviors of reference librarians during the chat reference interview, with particular emphasis given to whether the service users would feel more satisfied when librarians adopt the behaviors recommended in the revised “RUSA Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Services Providers.” The data analyzed for this study consisted of 422 chat reference transaction transcripts and corresponding user surveys obtained from a public library system that participated in a nationwide chat reference consortium. In six of the ten behavioral types observed, the users perceived the service as more satisfying when librarians demonstrated the behaviors suggested in the revised guidelines than when they did not. Five of these behaviors—receptive and cordial listening, searching information sources with or for the patrons, providing information sources, asking patrons whether the question was answered completely, and asking patrons to return when they need further assistance—were revealed as strong predictors of user satisfaction. These findings demonstrated that the RUSA behaviors are effective in increasing user satisfaction, suggesting that the guidelines can continue to be used as an effective tool for both staff training and service assessment in chat reference services. This report concludes with recommendations for further improvement of the guidelines and agendas for future research.

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Reference & User Services Quarterly, v. 46, no. 2, p. 33-44

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