Analyzing Electronic Question/Answer Services:
Analytical Framework and Evaluations of Selected Services
edited by
 Marilyn Domas White, Associate Professor
College of Library and Information Services
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
         This report develops an analytical framework based on systems analysis for evaluating electronic question/answer or AskA services operated by a wide range of types of organizations, including libraries. Version 1.0 of this framework was applied in June 1999 to a selective sample of eleven electronic question/answer services, which cover a range of primary audiences, intended purposes, and sponsoring organizations. All are based in non-library organizations, except for the help desk of the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress. Data gathering consists primarily of web site inspection, perusal of policy documents if publicly available, and personal contact via e-mail and/or interviews with service administrators. Contents include: Analyzing Electronic Question/Answer Services: Introduction and Analytical Framework by Marilyn Domas White, and the following evaluative analyses: American Memory Historical Collections Help Desk, American Memory Project, Library of Congress by Eileen Hauser; Ask-A-Geologist (U.S. Geological Field Service, Menlo Park, CA) by Janet Spikes; Ask-a-Linguist by Margaret F. Kondash; Ask a NASA Scientist by Theresa L. Aquino; Ask Dr. Math by Laura W. Speer; Ask Dr. Universe by Kristen Gramer; Go Ask Alice! by Vera Welsh; KidsConnect by Kathleen Feeney Chappell; BBS by Bryan Fagan; The Medical Edge’s AnswerDoc by Rick Whitaker; and ScienceNet by Jennifer R. Heiland. Appendix A contains the original framework; the introductory chapter presents Version 1.1 of the evaluative framework as modified through these applications.
Keywords: Digital libraries; Digital reference service; AskA services; Electronic question and answer services; Evaluations; Evaluative criteria
CLIS Technical Report 99-02