May 23, 2022

Case Study: Eliminating Traditional Reference Services in an Academic Health Sciences Library

Title: Eliminating traditional reference services in an academic health sciences library: a case study

Author: Stephanie J Schulte, MLIS (The Ohio State University)

Source: Journal of the Medical Library Association,  2011 October; 99(4)


How were traditional librarian reference desk services successfully eliminated at one health sciences library?

The analysis was done at an academic health sciences library at a major research university.

A gap analysis was performed, evaluating changes in the first eleven months through analysis of reference transaction and instructional session data.

Main Results:
Substantial increases were seen in the overall number of specialized reference transactions and those conducted by librarians lasting more than thirty minutes. The number of reference transactions overall increased after implementing the new model. Several new small-scale instructional initiatives began, though perhaps not directly related to the new model.

Traditional reference desk services were eliminated at one academic health sciences library without negative impact on reference and instructional statistics. Eliminating ties to the confines of the physical library due to staffing reference desk hours removed one significant barrier to a more proactive liaison program.

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