Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ask the Masses: Reference Statistics

Dan C. and I were talking today about our current reference stats form (we use Google Forms here at Grand View), and he had a great question about what others were doing and how they're using that information.

Dan asks:

At what level do you keep track of reference/interaction statistics? We keep track of it by medium (how the questions were received: phone, Blackboard, etc.), day/time of day, type of question, course number (if known), but do others keep track of things in more detail? We agree that collecting too much data can be overwhelming, but having some extra data can help shed light on different areas not previously considered. How precise are your fields of entry and what data do you collect? Are there things specific to instruction that you collect? And has this more precise data proven to be more beneficial to you as you examine and plan your instruction (and how so)?

Share your answers/observations/experiences in the comments section below!


  1. As mentioned above, we collect information on:
    Month, day, time, question type (reference, citation, directional--where in the library, directional on campus--where to go/who to talk to, technology, and other), question mode (in person, phone, email, Blackboard/embedded librarian contact, or elsewhere on campus), course number (if known), and a field for notes (if there's a particular assignment or skill this helps us track gaps or specific classes needing assistance).

  2. Since Cara borrowed from UD's form, ours is very similar. We collect: month, staff member, question type (computer, level 2 research, level 3 research, consultation, etc.), mode, patron type (course or department), location, time, & notes. Not all fields are required.

    I coordinate reference, so I use reference stats to help determine reference hours in the future, to do collection development using notes about assignments/students' topics, and for determining our response to trends. I review them periodically & pass along things I see to liaisons, such as needs for instruction so they can contact faculty. This seems to work well. I wish I had more time to do this regularly, but sometimes it has to wait until the end of the semester.