A Holistic Look at Reference Statistics: Whither Librarians?

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academic librarianship, reference, statistics, planning

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Objective: Washington State University (WSU) Pullman campus librarians track a diverse set of reference statistics to gain a “holistic” look at local reference transaction trends. Our aim was to aggregate virtual, reference desk and office transaction data over the course of three years to determine staffing levels. Specifically, we asked “Where should reference librarians be to answer questions?”

Methods: Using Springshare’s LibAnalytics, we generated longitudinal (2012-2014) statistics and data, to help us assess the patterns and trends of patron question numbers, types, communication modes, and locations in the Terrell Library. With this data, we considered current staffing patterns and how we could best address patron needs.

Results: Researchers found that compiling data across modalities of location, communication, question type, and the READ Scale led to a better understanding of user behavior trends.

Conclusion: Examining and interpreting a more inclusive and richer set of transaction statistics gives reference managers a better picture of how patrons are seeking help, and can serve as a basis for making staffing decisions.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, v. 10, issue 4, p. 173-185