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Merging Traffic: A Combined Reference and Access Services Desk

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Fu Zou, Melanie Church, Tom Burns presentation at Chinese American Librarans Association (CALA) Midwest Chapter Annual Conference on May 21, 2011 at Indiana University Southeast (IUS) Library

Fu Zou, Melanie Church, Tom Burns presentation at Chinese American Librarans Association (CALA) Midwest Chapter Annual Conference on May 21, 2011 at Indiana University Southeast (IUS) Library

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  • 1. Merging Traffic: Planning for and implementing a combined reference and access services desk
    Tom Burns, Research & Instruction Librarian, UMKC
    burnstg@umkc.edu
    Melanie Church, Graduate Student Assistant, UMKC
    mjc4gb@mail.mizzou.edu
    Fu Zhuo, Research & Instruction Librarian, UMKC
    zhuof@umkc.edu
    May 21, 2011
  • 2. Merging Traffic: Planning for and implementing a combined reference and access services desk
  • 3. Introduction and Literature Review
    UMKC Library renovation
    Declining reference statistics (Carlson 25-30)
    One point of service in libraries (Fitzpatrick 231-38)
    Reference desk staffing already changed from 2 to 1
    Merging two desks in academic libraries (Massey-Burzio 276-86, Flanagan 329-38, Meldrem 305-11)
  • 4. Reference - Statistics
    Survey Monkey is used to monitor reference transactions. In 2010, there were 10,846 total questions, including non-reference questions. In 2011, there have been 3,134 total questions to date.
    In 2010, 49% of the questions answered by Reference were reference questions.
    In 2011, 56% of the questions answered by Reference were reference questions.
    In 2010, Access Services answered 2.6% of the reference questions.
    In 2011, Access Services answered 10.7% of the reference questions.
  • 5. Planning Process
    Began in December 2009 with a planning committee and a “Final” version was approved January 2011
    Document categories
    Quick Reference Questions
    “On call” Referral
    Telephone, Text-a-Librarian, & Email Questions
    Technical Assistance
    Evening & Weekend Service
    Cross training
    Librarians
    Staff
  • 6. Former Reference Desk
  • 7. Merging Desks
    When the traffic merged: November 2010 – February 2011 (transitional phase)
    Moved to the new desk in February 2011 – present
  • 8. Transitional Reference/Access Services Desk
  • 9. Former Access Services Desk
  • 10. First Floor Layout
  • 11. The New Desk
  • 12. Outcomes & Assessment
    • Alleviating patron and staff frustration and tearing down service walls
    • 13. Eliminating multiple referrals and creating one point of need assistance
    • 14. Freeing librarians to do more professional development activities and to do more library programs, e.g. diversity
    • 15. Building a closer relationship as each part can do part of the other’s job and gain professional experience
    • 16. Collecting statistics continually
  • Issues and Challenges
    • Limitations on some service evaluation, e.g. no statistics for “on call” referral.
    • 17. Is it appropriate for Access Service Staff to answer some reference questions such as catalog searching?
    • 18. Is it appropriate for RIS staff to handle some Access Service functions?
    • 19. How much training is needed for each team?
    • 20. Who is more responsible for more complex technical questions?
    • 21. When should Access Service staff call for help when the scheduled reference staff is away to help a patron?
    • 22. Will RIS librarians and Access Services staff have two jobs?
    • 23. Will the increased responsibilities jeopardize both librarians and Access Services staff job security?
  • Summary
    The transition has been mostly smooth
    The new combined desk has provided opportunities for both librarians and staff to learn the automation system and serve their patrons better
    Technical problems are solved mainly by Access Services staff, so that librarians can focus more on research questions or consultations
    Librarians can do more outreach and marketing to engage faculty and students
    The move has brought reference team and Access Service team closer, literally and figuratively
  • 24. Works Cited and Consulted
    Bugg, Kimberley L., and Rosaline Y. Odom. "Extreme Makeover Reference Edition: Restructuring Reference Services at the Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta University Center." Reference Librarian 50.2 (2009): 193-204. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts. EBSCO. Web. 4 May 2011.
    Carlson, Scott. “Are Reference Desks Dying Out? Librarians Struggle to Redefine—and in Some Cases Eliminate—the Venerable Institution.” The Reference Librarian 48.2 (2008): 25-30. Web. 4 May 2011.
    Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth B., Anne C. Moore, and Beth W. Lang. "Reference Librarians at the Reference Desk in a Learning Commons: A Mixed Methods Evaluation." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 34.3 (2008): 231-38. Education Full Text. Web. 12 May 2011.
    Flanagan, Pat and Lisa Horowitz.  “Exploring New Service Models: Can Consolidating Public Service Points Improve Response to Customer Needs.”  Journal of Academic Librarianship 26.5 (2000): 329-38.  Web. 11 May 2011.
    Lubker, Irene, Margaret Henderson, Catherine Canevari, and Barbara Wright. "Refocusing Reference Services Outside the Library Building: One Library's Experience." Medical Reference Services Quarterly 29.3 (2010): 218-228. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 May 2011.
    Massey-Burzio, Virginia. “Reference Encounters of a Different Kind: A Symposium.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 18.5 (1992): 276-80.  Web.  12 May 2011.
    Meldrem, Joyce, Lori Mardis, and Carolyn Johnson. “Redesign Your Reference Desk: Get Rid of It!” ACRL Twelfth National Conference. Association of College & Research Libraries. Minneapolis, MN. 7 Apr. 2005. Web. 11 May 2011.
    Ryan, Susan M. “Reference Transactions Analysis: The Cost-Effectiveness of Staffing a Traditional Academic Reference Desk.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 34.5 (2008): 389-399. Web. 4 May 2011.
  • 25. Thanks!
    Special thanks to Cindy Thompson and Diane Hunter for their contributions to this project.