Location-based questions and local knowledge



This article explores location-based questions, local knowledge, and the implications stemming from these concepts for digital reference staff in consortial question- answering services. Location-based questions are inquiries that concern a georeferencable site. Digital reference personnel staffing the statewide chat reference consortium used in this study respond to location-based questions concerning over 100 participating information agencies. Some literature has suggested that nonlocal digital reference staff have difficulties providing accurate responses to location-based questions concerning locations other than their own. This study utilized content analysis to determine the quantity of location-based questions and the question-negotiation process in responding to location-based questions. Key findings indicate location-based questions comprised 50.2% of the total questions asked to the statewide service, 73.6% of location-based questions were responded to by nonlocal digital reference staff, and 37.5% of location-based questions ended in referral. This article's findings indicate that despite digital reference's capability to provide anyplace, anytime question-answering service, proximity to local knowledge remains relevant.