Alchemical Thoughts

Thinking about some local research

Posted on: November 27, 2007

Walt Crawford wrote something that made me think in issue 7.11 (PDF) of Cites and Insights. Here is what he wrote in referring to the librarianship literature. We need:

". . .more detailed success stories, not along the lines of 'We did this, and so should you' but 'Here's what we did, how we did it, why it worked for us'–so librarians can learn and see what does (and doesn't) apply in their community, with their patrons and resources."

I don't see myself writing an article any time soon. Lack of time is certainly a reason. I am not lacking ideas. Anyhow, part of the reason I am thinking about this is that we need to do some local research. As I have mentioned before, we are in the process of preparing for affirmation of accreditation. Anyhow, in that context, I had two questions that I have been pondering for a bit now:

  • Are our collections serving our students? I am going to go on a limb here and take the chance of saying it, but our book funding is pretty much abysmal. It's based on using whatever money may be left over at the end of the year after all the other things and bills are paid. Needless to say, if a few databases raise prices, there may not be money (in theory at least). It irks me, but it is the reality. Anyhow, the reason the question comes up is because I am experiencing a sense of lack at the reference when students come asking for books and materials that would seem pretty basic, and we don't have them. Not only that, but the hope of actually ordering them is next to none. In my view, that is a problem. Which leads me to the next question.
  • How to take the experiences from the reference desk and translate them to evidence? I have to say in my director's defense, that the funding situation is not her fault. She certainly thinks we should have a decent book budget. The administration just has not seen fit to provide for one. Maybe if we get enough evidence of student needs not being met we could make a stronger argument.

A couple of other things I am thinking about, while I am blogging:

  • For the new library blog, have a regular feature for reference books. Kind of like "what is it? what it does?"
  • Another option is to make a reference blog prototype. We really need something where we can keep track of various pieces of reference information (policies, answers to recurring questions, and so on) that we can archive with ease and search. A blog with some good tagging can probably do the trick.
  • I was thinking about using the Gypsy Librarian on Vox blog to experiment with the idea of a reference blog where I could blog some sample reference questions. The idea would be to get a feel for the process. It would also allow me to take that blog in a different direction. I originally created it as a student resource, and in the brief time I was using it for that, I learned a few things (that's a separate post sometime).
  • At some point, someone mentioned an idea of having a faculty fair. It would be an event for faculty, a cross between a reception and an expo. We would be the representatives showcasing the library's services. Clearly, I need to think about this a bit more, but I can certainly see some potential.

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