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dc.contributor.authorStratton, John M.
dc.contributor.authorDevlin, Frances A.
dc.description.abstractThis poster provides information about the changes that have occurred in reference services at the University of Kansas (KU) Libraries since 2002. Our intent is to illustrate the evolution of thinking about reference services in the last few years, based on our experiences, to provide information to others contending with this same issue.

We will illustrate how our services have been influenced by the progression of assessment activities designed both to build a culture of assessment and to gather information about user behavior and expectations on our campus. Assessment activities include the campus-wide administration of LibQual (completed three times since 2000), in addition to purely local instruments and surveys designed to gauge user response to service changes. Over the last six years the evolution of reference services have both paralleled and been informed by the development of incipient assessment efforts at the University of Kansas, aimed at gathering relevant information about users in several areas, including reference services within the Libraries.

At the University of Kansas Libraries, reference services have been reconfigured several times over the last few years. Modifications to the service were largely in response to a university campus undergoing significant technological innovations and in recognition of the need to adjust traditional services to meet changing user expectations. Those changes that were considered and ultimately advanced on an organization-wide basis were expressions of organizational strategies explicitly chosen by the Libraries administration to position reference services in ways deemed more favorable to engage with university constituents: the faculty, students and staff who comprise our community of users.

For many years, KU Libraries offered traditional, desk-bound reference services at the two largest libraries on campus – Watson and Anschutz libraries. However, KU Libraries sought to redefine its reference services in 2002 to take advantage of changing user behaviors and technologically-enhanced access to informational and scholarly resources and to better utilize library faculty time. Some of these changes included all or some of the following initiatives: combined service desks, design and implementation of a “peer and tier” model that relied on student workers as front line service attendants supported by librarians in reserve; paraprofessional staff (i.e., not librarians) presence at the desks; cross-training staff members of other departments to provide reference services; combined circulation/reference service points; and vigorous approaches to training of all desk personnel. At the same time, initiatives in chat and other virtual reference services were inaugurated to provide users significantly greater latitude in contacting the libraries for reference and research assistance.

With the hiring of a new Dean of Libraries in 2006 and an assessment of the changes introduced over the previous four years, reference services is once more transforming its approach to public service. Recent changes have been greatly informed by debate about service-related issues such as ensuring the continued relevancy of reference in an era of increasing self-service; remaining user-centered and focused on community needs; adding value to services provided; and seeking ways to deploy technological tools that can be personalized to meet immediate user needs.
dc.description.sponsorshipLibrary Assessment Conference, Seattle WA, August 4-6, 2008
dc.subjectReference services
dc.title"No two directions are ever the same": Transforming reference services
kusw.oapolicyThis item does not meet KU Open Access policy criteria.

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