The Library does not have a traditional central reference desk (although Special Collections does have one). Instead, Subject and Teaching Librarians offer research support through an appointment system advertised on the library’s website. We market these appointments to Writing Centers, offer a description of the service to faculty to include on their syllabi, and point to this service during our classes and orientations. After launching this model in Fall 2017, we have seen our reference interactions increase by an average of 83 percent. In January 2019, to meet this growing demand and to offer more options for students, we increased the availability of reference appointments by 56 percent (from 18 hours to 28 hours/week). Once we are fully staffed we will offer 44 additional hours of appointments each week, an increase of 144 percent from our original on-call reference hours. In addition to Subject Librarians offering appointments through this online system, we also include peer reference students, Special Collections Librarians, Digital Scholarship Librarians, and Digital Humanities colleagues, so that students can get a full menu of options in one location.
In addition to the increased number of appointments, we have also seen an increase in quality of these appointments. Knowing about research appointments in advance has allowed both librarians and students to arrive better prepared. This allows the appointment to be a better use of both librarians’ and students’ time.
Kirsten Hansen and Charlotte Brun contributed to this report.