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Abstract

Library Reference service can benefit from the retrieval from a question/answer (Q/A) databank where previously answered reference questions can be reused, either directly or with some modifications. However, the majority of search engines rely heavily on keyword matching, and we believe there are situations in the library reference environment where the relevancy or usefulness of a retrieved item may not be limited to whether there are some linguistic similarities between the queries and entries in the databank. For example, a user who wants to find the answer to a question regarding criticisms or reviews of a particular contemporary author (such as “John Smith”) may not find a good answer readily available from doing a keyword search using the author's name. However, if the search returns recommendations for reliable information resources regarding reviews or criticisms of contemporary authors (e.g. the NY Times Review Archive of Contemporary Authors), the user can go to these resources to search for this particular author “John Smith”. In this paper, an alternative retrieval system that offers a new way of finding useful information for library reference service is presented and discussed. An experiment is conducted where the retrieval engine searches for similar and/or useful question/answer pairs in a knowledge bank in response to a new query.