Presentation on theme: "Moving to Online Reference Statistics: Brockport's LibStats Experience Charles Cowling and Mary Jo Orzech For general questions contact Charlie Cowling,"— Presentation transcript:
Moving to Online Reference Statistics: Brockport's LibStats Experience Charles Cowling and Mary Jo Orzech For general questions contact Charlie Cowling, firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions regarding installation and setup, contact Logan Rath, email@example.com.
We used a clipboard & tally sheet to record our reference desk stats, and total the responses. This had certain advantages: It would have been hard to run online stats software before we had PCs at the reference desk ;-) It was easy and convenient.
Why? Management wanted ready access to stats, and was interested in the “difficulty” of questions… There was a desire to assess not only the amount but the nature of traffic and staff needed to serve patrons.
Also, non-reference librarians worked the reference desk infrequently in the past, but some were now working the desk once a week and interested in a better way to share information. It was hoped that an online system for stats would allow recording of enhanced stats and permit recording of questions and answers as a sort of “knowledge base.”
Footprints is commercial IT helpdesk software. It has it’s points, but is aimed more at tracking and following up on questions than may be needed or helpful at a reference desk. It seemed clunky to use for librarians. It was worth a try though, and helped us think more clearly about what we wanted.
For better communication of issues we shifted from a paper desk log, and relocated that log to WordPress. The DrakeRef Blog is at drakeref.wordpress.com. It serves as a bulletin board for reference desk staff, and continues as a helpful complement to our LibStats application.
We surveyed our SUNY colleagues, and the literature, and LibStats sounded good. It was implemented at the beginning of Fall 2009, so we have had a year of experience with it. We are pleased with it, and would recommend it to others looking for such software.
LibStats is open source software available at code.google.com. It was designed by two librarians at the University of Wisconsin, Eric Larsen & Nate Vack. The Google site has links to download it, and details of server needed, etc. It was not difficult to install or maintain.
It is easy to modify LibStats categories etc. We were able to set up different dashboards, e.g., one that the reference librarian sees and one that the reference student assistant sees. It allows for entry of narrative recording of Q&A, which we do as time permits and as seems helpful. Overall, our experience with LibStats has been a positive one and worth the effort to transition to it.
To address assessment, how much are librarians needed at the desk etc., we devised a simple 1-3 scale. 1 is easiest, 3 is hardest. It’s subjective, all such scales are, but we tried to keep it simple: 1 is for no brainer questions, where’s the restroom, printer needs paper, do you have a certain book… 2 is more involved – if the book is out, what are the options, explaining a database in more depth. 3 is most complex, explanation of multiple resources, extensive use of reference interview etc.
LibStats allows reporting by time of day, weekday, initials of person, types of question, etc. For example, 25% of our questions still concern finding books. We receive more IM’s now than phone calls, 13% to 8%. The scale of difficulty shows only 7-8% of the questions are #3, the hardest, but they are scattered randomly, it would be hard to say, “this is a time where a librarian is not needed.”