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Reference & Instruction Guide: Statistics and Assessment
Policies, procedures, best practices and training guide, for reference and instruction services.
The online Reference Services Contact Report form, also known as Reference Services Dashboard, is used to record the type of reference service inquiry, the delivery method, where the contact transaction took place, and nature of transaction.
Tip: Librarians have found that by using this form in the Mozilla FireFox web browser, it allows one to use the refresh on the address bar after your contact has been submitted to display what was recently submitted again. The librarian can then remove some of the field entries to be ready for the next contact entry.
Transaction types are defined as:
Information = Contacts in which librarians primarily provide directional information rather than instruction.
Question examples: "Where is the bathroom?" or "When does the Library close?"
Instruction = Contacts in which the bulk of the librarian's time is spent teaching, guiding, or explaining.
Question examples: "How do I find literary criticism?" or "How do I find the books about stem cell research?"
Telephone = Contacts made by telephone whether they are information or instruction.
Length of Transaction = Captures the time spent with the library user during the contact.
Time of Day= Captures the number of contacts during a specific hour of the day.
Day of Week= Captures the day of week the contacts occur.
Location= Captures where and how the reference service contact was delivered.*
Locations listed include places and how the service provided such as:
Make An Appointment
This provides a way to track the Appointment service transaction outside the LibWizard request form.
Email - not done through the LibAnswers Chat / Email platform
Examples of an Email Reference transaction to be recorded here are:
Research help questions that come in through Library systems, e.g.
Serials Solutions (re: full-text link problems)
Library web page comments & suggestions
From requests sent to the Library Director who asks Reference staff to respond.
A email reference request may be addressed to SS-LIBREF or to an individual Reference Librarian.
*One exception to this description is the "Telephone" stats listed under the "Type of Transaction". Due to the change-over from a print form to an online form to track transactions, we cannot change the Type of Transactions without changing the historical data and how it is compiled & reported at this time. (SS)
Topic = Captures a general overview of the nature of a contact's question.
If an appropriate topic is not located in the dropdown, the librarian may choose Other. Then the appropriate topic may then be entered into the Subject free form box, such as "Directional" or "Hours."
Subject= Captures the general subject matter of the transaction. RST decided not to require this field to be identified as of Spring 2019 semester.
If an appropriate subject is not located in the dropdown, the librarian may choose Other. The appropriate subject may then be entered into the free form box below, such as "University Center," "OneBook," or "Foreign Language."
Reference Librarians will engage in professional reflection and conversation surrounding the best practices identified by the American Library Association's Reference & User Services Association (RUSA) division Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference & Information Service Providers. Peer observation activities at the Reference Desk will take place once every academic year, usually the opposite semester of instruction peer observation.
The goal of peer observation at the Reference Desk is for each of us to engage in professional conversation and conversation surrounding best practices for Reference Desk service.
Observations should be between 30 and 60 minutes or a minimal of 2 instructional reference transactions.
Partners will engage in post-observation conversation about the observation. A pre-observation conversation is encouraged.
Librarians try to do peer observation once a academic year.
To be determined by end of Fall Semester
Use the *Ref Desk Peer Observation Form as a guide to have a pre & post conversation.
When a student approaches the desk, let them know that the one librarian will be observing.
The observing librarian should not wear the pink button and should be somewhat retired or withdrawn from being available.
Try to schedule enough time so that if the desk is busy and the observing librarian is needed to help students there is still time to observe.
Do not sacrifice service to students for the sake of the observation process.
Both the observer and observee should review the Reference Desk Best Practices, RUSA guidelines, and the reference interview page on the RI Guide before the scheduled observation time.
*Ref Desk Peer Observation Form is located in the network files: N:\SA-Division\Learning-Assistance\Reference-Instruction-Services\Reference\Ref-Desk-Peer-Observation\ref-peer-observation-form.docx
Librarians are to complete an internal document about their peer observation located at network path: N:\SA-Division\Learning-Assistance\Reference-Instruction-Services\Reference\Ref-Desk-Peer-Observation\Ref-Desk-Observations-What-Learned.docx
Create a favorable environment: Choose a location that is comfortable, private, and free from interruptions.
Choose the right time: Schedule the conference soon after the observation -- perhaps schedule at the same time.
Start the conversation: Begin with open-ended questions.
Use effective communication skills: Pause, paraphrase, check for understanding, and use open body language.
Be positive and build on strengths: Start with what went well ad build on strengths, but be sure to include area(s) to grow.
Describe behavior: Focus on the behavior and share objective observations without evaluating.
Be specific and accurate: Describe specific behaviors accurately.
Don't compare: Concentrate on reference best practices rather than differences in style or approach.
Focus on the future: Provide suggestions for future improvement -- but no more than three.
Maintain confidentiality: What happens during observation conversations stays private.