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Task Force on Information and Reference Services within Doe and Moffitt
Task Force Report
        Transmittal Letter
I.      Background & Charge
II.     The Vision
III.    Reference & Research
        Service Configuration
           New Model  |  Location Issues
IV.    Distinguishing Levels of Service
V.     Programmatic Spatial Changes
VI.    Publicity & Marketing
Appendix 1:  Task Force Charge
Appendix 2:  Membership Roster
Appendix 3:  Methodology & Definitions
Appendix 4:  Doe/Moffitt Subject Specialties
Appendix 5:  Documents Consulted
Appendix 6:  Library Organization Chart
Appendix 7:  Background to Recommendation 4
Appendix 8:  Bibliography

I.  Background & Charge
The Task Force on Information and Reference Services within Doe and Moffitt was appointed in November 1999 by University Librarian Gerald Lowell. He asked us to examine the condition of reference and information services in the Doe and Moffitt libraries, particularly the serious erosion in the quality and effectiveness of reference service and collections that has occurred through years of disruptive seismic renovation and staff reductions, and to propose a constructive redesign of those services and collections.  We were asked to address such issues as the kinds of reference and information services needed by each of the clienteles we serve, the number and physical locations of service points, and the information resources and staffing (levels, hours, training) required to support these services.  See Appendices 1-3 for the Task Force charge, membership roster, the methodology we have followed, and definitions of key terms. See also a bibliography of related readings in Appendix 8.

In considering these issues, the Task Force quickly recognized the equal seriousness of the expanding use and availability of digital library resources.  Besides examining issues of service location and staffing, the Task Force therefore considered these larger questions: what is the purpose of a physical collection of reference materials, including computer terminals, and the role of reference staff, in an age when many users may never need to enter a Reference Room?  What are the best practices for the library to stay in touch with its patrons, add value and ensure quality reference services?
II. The Vision
The Task Force envisions a reinvigorated reference and research environment for the users of the Doe and Moffitt Libraries.  The new Doe/Moffitt Reference and Research Service, conceived as a single unit with complementary service points in Doe and Moffitt and served by an expert and well-trained staff, will provide convenient access to expanded research and reference collections and offer both in-person and remote reference and research service at all levels in the disciplines collected in Doe and Moffitt Libraries.  In our vision the Doe/Moffitt Reference and Research Service is located at the centers of library activity: the current Moffitt Information Gateway and the first floor of Doe Library.

The following recommendations are built on and express this vision.
 

III. Reference & Research Service Configuration
A. New Model for Reference & Research Service
Recommendation 1:    The Task Force's overarching recommendation is to create the Doe/Moffitt Reference & Research Service, a user-centered, complementary reference and research service for Doe and Moffitt Libraries, integrating humanities and social sciences reference service in Doe and Moffitt Libraries.  Managed as a single unit, the Doe/Moffitt Reference & Research Service will deliver its services with a core staff whose primary assignment is to provide reference service.  The audience for the Doe/Moffitt Reference Service is members of the campus community (faculty, graduate and undergraduate students) requiring assistance with humanities, social sciences, government documents, and area studies research and materials, as well as visiting scholars, independent researchers, and members of the surrounding community, including users of government depository materials.
 
Recommendation 8:  Create an on-going reference training program for Doe/Moffitt reference staff to build and sustain staff competencies.  The training program will cover both basic reference skills and training in specialized subjects or formats through a variety of training activities, for example:  library staff workshops given by library staff, subject specialists' presentations, database vendor workshops, small group investigations of new reference tools, reviewing and analyzing new reference sources, participating in continuing education programs organized by local, regional, state and national associations, and cross-training programs to introduce reference staff to collections and services in other units and libraries.

Required skill sets include:  interpersonal/interviewing skills, library online systems search and Internet navigational skills, content knowledge of sources, knowledge of the reference and bibliography collection, as well as knowledge of systemwide resources, collections and policies.  This list is by no means comprehensive and should be amplified through discussion with the Doe/Moffitt reference staff.

Rationale:  Staff bring varied levels of experience and competencies to the reference desk.  To ensure quality and consistency of service all reference staff must have the knowledge and preparation required to meet the research and information needs of The Library's diverse community of users.


