Research Help (aka Reference) Training


Welcome to Fall semester 2015! Today is the first day of classes here at Brandeis, and we are all very busy. We are in the process of bumping up our reference staff!

Right now we’re short-staffed, with 7 liaisons and 1 library assistant staffing the “research help” desk from 11-5 and chat from 9-5 Monday – Friday, so we have asked our technical services/access services staff with MLS degrees or lots of reference experience if anyone would be willing to help out. Many of the librarians with MLS degrees in those departments actually have done reference in the past, and really only need a refresher, but so that we have consistent training I volunteered to put together a document that could be used for the future as well as for this specific instance.

We have a fairly…interesting…statistics system, and we have been using Tiers 1-4 to describe all kinds of reference/help questions, but none of us have been consistent as we have all had different experiences with different scales at different former institutions and there has never been a formal training on what each consist of other than the 1 word/phrase descriptions in Service Desk itself (Non-resource/directional; skill-based/library services; strategy-based/consultation; subject specialization). The phrases are pretty good until you actually compare what each librarian uses; one librarian was using tier 3 (consultation) for in-depth appointments even if they went over 40 minutes due to the fact that they weren’t subject specific.

What I would like to implement is the READ scale ( which is based on the ARL requirements and is very, very specific in what falls into which section. It is a better system than what we are currently using, and I would feel more comfortable teaching it, but that may not be a battle I have the time for this fall. Hopefully we can figure out a good way to describe our current tier system so that it works better for everyone!

On a brighter note, I am very, very excited for The Martian movie to come out in about a month. VERY EXCITED.