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Where is the Reference Desk at W. W. Hagerty Library?

By John Wiggins, Director of Library Services & Quality Improvement and Beth Ten Have, Director of Library Academic Partnerships

A big change was made at W. W. Hagerty at the start of summer quarter – the Reference Desk was removed! It may appear to have been an abrupt change, and is certainly a noticeable one, but it was the result of months of research and planning. Now, W. W. Hagerty Library patrons can get assistance at a single location, simplifying where to seek help for those who were unsure in the past.

How did we develop this solution? We reviewed the multitude of evidence collected during interactions with library users.

While reviewing the data collected, it became increasingly clear that we were duplicating services – answering similar questions from the Circulation Desk and Reference Desk –increasing the cost of and decreasing the depth of our services. Data showed that over 80% of reference interactions duplicated the directional assistance already provided at the Circulation Desk.

Individuals who staffed the Reference Desk were largely professional librarians who have experience in guiding individuals in their research, instruction and learning, while individuals at the Circulation Desk are largely well-trained and capable para-professional staff and student workers who can assist users in locating “known items,” such as a specific title.

Directing all users to the Circulation Desk as a single point of assistance will provide efficient access to patrons. From there, individuals with more detailed research assistance needs will be directed to the professional librarian on call to assist with consultations. All of the services provided at the Reference Desk are still available, only the pathway has changed.

Users who know in advance that they need detailed reference assistance can schedule an appointment directly with the librarian of their choice through the Book a Reference Consultation button in the upper right corner of the Libraries’ homepage. Research and reference consultations are available in person, on the phone at 215-895-2767, via email or via chat.

Two additional stations were added for the quick look up of known items, and existing scanning equipment was moved to a convenient and easily accessible central location, which completed the transition.

Share your feedback on this change and other Libraries services, staff, facilities, and collections by visiting our user questionnaire. We hope to hear from you!

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