University of Pennsylvania Library

2003 DESK SURVEY DATA COLLECTION GUIDE


Download: Reshelve/gate count forms  and In-Stack notices to patrons ("do not reshelve...")

Data Collection Dates:


1. Data Elements

Here is a list of data elements used in the survey. (A-H are collected on tablets provided to each department. I and J are collected on a separate form included with these instructions.)

As regards Chat questions: in this round, we will rely on the statistics generated by the Chat software. Chat counts are not included with the form at this time. See the sample form below (#4) for guidelines to follow in recording these data elements.


2. Definitions

2a. Question Types

A directional question is:

an information contact that facilitates the logistical use of the library and that does not involve knowledge, use, recommendations, interpretation, or instruction in the use of any information sources other than those that describe the library, such as schedules, floor plans and 'about' web pages.

An equipment question is:

a contact for help with the mechanical use of a computer, printer, scanner, photocopier, microform reader, or other device used in the course of finding or manipulating information. How to use a computer to access a database, a journal article or some other information resource would not count as equipment questions. Examples of questions that would count include requests to fix a defective keyboard or mouse, or questions about adding value to ID cards for printing and copying.

This year we are differentiating between two levels of complexity in reference questions, designated on the data collection form by REF and REF+. The basic definition of a reference question is unchanged from previous years.

A reference question is:

an information contact that involves the knowledge, use, recommendation, interpretation, or instruction in the use of one or more information sources by a member of the Library staff. The term includes information and referral service. Information sources include but are not limited to printed and nonprint material; databases, library catalogs, other libraries or institutions through communication or referral, persons both inside and outside the library, and information gained from a previous reference encounter.

In applying this definition we want to distinguish simple look-ups or fact-related questions from more in-depth reference encounters, which involve the transfer of skills and more general knowledge needed to do research. Here are definitions for REF and REF+.

REF: a request for non-directional, fact-based information with a simple focus, answerable with a basic understanding of Penn library collections and organization, and without detailed knowledge or consultation of multiple sources. REF questions usually need not be referred to specialists nor do they require the teaching of sources or research skills. Requests for holdings information, a call number, a simple fact, such as the date of Lincoln's assassination or the atomic number of gold would count as REF.

REF+: a request for information that goes beyond the simple look up, requiring a professional level of knowledge of sources, or software, such as a statistical program, and possibly evaluation and selection of multiple sources, and more time to answer. A by-products or direct outcome of the REF+ encounter is instruction in the use of sources or tools, such as database interfaces, and the transfer of knowledge required to do effective research.

2b. Reference Outcomes

REF outcomes apply only to the two reference categories (REF and REF+). Do not count with directional or equipment questions. Multiple outcomes may be recorded for one question.

An answer is provided: this outcome is applicable to REF and REF+ questions. Count cases where specific factual information is provided in response to a query, such as the verification of holdings. Count as answers cases where a client is pointed to a printed or electronic source that will provide the desired answer to a question.

Made a referral: Count cases where a client is directed to staff who have specific subject expertise or units where expertise is known to reside.

Taught the use of tools: Count cases where a client is instructed how to use a particular source. Examples include the use of a particular database interface, or other software, or given an explanation of how to use an abstract, calculator or scientific reference. In this case the instruction is peculiar to the design and function of the source and not involved with evaluation or the logic of research per se.

Taught research skills: Count cases where transferable or generalizable research concepts are imparted; the logic of Boolean searching is an example. Demonstrating the method used to enter a Boolean search into a database such as Franklin would more properly count under the previous outcome, taught the use of tools, unless the demonstration included a discussion of the concepts involved in Boolean searching. In a case like this it is acceptable to count both outcomes for a single contact.


3. Instructions

Please send completed survey forms (Question and Reshelve/Exit forms) to the Van Pelt-Dietrich Administrative Office, rm 236, in care of Susan Kennedy, at the conclusion of each day. Be sure to note library and department or service desk on each group of forms. Reshelve/Exit forms are provided below.

1. Completing question forms. Complete one form per contact. If the contact involves different types of questions and there's nothing relating them record each type once. Thus if a person asks a REF+ question and then asks for directions to the lavatory, the questions can be counted as separate contacts. However, if the REF+ question involves a location in the stack, do not record a request for directions to that location. If a client returns later with a question, count a new contact. Count questions answered at service desks and in offices. Count as many outcomes as apply to a contact. Outcomes do not apply to Directional and Equipment questions.

2. Counting Items Reshelved. Include the following: o all items reshelved during the week. o books that have been returned by patrons. o across-the-desk use of reserve materials and reshelving of open stack reserve collections. o across-the-desk use of current periodicals and newspapers kept behind the Van Pelt and Lippincott periodicals desks. o use of reference materials that are kept behind a service desk and used by staff to answer questions, or handed to patrons.

Exclude material that is returning from the bindery, new books, new journals, etc.

3. Counting Exits. Record the total for each day of the survey. Provide entrance counts if exits are not available.

4. Questions and Problems. Drop a line to Joe (x3-4643) or Sandra.


4. Guide to Completing the Question Form