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  • Barb Introductions, what we will talk about "one university library's effort to re-invent public services, in view of current budgetary situation, as well as the idea that the concept of the reference desk is more or less obsolete and users are increasingly aware of virtual resources and services" We will focus on our methods of arriving at recommendations, as well how we hoped to influce their adoption by library administrators
  • identify who is from Spec Coll and Academic S. - 
  • Barb
  • Barb
  • Andy: why the taskforce was organized, why it was inter-departmental Lily:  This project involved was an analysis of the reference services literature, which we all did independently and discussed our findings with the group. Part of what struck me, was the incongruity between what seemed to be the legacy of the Learning Commons for some university libraries and what was occurring here at USF. The reality of reference was really traditional, both in terms of staffing, and also just how the reference desk looked and was treated. Although the library has had a Learning Commons  since really the 90s (in terms of collocating IT, Writing & Tutoring, etc. with Research/Reference services), Reference seemed to be stuck and not moving forward with other innovative legacies of the commons, such as creative and fluid staffing, referral services, and reliance on virtual reference. After interviewing a few of the more senior staff members I learned a lot about what the issues really are. Reference had certainly NOT suffered from any lack of innovation or experimentation in the past and every move/change in the past had to do with trying to define what reference really means for our library. For example, a few years ago, the Reference Desk was combined with the IT service desk, it was at one point very centrally located in the computer area and closer to librarians' offices. Most recently, it has moved close to the Writing Center in order to better collaborate with that unit and it is also closer to the entrance so as to be easier to find. The Desk had moved many times and gone through many different experimentations in order to 1) improve visibility, 2) creatively combine services Problem: in all of those changes, there wasn't a fundamental (philosophical) examination of what reference is.  Is it about technology? Is it about research consultation? What is a "basic" and "advanced" reference question. Why are we still doing reference? Is this our role, is it going to remain our role in the future? What do our users really need.   At the start of the project, the Reference Desk was not very carefully examined as a service and, as a result, we were just overstaffing it, in the assumption that the more hours we do at the desk, the better service we will provide (which may or may not be true) So, prior to the project, the desk was staffed 110 hours per week by faculty librarians, which caused everyone a lot of stress and feeling "stretched too thin". We were double-staffing, nonetheless. After, it was reduced to a little over half of that.
  • Barb: Assessment How did we use to keep track of reference desk interactions, both in Academic Serviecs and Spec Coll? Matt: Introducing... Desk tracker.What it does, categories, how it lead us to recommend things  LibQUAL Agreement on definition of simple v advanced Number of simple and advanced 9:1
  • Lily: These are some of our recommendations They are supported by what we gathered from our DeskTracker analysis and in-line with what we were reading about in the literature I think the central one is switching the emphasis from librarians to paraprofessionals (GAs) as the primary "public face", while simultanously creating better communication and referral overall as well as relying much more on virtual reference.
  • Patterns of statistics To and from TBLC Number of extra hours of chat Questionpoint Cyclical nature
  • Lily:  So after doing all of this work, one of the things that was left for us is to ensure that these recommendations will actually be implemented. This is something, I think, we don't do particularly well in the profession, ie assessing is great, but you have to take it to the next step as well and actually implement the results. This was a suspicion which was confirmed by my analysis of the literature which showed that, although we think of decision-making in libraries as linear, rational process, it may not be. Evidence-based librarianship is a rare thing in reality. Library administrators have to consider many variables before making a decision that will have an impact on the organization. The model that I found useful for looking at this is "bounded rationality model" which basically says that administrators do not only use quantitative data (such as would come from Desktracker and other tools) in order to reach decisions. What else do they use? We thought it was appropriate to just ask them. Barb: Interviews
  • Andy
  • Matt Busier on Sunday night Patterns of Saturday email Robust referral system
  • Barb Personal stats review

Informed_desk_staffing_through_quantified_refe3 Informed_desk_staffing_through_quantified_refe3 Presentation Transcript

  • Informed Desk Staffing with Quantified Reference Statistics Using Electronic Data Collection to Re-Envision Reference Services at the USF Tampa Libraries ALA 2011 Annual Conference Presentation RUSA MARS Top Trends June 25, 2011
  • Lily Todorinova , University of South Florida Andy Huse , University of South Florida Barbara Lewis , University of South Florida Matt Torrence , University of South Florida
  • University of South Florida Campuses : Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Lakeland Student Population: (Tampa): approx. 40,000 Profile: Urban, Undergraduate, High Research Activity
  • The Libraries
  • Re-Envisioning Public Services
      • Context for the project: 2010, Inter-departmental
      • History of the Learning Commons
  • Assessment
      • Tally sheets and/or "clickers"
        • Sample days throughout the semester
      • Experimentation & anecdotal information
      • Aeon
      • Desktracker
  • Recommendations
      • Single-staffing librarians with GAs at peak times only
      • Instituting a referral system between GAs (or paraprofessionals) and librarians, when desk is single-staffed
      • Instituting better referral between other departments and units (Special & Digital Collections, as well as Circulation, the Writing Center, and Tutoring and Learning)
      • Eliminating night hours and reducing weekends
      • Increasing reliance on virtual reference
  • Virtual Reference: The Solution
      • Started with email in 1999
      • Moved to, from, and back to collaborative services
        • TBLC Statewide
      • Chat and text services
        • Supplement, or replacement?
      • The future...?
  • Management Decision-making
      • Decision-making literature
      • Structured interviews
        • Past, present, & future data collections
          • What?
          • How?
          • Why?
        • Decision-making process
          • What types of decisions?
          • How was it done?
          • How do you want to do it?
          • What type of data do you need?
  • Results in Special Collections
      • The old backup desk model (staff/students with faculty backup) had problems: two scheduled for each hour, duplication, no benefit to patrons.
      • Aeon and Desk Tracker provide important data: Similar ratio (9:1) of basic informational questions to actual reference queries.  Majority of patrons required "retrievals," not "consultations.”
      • New desk model, relatively small cadre of two staff and two students.  Advantages: Frees faculty for other duties, a stable lineup of well-trained desk staff, eases schedule creation.
      • Statistics determined cuts in hours. 
      • Small department, fast implementation.
  • Results in Academic Services
      • Changes in daily scheduling
        • Down to one librarian/GA for slower times
        • Modifications to evening coverage (TBLC chat help)
        • On-call hours
      • Changes to weekend scheduling
        • Librarian shift moved to Sunday evenings (4-8pm)
        • Email and chat coverage on Saturdays
      • Increased focus on consultations
        • Workshops
        • Research Rescue
        • Individual sessions
  • Conclusions and the Future
      • Knowledge Tracker
      • Systematized referral process
      • Cross-informational training between service points