Lawrence university and the seeley g mudd library
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Lawrence University and the Seeley G. Mudd Library. Private undergraduate college of the liberal arts and sciences with a conservatory of music 1450 students, 98% live on campus 170 FTE faculty, 97% with PhD or terminal degree Calendar of three 10-week terms, no summer session

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Lawrence University and the Seeley G. Mudd Library

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Lawrence University and the Seeley G. Mudd Library

  • Private undergraduate college of the liberal arts and sciences with a conservatory of music

  • 1450 students, 98% live on campus

  • 170 FTE faculty, 97% with PhD or terminal degree

  • Calendar of three 10-week terms, no summer session

  • Library staff: 15.5 FTE (8 MLS, 9 other); approximately 50 student employees

  • Collections:

    • 400,000 book volumes

    • 1,800 periodical subscriptions

    • 20,000 audio-visual items

    • 14,000 musical scores


In the Beginning was the Stroke

  • And the stroke was good . . .

    • Quick!

    • Cheap!

  • But limited

    • Inconsistent

    • Didn’t reflect effort

    • Lots of time required to tabulate

    • Didn’t tell us anything about the questions


It’s not what you know . . .

  • November 2006: we were contacted by Bella Gerlich, friend and former colleague of our Music Librarian, Antoinette Powell, about being a part of the READ study

  • This was a timely coincidence

    • Lawrence’s upcoming NCA visit

    • Reference zeitgeist


First step: calibrating the scale

  • Customized the questions

  • Each librarian answered the questions, recording sources and process used and amount of time spent, then assigned a rating from the READ scale

  • Librarians met and discussed our answers, our process, and our ratings

  • Also proved to be a very useful process in terms of staff development


The study: Feb. 2 - 24, 2007

  • Used a paper form (just like our old form, only bigger)

  • Placed a paper copy of the scale at the reference desk on the same clipboard we used for the tally sheets

  • Counted number of digits as though they were strokes to fit into our previous recording scheme


Immediately after the study

  • We found that the READ scale was easy enough to adopt that we just continued to use it for the rest of the term, then the rest of the year

  • Use of the scale helped us value, as well as evaluate, our work at the reference desk. We found we were answering many more complex questions than we assumed.


Follow-up: our adaptations

  • Fall 2007: started using an Excel spreadsheet saved on shared file space. File names were included on our reference Moodle space

  • Included room to record the content of the questions

  • Spring 2008: included formulas in the spreadsheet to total as we go


Ongoing challenges

  • “Ratings drift:” we still seem to underrate our questions

    • One response: include a copy of the scale as a tab in the spreadsheet

  • Slight decline in total number of questions

    • Slightly fewer questions recorded with the READ scale, probably because we were double-counting for complicated questions in the tickmark method

    • May also be due to increase in the number of reference appointments

  • Acceptance


Future use of the READ scale

  • Will look to see if the level of questions fluctuates from term to term or over the course of a year

  • May use to determine staffing

  • Helps provide evidence of reference as teaching

  • Advocacy with faculty and administration


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