Acitc mini grant fall 2009 ask a mobile librarian project
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ACITC Mini-Grant Fall 2009 Ask a Mobile Librarian Project. Project Overview. In fall 2009, librarian Rebecca Weber received an ACITC grant to experiment with the implementation of a mobile reference service on campus. Seven mobile reference sessions were held during the semester.

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Acitc mini grant fall 2009 ask a mobile librarian project

ACITC Mini-Grant Fall 2009Ask a Mobile Librarian Project

Project overview
Project Overview

  • In fall 2009, librarian Rebecca Weber received an ACITC grant to experiment with the implementation of a mobile reference service on campus.

  • Seven mobile reference sessions were held during the semester.

  • Using a Dell laptop purchased with grant funds, librarian Rebecca Weber went to several campus locations .

  • At these locations, Ms. Weber was set up to assist students with research questions or library-related issues.

Getting started
Getting Started

  • Focus groups were held to determine times, locations, and interest in a mobile reference service.

  • A student assistant was hired to help support the instructional team, assist in promotion of the mobile reference service, and allow coverage of in-library reference service during the mobile library hours.

  • Photo : Jenny Mumfrey ,Student Assistant

Recruitment and focus groups
Recruitment and Focus Groups

  • Twenty students were recruited for focus groups via announcements on FitForum.

  • There were five students per group.

  • Of the twenty students, fifteen were international students.

  • Sessions lasted about fifty minutes.

  • Students were given a $10 Barnes and Noble Gift Card as incentive for their participation.

Focus group questions
Focus Group Questions

  • Students were asked the following questions:

    • Do you currently use the library reference services? (email, phone, chat, in person)

    • How often do you use the library resources or services? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Once or twice a semester?

    • At what point in your research do you ask for help from a librarian or begin to use the library resources seriously?

Focus group questions continued
Focus Group Questions Continued

  • What time of the day would you most likely use the mobile reference service?

  • Where on campus would you most like to see the mobile reference service held?

  • Would a service available in the SUB or other places on campus make you more likely to ask a librarian for help with your research?

Focus group findings
Focus Group Findings

  • Most students in the groups used the library as a place to study.

  • Some students indicated they did not know they could ask a librarian for assistance with research.

  • Graduate students were more likely to ask a librarian for research assistance.

  • Overall students indicated that late afternoon or early evening would be a good time to hold the service.

Focus group findings continued
Focus Group Findings Continued

  • Students indicated they would use a mobile reference service if they needed it.

  • Groups suggested the SUB and the dorms most often as places to host the mobile reference service.

  • Photo : Ms. Weber and a focus group


  • Based on focus group findings and library hours, seven sessions were planned in the following locations:

    • The Denius Student Center

    • Olin Engineering

    • The Crawford Building

    • Harris Village

    • The Applied Computing Center

    • The Academic Support Center

  • Sessions were held either at 1-3 p.m. or 7-9 p.m.

  • For two of the sessions, librarians Ann Sepri and Nate Hosburgh accompanied librarian Rebecca Weber.

  • Photo: Ms. Weber assisting students

  • Promotion

    • Announcements concerning locations and times of the Ask A Mobile Librarian service were distributed via FitForum.

    • Posters were created for display in the library and other campus locations.

    • Table tents were distributed to campus dining facilities.

    • Emails were sent to the class lists.

    • Times and locations were posted on the library blog.

    Holding the sessions
    Holding the Sessions

    • Seven sessions were held as advertised.

    • Ms. Weber posted table-top signs to promote the service while on location.

    • Students occupying the area where the service was held were asked if they needed assistance with research.

    • Actual attendance of the sessions was low with two students asking for assistance and one student requesting assistance via email after having seen the Ask a Mobile Librarian poster on campus .


    • Although attendance of the sessions was low, some positive outcomes resulted from the service:

      • Some students in the focus groups were better informed about library services after participating.

      • A student contacted librarian Rebecca Weber and asked for assistance with her research after seeing the Ask a Librarian poster.

    Outcomes continued
    Outcomes Continued

    • A professor arranged a library instruction session for her students after seeing the Ask a Mobile Librarian service.

    • Other students may have used the library as a result of the posters or seeing a librarian on campus.

      Photo: students studying at Evans Library

    Thoughts for the future
    Thoughts for the Future

    • After completing the fall 2009 sessions, the following conclusions were reached:

      • The service should be held in one location, at a consistent time.

      • Many students are unaware that librarians can offer one-on-one research consultations.

      • Overall awareness of the library/library services is increased through advertising.

      • Having a librarian hold office hours (once or twice a week) in conjunction with the Academic Support Center may be a good alternative as a continuation of this service.