B. Location Issues:
(See also Recommendation 4 and Appendix 7 for additional discussion of location issues.)

Recommendation 9: The Task Force recommends that the Information Center space continue to provide an open bank of networked workstations, located in relatively close proximity to the Doe Circulation Department, for the convenience of those who need to use the online catalogs and other systems but do not require reference and research services. We recommend that this area be staffed on a limited basis, in order to provide a staff "presence," troubleshoot and report hardware problems, assist with basic questions involving the catalogs and databases, and refer users to the Reference & Research Center or other appropriate desk. Assistance in this entry corridor might also be provided via intercom telephones or electronic "chat" or videoconferencing through the public workstations.
 

Recommendation 10:  In order to assist users in navigating Doe Library, the Task Force recommends that the door monitor kiosks at the south and north entrances of Doe Library become information kiosks, staffed by student library employees.  Currently the kiosk staff informally provide directional assistance; we recommend that kiosk staff be formally charged with this responsibility and receive appropriate training.  The kiosk staff would continue to monitor exiting patrons.  The Task Force recommends that the kiosk staff report to the AUL-Doe/Moffitt, the office responsible for Doe public service

Rationale:  We anticipate an increased need for directional assistance to help mitigate the interim absence of a significant reference or information point on the first floor of Doe Library.


Recommendation 11: The Task Force recommends that assistance be provided to library users with locational questions in the Gardner Stacks.  Doe Circulation shelvers could be trained to assist Gardner Stacks users who need help locating a book, for instance.  In addition, we recommend that The Library explore technological means for stack users to communicate with reference staff.  Possibilities might include courtesy phones directly linked to reference staff and real-time online reference assistance.
 

 IV. Distinguishing Levels of Service

The Task Force recognizes that there will always be library users who are unaware of or indifferent to the distinctions we wish to make between the Moffitt Library Information Gateway  (introductory-level reference only)  and the Doe Library Research Center (comprehensive-level reference).   We think, however, that The Library can assist users in choosing the best starting place, and have identified some strategies for distinguishing levels of service:
V. Programmatic Spatial Changes
The Task Force has identified the following spatial changes necessitated by the recommended reference service model:
  • Information Center:  Move collections and possibly install more computer workstations.
  • GSSI:  Move some collections; remove reference desk .
  • Doe Subject Hall:  Install wiring for electrical, data and phone lines; install shelving for the print collection; and construct a reference desk. Significantly increase the number of Library Information System computer workstations and add a printer station. Reconfigure the space to integrate new furnishings with existing study tables, LIS workstations, stand-alone CD-ROM workstations, microfiche cabinets and reader-printers and copier.
  • North Reading Room:  Remove the reference desk; rearrange the print reference collection; reconfigure the movable shelves.
  • Information Gateway:  Install shelving and print collections; move computer workstations.

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    VI. Publicity & Marketing for the Doe/Moffitt Reference Service
    Recommendation 12: The Task Force recommends the following strategies for publicizing the Doe/Moffitt Reference Service:
  • Submit notices and advertisements to campus media.
  • Distribute announcements to appropriate campus e-mail reflectors and mailing lists, including academic units.
  • Provide descriptive material for campus and library tour guides.
  • Install signage throughout the Library system, and especially at the Moffitt Library entrance and the Doe Library north and south entrances.
  • Distribute regular announcements to instructors and bibliographic instruction sessions.
  • Distribute announcements to various campus e-mail reflectors.
  • Use Library media to advertise, e.g., The Library Web site and Bene Legere.
  • Create an online newsletter to communicate news relevant to all Doe/Moffitt services, i.e., Doe/Moffitt Quarterly, targetted to our primary constituents. The newsletter would be a primary vehicle for highlighting reference services, collections and resources.
  • Leaflet the campus residence halls.
  • Use word-of-mouth advertising: orient student employees throughout the library system to the Doe/Moffitt Reference Service.  They'll tell their friends.
  • Strengthen the library system referral network via staff meetings to announce the new reference service and through on-going training.
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