The Reference Desk is Gone 6

Jeff  Trzeciak writes:

After much planning and hard work the last of our reference desks is gone! Our library has completed the transition to “blended services” where library assistants handle most of the transactions at combined service points (circulation, interlibrary loan, research help). Our business library was the first to go in this direction around one year ago followed by our science/engineering library. Finally, I came in this morning to find that the last of our reference desks is now gone!

Between 2009-2010 our Research Help Desk answered 21771 questions. As with many ARL libraries this number is down substantially. In 2005/2006 the desks answered 40934 questions and the number has declined steadily since. Now our users will have the convenience of a single service point and librarians will have their time freed up for interactions with faculty in their labs, offices and classrooms.

Congratulations to everyone who made the transition and thank you to those who supported it!

The bold is mine – this plan for service beyond the walls of the library is an important step toward ubiquitous library service on the campus – and beyond!

6 thoughts on “The Reference Desk is Gone

  • Steven

    Well done! I think nothing short of holy water and a silver bullet will do for ours. All the more galling as staffing the reference desk is the usually-quoted reason for our not developing reference and information services fit for the late 20th Century (the 21st is but a dream…)

  • JJR

    Is this what passes for progress these days?


    My apologies for being an old fogey born before 1990, but what the HELL!? Where does one seek assistance now, the circ desk?
    Be lucky if you can flag down a busy cybrarian floating through the stacks fidgeting with her tricked out iPhone? Hope you can catch her in 2nd Life?


    In real life, I’m a flaming lefty-liberal but when it comes to library science, I am most certainly a Conservative in the best sense of the term…

    The lunatics are running the asylum…

  • mara

    I don’t understand. How is a “research help” desk different from a reference desk? Is it that it’s not staffed by professionals?

    I think I need a lot more information about the set-up to even understand what’s being done.

  • Mackly

    Congrats to McMaster!! Its clear from where I work that the real reference/research questions are becoming few and far between and the technical support (IT) questions rule my 4 hour shifts at the Reference desk. *Steven (the first commenter)is right…. I don’t understand why it takes so much effort to change a service that will better serve our patrons. Why do we need to have them parade from desk to desk for assistance? Common people (ref librarians) don’t be afraid to learn how to check out a book or work along side a student desk workers. Its really not that bad and you gain more skills that will make your employer want to keep you.

  • Library Dinosaur

    So you overload an already circulation desk with reference questions? I don’t think that’s the smartest move. You’ll still have staff directing patrons to shelves, locating that perfect book, taking in fines, signing up people for library cards, ask for directions, computer troubleshooting help. That desk will have even longer lines. But I guess in an academic setting, priorities can be different.

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