Members Present: Scott Walter, Kathleen Kern, Kirstin Dougan, Lynne Rudasill, Joann Jacoby, Lisa Hinchliffe, Pat Allen, Lori Mestre, Robert Slater, Tony Hynes, Beth Woodard, Peggy Steele, Karen Hogenboom
Members Absent: Tina Chrzastowski
Slater volunteered to be note taker for this meeting.
Woodard will be submitting a cover letter/draft analysis sometime this week. People will be asked to respond by March 2.
We talked about this at the last meeting. This issue was raised due to the lack of a Library-wide leadership function dealing with reference/consultation services. We've had various units and ad hoc groups working in this area (e.g., Ward and Kern in regard to digital reference). A new issue has to do with how we will integrate reference services being provided in satellite/embedded locations. Now might be a good time for a half-day retreat to look for ongoing leadership for reference/consultation services, including assessment.
Woodard noted the parallel discussion of a customer service retreat discussed in the Customer Service WG. She would propose such a retreat be mandatory with Library units closed in order to facilitate broad participation because this will send a strong message that the administration supports this retreat/focus.
Walter noted that the customer service discussion is an important one, but one that goes far beyond the question of reference services.
Woodard noted that the Library used to have a reference service committee, but that there has not been a Library-wide body to provide vision and direction for reference service for several years - the broadest discussions currently occur in bodies such as Services Advisory and the CPS Division.
As we move forward on New Service Model Programs, in particular with libraries that are merging, it would be good to have a structure and service policy in place. It would be good to have a committee to work on this, similar to the User Education Committee. This group could provide guiding principles to carefully balance user expectations and librarian preferences. We need to articulate a philosophy for reference services. Even if this doesn't pin down concrete details (number of hours desk is staffed, when, etc.) it can still provide some ideal models of reference service for units to follow/interpret. Also, each unit can be asked to explain how they are meeting the goals of this philosophy. Perhaps as a first step, this group could gather together the information on what type of reference services (and hours of services) each unit provides. Each library should have a web site or presence that indicates the times their reference services are available. We already have the library hours database, could we add to that information (maybe even a link to "staff view") about when a librarian/subject specialist in that unit is available. Perhaps we should start with a wider discussion of customer services, and then focus it to reference? We aren't talking about making sure a librarian is staffing a reference desk, but knowing when a specialist is available for in-depth help. We may need to establish some protocols and procedures for handing off a reference transaction to a subject specialist. We should definitely consider this as we put libraries together, to make it a general policy that those new people work together to make sure that there is "always" a specialist available in each unit to meet with patrons. This assumes that any librarian in the unit would be able to address questions for any area of the collection they are housed with. Also, we need to establish an expectation for general service points (especially on evenings and weekends) that reference staff should answer questions to the best of their ability when no experts are available, but still make a referral to the subject expert, indicating when they would be available to assist the patron. Subject specialist should understand that this means in many cases patrons will get help from a generalist that may not be as complete an answer as the subject specialist would have given.
There are two areas we need to focus on. First, basic things: promulgation of information about when desks are staffed, when librarians are available, consistent GA training, etc. Second, more forward- looking things: ongoing reference assessment, establish a policy and understanding about the various levels of reference service.
Any reference/consultation committee (or similar) that is established should not rely solely on the Services Advisory Committee for its membership. The group should focus on doing some ground work to establish talking/debating points to take for a library wide meeting/retreat about reference service, including establishing an ongoing structure for discussing reference services. One thorny issue that this group/retreat should address is the intersection of reference and instruction- should we just give patrons the answer, or teach them how to find it? We could charge a group to outline a set of reference philosophies and guidelines, and then have the retreat. At this point, we could have the retreat attendees determine if they needed a reference working group, a reference coordinator, etc. Also, the working group should find out which units do specialized subject training (beyond normal library wide GA training), and determine what reference service models are currently in use around the library.
Suggested Reference Working Group Members: Kathleen Kern, David Ward, Kirstin Dougan, Lynne Rudasill, Katie Newman, [Alvan Bregman/Chris Prom/Ellen Swain], & [Mary Schlembach/Tina Chrzastowski]
The group facilitators will be Kathleen Kern and Lynne Rudasill
Woodard asked if this group also consider reference collection development? Initial response is that this question would be better taken up by CDC, but that the work of the 2 groups should be closely aligned.
Following a review of available dates, SAC advised that Spring Sweeps Week take place March 30-April 5 th. Following the pilot testing of Desk Tracker during Fall 2008, the committee voted unanimously to require the use of the software for the collection and reporting of Sweeps Week statistics beginning with Spring 2009.
Walter will ask Kern will draft a message to LIBNEWS that Walter can disseminate that will announce Sweeps Week dates, training opportunities for Desk Tracker, etc.
We will also provide traditional tally sheets that can be used by units as emergency back-up should access to Desk Tracker fail during the data collection period.
Meeting adjourned at 10:00