14 Pages

In Pursuit of the Possible

Evaluating Reference Services
BySydney Pierce

Mounting concern with good management practice in libraries has brought both increased concern with the evaluation of reference services and what seems to be increasing recognition of the difficulties involved in working out valid evaluative techniques. Since Samuel Rothstein's survey of the literature in the early sixties (1964) in which he found few quantitative studies and fewer still attempts at real evaluation, the literature has grown rapidly (see Weech, 1974; Bunge, 1977; Lancaster, 1977; Klassen, 1983). Critical treatments of evaluative processes have grown with the literature. Both proponents and critics of reference evaluations criticize the model of reference services used as all too often restricted to an emphasis on the reference librarian as a processor of usergenerated questions, taking an overly narrow view of both reference and library work (e.g., Monroe, 1974; Beasley, 1974; Pings, 1976; Vavrek, 1978).