For the past fifteen years I’ve operated on an academic schedule. When September rolls around on the calendar, it begins to feel like New Years is approaching and I shift into resolutions mode. At my library we are in the midst of our annual review process so we are all thinking about what we’d like to see and do in the coming year.
One of my big goals for this year is to revamp our reference services by creating a more flexible desk schedule, shifting our attention to research consultations and virtual reference, and redesigning our student training process. Ideally, I’m hoping to create a model that (1) utilizes librarian time and attention more efficiently; (2) properly trains students to triage and refer reference questions to library staff; and (3) increases the awareness and accessibility of library reference services among students.
For us, the reference desk is no longer a primary place of academic support, but one of customer service and technical support (this conclusion is based on two years of detailed statistics). Rather than continue to push a model of reference that isn’t useful to our students in that location, I want to focus our energies on creating real reference connections in other spaces. Some of the specific milestones for this goal include:
- Develop an FAQ website for reference questions using the Libraryh3lp platform consisting of, at minimum, the top 20 questions asked at the Info Desk.
- Create a Libraryh3lp training workshop for librarians.
- Set up a system that allows for students to reserve a research consultation time with librarians.
- Create a new training module for all library student workers that teaches how to identify, capture, and refer reference questions to a librarian.
- Develop a marketing plan to highlight virtual reference services, especially text-a-librarian.
From the user’s perspective, our reference desk setup will look exactly the same, but I’ll be making changes on the back-end throughout the semester. If my plan is successful, we may move away from the traditional desk model altogether. Or it may further necessitate the need for the desk. At this point, we don’t know which way the winds are blowing.