10 Pages

Definitions for Planning and Evaluating Reference Services

ByKatherine Emerson

In order to express how good or bad any service is, one must first define what is under evaluation. Evaluation of reference service can be a review of the broad array of services that libraries may provide to the public and a consideration of whether the particular offerings of the library in question are a good match for the information needs of its public. Or evaluation may be an assessment of the correctness of responses to reference questions posed at the reference desk, or to reference questions called in by telephone or distinguished by some other characteristic. Or a group of library users may be asked to express the level of their satisfaction with the services offered by the reference department, or with the particular service of answering reference questions. Sometimes the focus of the evaluation, whether on the selection of services offered or on the quality of those services, is not altogether clear to those doing the evaluation, particularly if it is the public, which typically does not understand the implications of library terminology as specifically as librarians do.