USF St. Petersburg campus Faculty Publications


Transitioning Online Reference Staffing Models: Assessing and Balancing Needs of Patrons and Practitioners

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Emily Mann

Document Type


Publication Date



Print: 0276-3877 Online: 1541-1117


As staffing models evolve for academic library service points, online chat reference services require strategic analysis to improve efficiency and effectiveness. This paper will examine the perception of chat reference before and after staffing changes from faculty librarians, staff, and graduate assistants to non-MLIS library professionals and graduate assistants at Florida State University’s a large, public research university library. Our survey explores satisfaction levels and perception of both patrons and library personnel before and after the staffing change.

Our analysis of 197 patron survey results determined that patrons are equally satisfied with non-librarian provision of chat reference services and found chat interactions to be comparable in quality and timeliness to chats staffed by librarians. Our research into staffer survey results revealed a slight decrease in satisfaction with operation of the service, notably in terms of confidence after the staffing transition even though this was not reflected in the patron satisfaction levels. This assessment indicates that library workers are equally as competent in staffing chat reference services as librarians from patron perspectives. As academic libraries continue to measure the value of staffing service desks with librarians, this study will provide relevant insight into how patrons and staffers are affected by changes in staffing models.


Taylor & Francis