RLI 282 Evolving Models of Reference Staffing at the University of Kansas Libraries 23 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2013 Current State Since 2007, even with no established “reference department” within the KU Libraries, reference services has come to rely on a core group of librarians, library staff from other units, and graduate student assistants to provide reference services at the combined reference and circulation desks. The cohort of staff who provide these services are housed in several library departments, including Research Services, Instructional Services, Collections, Preservation, Acquisitions, and Cataloging. In addition, the number of graduate students working evening and weekend hours in both Watson and Anschutz Libraries has been doubled. While the Watson reference and circulation services are still offered from one central service point, Anschutz Library was converted in 2009 to a “learning studio” environment, designed to accommodate student needs in a more comprehensive and holistic way. Part of that reconfiguration resulted in the establishment of a service island—a shared information desk—where staff from IT, reference, and Student Success now work in concert to identify and respond to a variety of student questions and make appropriate referrals. Due to its past success, the research specialists program was reinforced and formalized as a way to continue to address staffing needs for the desks. Each volunteer was required to have supervisory permission and agree to a list of expectations for working at the desks, including the following: Commit to 4 hours of desk time each week. Attend all training sessions as scheduled. Attend the monthly reference/instruction meetings. The table below depicts the total numbers of various staff and the hours worked per week at Anschutz and Watson Libraries from 2006 thru 2012. On average, the number of librarians has remained consistent at about 16 staff, as has the number of research specialists. However, the number of graduate student assistants has increased dramatically over the years as a result of staff reassignments and shifting schedule needs. In 2006, librarians generally worked at the reference desk six hours per week, and by 2012, averaged between two and four hours per week. Essentially librarians’ time commitment for reference desk duties has been reduced by approximately 50% (i.e., decreased from 80 hours to 42 hours per week between the two desks.) Table. Reference Staffing Levels at Anschutz and Watson Desks, 2006–2012 2006 2008 2010 2012 Staff Level No. Weekly Hr. No. Weekly Hr. No. Weekly Hr. No. Weekly Hr. Librarian 15 80 18 80 16 52 15 42 Research Specialist 14 102 17 96 16 84 15 56 Graduate Student 5 35 4 33 5 40 9 60 Total 34 217 39 209 37 176 39 158
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