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In 2020, the Leonard Lief Library created a searchable online knowledge base (FAQs) as a complement to virtual reference during the library’s pandemic-related closure. One year of search query data was used to assess the online knowledge base. This paper discusses the assessment’s findings and planned improvements to the FAQs.

A content analysis of user queries revealed what users are seeking in the knowledge base. The study examined the actions taken by users after conducting a search to determine the knowledge base’s success rate.

The knowledge base was successful in answering user questions almost half of the time. The top three query categories were access, non-library and instructional. The frequency of access-related queries was expected, due to COVID-19 library building closure. The prevalence of questions about other campus units was unexpected. This finding suggests a perception of the academic library as a source of campus information and supports including this type of information in the library FAQs.

This study adds to the body of assessment research within reference services, an area not well represented in the LIS literature. The methodology employed provides a model for assessment of online FAQs that can be adopted by other libraries.


The Version of Record of this article is:

Arce, V. & Ehrenpreis, M. (2023). Improving a Library FAQ: Assessment and Reflection of the First Year’s Use, The Reference Librarian, 64(1), 35-50, DOI: 10.1080/02763877.2023.2167898



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