Analyzing Success in Meeting Reference Department Management Objectives Using a Computerized Statistical Package
The purpose of this study was to develop a methodology for a reference department to evaluate its success in using staff efficiently to serve appropriate patrons. A method of data collection and analysis was desired that would meet the following criteria: 1) require no equipment other than that already available in the library or accessible to librarians on campus, 2) require little or no clerical support staff time to use, and 3) be simple to use so that reference staff could collect the data while on duty at the desk. Obviously many important goals of a reference department (particularly those relating to accuracy of information provided, patron satisfaction, and ultimate value of the service to individuals) cannot be measured by simple, inexpensive means. However certain management objectives relating to staff utilization and effectiveness are amenable to such measurement. At present, it is still a rare library that has an accurate statistical description of its reference department's quantitative input, throughput, or output, let alone its qualitative output. Therefore, such steps as can be made in the direction of more thorough evaluation of the reference process are rightly viewed as progress. In the present study the following objectives from one library's service plan were considered to be amenable to relatively inexpensive measurement under the criteria outlined above:
1. To provide brief assistance to a relatively large number of patrons rather than to provide in-depth assistance to relatively few patrons.