From Dawn to Desk: Finding the Sparkle in Everyday Reference Practice
Lanham, Walter; Wanucha Smith, Meghan
Poster Presentation at NCLA oct 2019Have you seen a decline in reference questions at your service desk? Are staff skeptical about the desk’s value? The Research & Instructional Services team at East Carolina University noticed a drop in the number of questions being asked at our research desk, particularly in reference questions. Anecdotally, the questions didn’t seem as challenging as they once were, and we weren’t convinced the desk was “worth it.” Of course, anecdotes ≠ data! We opted to study our desk and phone transactions to better understand the questions asked and whether our existing staffing model aligned with the evidence. During two weeks in the fall and spring semesters, we collected the questions, answers, degree of teaching involved, how challenging we found the question, and time involved. We coded responses for difficulty using the READ scale and by content of the question to better understand what patrons were asking us. The results gave us new insight into this traditional service offering, particularly in the wake of a new student center next door to the library. This poster will present study findings, how we’ve changed our staffing model, and what we’ve done to refresh and renew our reference practice at the desk.