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Special Interest Group Archive: Reference 03/07/2018

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.

March 7, 2018

The second reference SIG met at Southeastern on March 7, 2018. These are notes from the meeting.



Review Reference SIG from November – “how we go here”

  • Print vs online  resources
  • Reference materials print – should they circulate?
  • Reference interview – when do we do it for them
  • Computer skills – people don’t necessarily have them
  • Relationship building
  • How do we keep up with reference materials
  • Outreach and marketing
  • Dewey
  • Future and value of reference services

Value and Future of Reference Services – what do we want to talk about today?

Desk models:

Are students more comfortable approaching other students or staff? It depends on the institution!

Research to support a model where the reference librarian isn’t staffing the reference desk. Open up the library to previously staff only spaces. Research services consultation office, in previous staff only spaces of the library.

Visibility is extremely important.

At another academic, more time at the desk is paying off. Students pass questions to the librarian.


Or is it?

At large public library, the desks are always staffed. The information desk is busier than the reference desk. The reference desk is near the public computers, so this is most of the business.

First year experience program, where all librarians are involved has led to increased reference traffic. This drives more traffic to librarians for appointments. This encourages other classes to come to librarians for instruction. Pop-in questions aren’t as frequent, better reference is happening through the first year experience program.  More time with students as an outcome of these classes. Reference desk is staffed all day by a librarian.

Public library – small with only one adult reference librarian. Reference desk is near the circulation. Circulation gets asked all the reference questions.  Tough to get patrons to come directly to the reference librarian.

At another public library, the library is excited to have a reference desk and librarian. But is it being used?

At small public library with reference librarian, who isn’t there all the time, how to get patrons to know to utilize them?

Are the actual hours when on desk useful at a small public library? Is this the best use of the librarians time?

Use changing models as an opportunity to market and promote services.

Future and value of reference, is our desk model reflecting our value?

What about other professions, they’re not just sitting out available for people to approach them, they make appointments.


At academic libraries, get into as may classes as possible

Faculty and student buy-in is essential

Roving reference vs interrupting

For academic, what is our value and how do we stay sustainable. Need appointments scheduling system, buy-in from faculty, and getting into the classroom.

For public librarians, what is our value and how do we stay sustainable. One on one appointment for computer training. Problems with no shows.

One on one seems to be big and successful.


More on future and value of reference?


Best Practices in Marketing of Reference Services

Market research help.

What do you use to market?

Very print heavy, but is it used?

Online calendar

Put flyers online, which can stay current and easy to update

Constant contact blast – e-newsletter

But….maybe there is some value to the print flyers and brochures?

Academic library – heavily rely on online website promotions

What materials do you use to promote reference?

Business cards

Libguides- lists the services offered by the library (Lib wizard to make forms)

Facebook page


Signage is a problem. They don’t read what’s on the sign

Rotating display of events at the library webpage.

In print, numerous display of library events.

Public library – print.  Just the right amount.  Brochures.  The print is more effective than the online presence. But they do have Facebook, which is effective for the regulars. Paper print newsletter.  Service brochures, and welcome brochures, for new card holders. Possibly mail a brochure to someone after they sign up for a new card. Take flyers to senior center or other places off site. Signage outside the building, like large electronic signs or LED signs.

Advertise in the local magazine or newspaper. Establish a relationship with a publication. Take advantage of free calendars.

Do these promotions correlate to increased attendance?

Get an event listed in an institution wide email or portal where things get announced.

Ask library users, what do YOU want to see in these materials? We should get a sense for impact of the promotions we use.

People like different modes for getting their information. Which is why we have redundancy.

Outreach and promotion of Resources

Best practices:

Extra credit for students.

Party to promote new research center

Edible book festival, held annually in April like:

Bookface Friday

Many social media options.  You need to plan well. But better to choose one to focus on first, before delving into other media, like Instagram or snapchat. Make sure to pay attention to some of the social media tricks. Consistency is key. Shareable click, which is a group that shares popular social media post, or ideas for text that will get shared. Need a social medial plan that engages people.

Getting into the classroom, and why this is valuable.  This works best when librarian in the classroom is there to work with them on a specific assignment. The students in these classes are more likely to visit the library for reference help.

Also, programs for faculty to introduce them to the library. Faculty to need to be educated to help students and make the best use of the library. Faculty need to work with the librarians on assignments sometimes. Education of your audience is key too library use too.

Where do public libraries do outreach into the community?  Drop off brochures at businesses and senior center.  Need to target places with lots of traffic. It’s hard to track down adults to do outreach.

Word of mouth is also successful.

Libguides – how is it used as a marketing tool?

Can be the foundation for the website. Research guides are core to libguides. Created a guide for each major type at the college. Libguides are also used as launching point for classes.

Link in course management class to the libguide for the subject.

Marketing tool is to send faculty the statistics from libguides.

How do public libraries use Libguides? Mostly for listing databases.

Next Reference SIG Topics

Next Reference SIG:

Reference collections and resources

Statistics and tracking and assessment

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065