Library Committee Handbook

Advisory Committee to the
Associate University Librarian for User Services

Committee Charge


FY2010 Annual Report
FY2011 Annual Report


Minutes of Services Advisory Committee Meeting- 03/09/2009

Members Present: Scott Walter (Chair), Pat Allen, Tina Chrzastowski, Kirstin Dougan, Karen Hogenboom, Tony Hynes, Kathleen Kern, Lori Mestre, Lynne Rudasill,  Robert Slater

Members Absent: Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, JoAnn Jacoby, Peggy Steele

Appointment of Note Taker

Rudasill volunteered to serve as note taker

Additions to the Agenda 

Update: Improving User Services in the Digital Environment

Chrzastowski asked for an update on any actions following the January 12 th discussion of "Improving User Services in the Digital Environment." The group discussed the need for a more transparent (and more widely disseminated) approach to the idea of supporting a "discovery to delivery" cycle that includes elements such as integration of print serial holdings in Discover links and clearer directions regarding the availability of digital delivery of material held at Oak Street.

The connection was noted between this discussion and the following recommendation from the Technical Services Coordination and Consolidation Team: "The Team recommends that the Library . . . build the services needed to give users seamless access to print holdings at both the article and chapter level content . . . . This pilot project would expand on the Doc Express service to better assess user demand for desk top delivery of pdfs of article or chapters discovered online."

Walter will invite Cherie Weible, Betsy Kruger, and Lynn Wiley to a future SAC meeting to provide an overview of existing services and opportunities for further enhancement of the D2D cycle.

Update: Awards Working Group

Hynes asked for an update from the Awards Working Group.  Scott reported that the AWG decided at its March meeting to suspend activities for the remainder of the semester owing to the recent direction of WG member attention to time-sensitive projects such as the preparation of the Action Plan. The WG will re-convene beginning in May with the goal of providing an initial set of recommendations that may be acted upon by the Dean prior to the end of FY09.

Reference Retreat

Following the recommendations made at the last SAC meeting, the following individuals have been invited to participate in the Reference Retreat Task Force: Kern (Co-Chair), Rudasill (Co-Chair), Dougan, David Ward, and Katie Newman. Invitations have also been sent to Library faculty representing Physical Sciences and Special Collections. SAC discussed the need to include a staff member on the TF, and Hynes agreed to serve. SAC discussed the question of the scope of the group's charge and re-affirmed the understanding that this group will focus on the design, delivery, and assessment of a "Reference Retreat," with one of the focal topics for that retreat being recommendations regarding ongoing leadership for information services across the Library. 

Topics that might be considered at the retreat include assessment, ongoing leadership, articulating a reference philosophy, student and staff training programs, etc. The question of when this retreat might occur has been influenced by concerns regarding staff/GA/student budgets for FY10 and the need to plan staffing approaches for the upcoming year early in order to allow faculty and staff to begin planning vacation and research time starting in Summer 2009. 

Hogenboom asked how this retreat might inform the broader question of authority for setting policy and establishing reporting and assessment protocols for information services across the Library, and whether this was related to the discussion of the "Coordinator" position currently ongoing in EC. Walter indicated that the leadership question needs to be more broadly engaged for the direction of reference throughout the Library.  Walter continued that reference service is expensive to provide, and the data that we currently collect and report do not provide an effective argument for its continuation in its current form. If the Library remains committed to maintaining a robust information service program that includes an expectation of the use of Library faculty on service desks in Library units, we must review our expectations for that service, strive for consistency of quality, and undertake new mechanisms for assessment of the quality and impact of information service on research, teaching, and learning. Is "reference" still one of the "most important things we do"; is it still a premier professional service to be provided in the physical Library environment in the way we have done to date?

Allen asked if there is actually an answer to whether or not reference is the most important thing we do.  Walter indicated that it appears that many of our faculty believe it is. Walter noted that it is certainly one of our most visible services, but reiterated that the way we collect data is inadequate to our current reporting needs. Discussion ensued ranging from what resources are needed to provide good reference to the complexity of questions asked, both on and off the desk, e.g., there is a smaller number of questions off desk, but they are more complex and substantive; how do we "watch" consultation; how do we people to answer at an appropriate level and when to make referrals? 

Discussion turned to practical planning questions for the retreat, e.g., could the above questions be productively addressed in a half-day retreat; who would be invited to attend; how could we facilitate participation by staff members and GAs?  The idea of making the retreat day long was also discussed, as was the question of whether an outside facilitator might be engaged to lead the program. 

Ultimately, it was decided that early summer, perhaps May would provide more flexibility in scheduling the event. It was also suggested that at least one representative from each library providing reference desk service attend. Advance registration should be requested so that we can plan for adequate space. The ACES Heritage Room was suggested as a possible site because of the availability of small rooms in the ACES Library where break-out sessions and discussions could be held.

The charge of the working group is to plan a retreat that engages the questions of consistent policy, training, etc. for reference in the University Library; to sketch out a schedule, and to include desired outcomes to be included in a final report. 

Assessment of Reference Services

Walter and Kern plan to explore the READ (Reference Effort Assessment Data) program that looks not so much at the numbers of reference events as the complexity of those events. It is assumed that models for assessment of reference services will be a focal point for the proposed Reference Retreat.

Mestre asked how people are reporting in-depth reference consultations.  Rudasill indicated there is a customization feature in Desk Tracker that allows one to indicate the questions and kinds of information users have brought to the reference desk. Walter asked where reference was occurring if it was not happening at the reference desk, and suggested that we may be inconsistent across the Library in keeping track of the in-depth reference consultation that is occurring in our offices.

Review of Directory Information

Walter had sent an e-mail related to concerns that had been expressed about the nature of our directory listings on the Library Gateway, e.g., . "there are several units listed as 'Library Locations' (a page that resolves at the other end of a link from the Gateway called 'Find a Library') that are not 'libraries,' or even public service units."  Discussion ensued on various ways in which this perceived problem might be addressed.  What is an office?  What about virtual units?  A part of the problem exists with no-subject specialists that need to be listed as well as an easy way to do a staff and departmental listing.  Dougan asked if the objective is to have just one list (as opposed to the multiple listings of "libraries," "staff," departments," and "subject specialists")?  Is the current text leading users to what they want? Slater indicated his research on Web site use suggests many ways that the current model disconnects the users from what they need. Slater will take the issue to the Web Content WG for input.