Monday, April 13, 2009

REFolution Conference in Hershey PA

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the REFolution Conference sponsored by PALINET, now called Lyrasis.

The pre-conference was a QuestionPoint user's group meeting. It was certainly nice to be able to put faces with names of the QuestionPoint staff. It was also nice to hear how other states like PA and NJ are utilizing the service. MD is certainly ahead of the curve as far as marketing and training.

One of the more useful breakout sessions I attended was entitled The READ Scale: Using Qualitative Data to Record Levels of Effort and Expertise in Answering Reference Questions. Instead of hash marks which we all do to keep track of Reference statistics, the READ scale measures the quality as well as quantity. The
R - Reference
E - Effort
A - Assessment
D - Data
scale is a six point sliding scale that asks librarians to assign a number based on effort, knowledge, skill, and teachable moment instead of a hash mark.

Lynn Berard of Carnegie Mellon University and Bella Karr Gerlich of Dominican University developed the scale in order to more accurately measure what reference librarians are really doing.

The system seems pretty easy to implement, but employee buy-in is critical to make it work. If done properly a library will be able to accurately access how hard its librarians are really working and when are the busiest times of the day. For more information on this link here: THE READ SCALE

The other session that I also found particularly interesting was Meeting User Needs Through New Reference Service Models. This presentation focused on things like Reference desk design, signage, and handheld devices. Something as simple as having the patron sitting at the Reference desk to have a one-on-one interaction can make a difference. I also particularly like the idea of dual monitors so the patron can see on her own monitor what the librarian is doing.

Penn State library did a study on handheld devices that can be seen here. If your library is interested in purchasing this kind of device you should check this out.

Overall I found it a worthwhile conference, but like so many of the larger library conferences it was academically oriented and I would really like to see a conference geared toward public libraries and their unique needs.

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