Focus on Facts: Trend in academic libraries to remove librarians from desk or keep them on for minimal hours McMaster is currently working on new Blended Service desks University of Western Ontario Science Library has already done so St. Michaels College at University of Toronto is now moving to this staffing model
Focus on Facts: Academic Librarians are involved with many other activities; not enough time to do it all properly David Lewis proposes a new focus for Academic Libraries from Library 1.0 to Library 2.0
Library 1.0Library 2.0 Collections Standalone tools, resources and expertise Bureaucratic Careful Predictable Safe Reference/Cataloguing core Primary informal learning space on campus Embedded in teaching, learning and research Nimble Chaotic and exciting Uncertain Risk taking Teaching and Learning core David W. Lewis A Strategy for Academic Libraries in the First Quarter of the 21st Century, 2007
Reference librarians were moved to on call status… Murphy, B. et al. Revolution at the Library Service Desk, Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 27(4), Winter 2008 [Steven] Bell argued for the abolition of the reference desk by the year 2012. Dagger, J. Brave New World: Reference librarians in the age of Google, Duke Magazine, Sept-Oct 2008. …as long as there is reference activity in a library building, non-ALA accredited personnel will be a part of it and in the future may play an even greater role. Banks, J. and C. Pracht. Reference Desk Staffing Trends: A survey, Reference & User Services Quarterly, 48(1), Fall 2008, 54-59. What is the literature saying?
The number of questions being asked is declining, but the complexity and difficulty in the questions is increasing Librarians on Desk? YES
The decline in reference statistics is caused by a number of different factors, including: persistent library anxiety an increasing belief that searching is simple Librarians on Desk? YES
Massive amounts of information available online makes the role of a librarian even more key As subjects become more interdisciplinary, the need for expert voices in search becomes an essential role for the library Librarians on Desk? YES
The nature of the questions has shifted and although many inquires appear to be simple, a reference interview can uncover a misunderstanding of the research process… Librarian on Desk? YES
What about the numbers? Librarian on Desk? YES Applegate, Rachel. Whose Decline? Which Academic Libraries are Deserted in Terms of Reference Transactions? Reference & User Quarterly, 48.2 (Winter 2008) pp. 176-189.
The Millennial students have changed the nature of the academic environment and can Google with ease, but this does not mean that there is a greater depth of knowledge in research Perhaps the questions shouldnt be librarians on the desk? but how can the librarians on the desk reach more users? Librarians on Desk? YES
Not every student is a tech-savvy millennial Diversity in the student population, in terms of educational background, age, and economic strata will effect their interaction with the library and the technology therein Librarians on Desk? YES
In Person vs. Email vs. IM/Chat vs. 2.0 and beyond.. How does tiered service function? Librarians on Desk? YES
Library-As-Place The Reference Desk as a Hub Librarians on Desk? YES
Connection… To the students To the community To the current concerns/assignments/subjects Librarians need to be in the classroom, they need to be in the departments, however, with out the desk, they may lose connection & context with the students Librarians on Desk? YES
Lessons in social interaction? Lessons in seeking assistance? What about a different kind of desk? Virtual and physical space Mobile Desk Librarians on Desk? YES
What do you think? Show of hands for No, Librarians off the desk Show of hands for Yes, Librarians on the desk The Debate is over!
Now we want to know why! Please feel free to comment on the debate The count is in…
Understanding the community is more important Mixed service has already been proven Librarians on-call can stay in touch Going out into the community will allow librarians to keep in contact Funding issues Fewer deep reference questions Students dont know/care about different desks/staff Combining the desks can be effective Good Library Technician support How much expertise can a librarian apply to an undergrad? Formally trained library staff is good enough Your comments: Off the desk
Dont want to lose touch with the user Statistics can lie First impressions are important and lasting Get contact with users Librarians should be providing leadership and expertise at the desk as well as elsewhere Referrals dont always worktime issues Librarians save time Use desk time as a reality check (comment from administrator) Get the students perspective Connection developed with library staff If on call, does staff on desk know when to call on duty librarian? Experience is invaluable How else do you truly keep up to date? Formal library education is very important and applicable to desk Use as a collection development tool as well Your comments: On the desk
Feel free to continue the conversation with us Donna Millard firstname.lastname@example.org@mcmaster.ca Michelle Lake email@example.com@gmail.com Our slides will be posted on the Conference site. Thanks for your participation