In early 2016, Dana Medical Library underwent a major shift by closing its traditional reference desk. Rather than having two places in which patrons could ask questions, the library created a common service desk for the majority of patron needs, and instituted a librarian on-call service for in-depth questions. Main Desk staff received additional training to answer basic research-based questions, along with the basic library service questions, and would refer patrons to librarians when needed.
Overall, this transition has had positive effects on the nature of librarians’ work, while not negatively impacting the patron experience or increasing Main Desk staff workload prohibitively. Here are some observations from this recent change:
- Overall questions answered at the Main Desk have increased
- Number of complex reference questions answered by librarians has increased, while the number of basic questions answered by librarians has decreased
- Librarians are now answering proportionally more reference questions, and fewer tech support or policy questions
- 80% increase in librarian liaison interactions
- 18% increase in reference questions librarians received directly from a liaison group patron
- Research consultations rose 34.2%