More on the Reference Desk is Gone

Jeff Trzeciak provides more information about McMaster University Library’s transformation to blended services:

(bold emphasis is mine)

In other words, only around 40% are really “research-related” questions.  The remaining 60% are largely directional.  In a subsequent blog post I reported on the breakdown between in-person, email and IM transactions.  These statistics indicate that only 82% of the volume is taking place within one of our buildings.  The remaining 18% is virtual.

So, a decline of nearly 2/3 from our high, coupled with 18% of the assistance now being virtual and only 40% being research-related.  Sounds like a candidate for transformation if you ask me.

So, over a year ago we got our best thinking staff and librarians together and charged them with the task of “blended services”.  They put together a remarkable training program to train the paraprofessional staff to ensure that they were prepared and that our users were still receiving the best possible service.  Over the past year or so we’ve moved all three of our libraries to single service points where users can circulate materials, get their ILLs and reserve materials or get assistance.

Since implementing the change the library has also participated in LibQUAL 2010.  The results seem to indicate an improvement in the “aspect of service” over our 2007 report.  However, the social sciences/humanities library had not yet changed to single service point at the time of the survey in 2010.  (Scientists/engineers show a clear improvement).  This is just one measure but it provides at least some indication.

There are a number of fine examples of work that our librarians are doing in collaboration with faculty.  However, I will focus on one program, Integrated Science (iSci), where one of our librarians (Andrew Colgoni) is “embedded”.  Since Andrew is freed from traditional reference desk duties he is able to spend more time (more meaningful time) working directly with faculty and students in the iSci program.  He and the program director (Dr. Carolyn Eyles) have written an article on the collaborationIt is this type of collaboration that is the future of our libraries, not our reference desks.

I hope this helps provide the additional background info that some of you requested.