Why do students seek help in an age of DIY?

Marc Vinyard, Pepperdine University
Colleen Mullally, Pepperdine University
Jaimie Beth Colvin, Pepperdine University


National statistics indicate that academic libraries are experiencing declines in reference transactions, but the references services in some libraries continue to thrive. While many studies explore reasons that students do not seek assistance from librarians, there is limited research explaining why students do ask for help. The authors conducted a study to answer two questions: (1) How do undergraduate students look for information? (2) What prompted the students to seek out help from a librarian? To answer these questions, the authors conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with undergraduate students who had received reference assistance. An important theme that emerged from the interviews was students' preferences to search independently without assistance. Despite this “do-it-yourself” mentality, students aware of library research consultation services still continue to seek out assistance for librarians when stressful and time-consuming research questions arise. The findings from this study will help librarians better market their research services and understand how students perceive the help-seeking process.