Pull quote: “The design of the desk should be more transparent and inviting, rather than a huge barrier/bunker that guards/walls the library staff from the patrons. We should have adjustable comfortable seating for our patrons, should they like to sit down for a longer conversation at the service desk.”

Pull quote: “Perhaps more than any other mode of reference interaction, individual research consultations enable librarians to extend what goes on in the classroom, either by adding our own subject knowledge, or by questioning students about theirs. Because consultations give students and librarians more time and space, grappling with difficult and complex research questions is more likely to become an intellectually interesting and rewarding collaboration. In contrast, dealing with complex research questions at the reference desk or through online modes of communication is often stressful and frustrating because the librarian feels pressure to ‘dispense with’ the student more quickly to help other waiting patrons.”

Pull quote: “At SUNY Geneseo, we wanted to know what students were learning via reference transactions, beyond typical counts of reference questions or user satisfaction surveys. These reference transactions occur in several settings, including at the reference desk, during scheduled reference consultations, and through impromptu questions at various locations. Building on assessment techniques such as the One Minute Paper traditionally used in library instruction settings, students were given a survey after each reference transaction that simply asked ‘What did you learn today from your meeting with the librarian?’”

Pull quote: “[D]uring term time we spend on average about fifteen minutes a week giving research help to each of under one per cent of our students.”

Pull quote: “I want my library to be more like the Apple store. I want there to be staff visible in the library space but not sitting at desks. I want them to be, for example, near the catalog or at key entrances to the stacks. I want to be able to identify them as staff so I can approach them if I have a question — it just takes a colorful T-shirt to accomplish this. I want them to be mobile, not glued to one spot. I want them to be in the same space as I am, not separated out to staff-only spaces. I want them to have their tools with them, perhaps a tablet where we can access the catalog and various resources together, right where we are. Even the shelvers could be equiped with the ability to send an SMS to the reference staff and either queue the person up for help or get an answer directly.”

Pull quote: [I]n a few months I’ll be teaching Reference for the first time in a few years. I’ve thought for a long time that INLS 501, and Reference courses in general, need dramatic revamping… and if that was true two years ago, it’s even more so now. (Whether Reference should any longer be a required core course in LS programs is another issue entirely, one about which I have strong opinions, but which I will not address here. Another rant for another time.) So now’s my big chance: I have the summer to completely redesign 501. The problem is, I’m not on the front lines of reference and other customer-facing services in a library these days. So, gentle readers, I need your help.”

Pull quote: “The library should totally partner up! We could have a table with 3-5 librarians wherever the debate is being shown. The librarians would have laptops or other Internet-connected devices. As the debate takes place, the librarians would be live fact-checking, pulling up data to clarify crazy accusations, finding local information that new policies might impact or disrupt, etc.”

Pull quote: “I googled for similar services and came across the phenomenon of the “Stack Overflow clone.” The idea: q&a around some sort of common interest, usually with user-submitted answers, indications of user trust/authority, the ability to designate a “best answer,” social tagging etc. The genre extends from the lamentable Yahoo! Answers the recently buzzworthy Quora, not to mention Stack Overflow itself. Often Q&A’s will be a portion of some larger site—think Metafilter’s Ask MeFi, MakeUseOf Answers, etc. (There’s probably something interesting to say about the relationship between Q&A sites and general discussion forums but I’ll leave that alone.) Stack Overflow appears to be seen as the starting point for Q&A platforms.”

Pull quote: “When it comes to interacting with the library via technology, 37 percent were extremely unlikely to ask a librarian a question via text/SMS/MMS/Web, and another 21 percent said it was unlikely. Some 34 percent said they’d be ‘fairly likely,’ ‘likely,’ or ‘extremely likely’ to do so. However this may have more to do with a dislike of mediated help of any kind than with technology: 45 percent say they never seek face to face help from a librarian, and another 35 percent did so once a semester or less. Of those who did interact with librarians, it was almost always after ‘push’ from a professor.”

Pull quote: “Consider libraries as kitchens, not grocery stores — quoting consultant Joan Frye Williams, Kong emphasized the potential for libraries to be a generative community resource, rather than something more like a warehouse. The new digital media lab in Arlington Heights, for example, gives users access to more media creation and editing technology than is available anywhere else in the community.”

Pull quote: “Kuhl explained that the Arlington Heights library knew that a change was necessary when a review of statistics from the past ten years showed an 85% drop in the number of reference questions answered, and that 94% of the reference collection was never used. To those who claim that more marketing will bring the statistics back up, Kuhl counters that that’s a waste of time, pointing out that ‘we were doing well and didn’t do anything different. That’s the problem.’”