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Article
Publication date: 1 December 1996

Rita Marcella and Iain Middleton

Draws on a recently completed British Library Research and Development‐funded project investigating key factors in helpdesk success. Describes the methodology of survey…

Abstract

Draws on a recently completed British Library Research and Development‐funded project investigating key factors in helpdesk success. Describes the methodology of survey by questionnaire and case studies. Summarizes the results briefly and focusses specifically on the results which feed into a discussion of the potential of the help desk in enabling an organization or its customers to gather data on systems use, plan and implement IT development strategies and assess their impact on attitudes to IT.

Details

OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives, vol. 12 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1065-075X

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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2010

Daryl May

The purpose of this paper is to provide an exploratory look at facilities and estates management help desks in four different case study organisations.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an exploratory look at facilities and estates management help desks in four different case study organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study methodology was adopted, with semi‐structured interviews and observations as the principal methods to collect data.

Findings

The findings suggest that the key factors for the success of a facilities management (FM) help desk include mapping out all customer requirements, recruiting the correct operating staff, ensuring an appropriate working environment and client communication once the help desk is operational.

Originality/value

At the time of the study there had been relatively little research completed focusing specifically on FM help desks. The paper will be of value to facilities and property managers who are considering implementing a help desk service.

Details

Journal of Facilities Management, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1472-5967

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 1997

Iain A. Middleton and Rita Marcella

The help desk and user support industry has, over the last ten years, risen to prominence as one of the most important areas of the IT and customer services industry…

Abstract

The help desk and user support industry has, over the last ten years, risen to prominence as one of the most important areas of the IT and customer services industry. However, it has also become clear that not all help desks have the same requirements, and help desks operating in academic environments find themselves with distinct circumstances and problems. Drawing on research published by the author, and a comprehensive review of recent literature and input from practitioners, addresses these issues which distinguish the help desk in academia. Also finds that it often suffers from difficulty in defining its role and obtaining resources, examines how some institutions have successfully tackled these problems and offers some suggestions for strategies, future developments and sources of expert advice.

Details

Campus-Wide Information Systems, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1065-0741

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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2011

Amy Gratz and Julie Gilbert

The purpose of this paper is to investigate student use of the reference desk at a residential college, so that academic libraries can better understand the role of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate student use of the reference desk at a residential college, so that academic libraries can better understand the role of in‐person assistance to meet the information needs of students.

Design/methodology/approach

Survey respondents answered open‐ended questions related to ways they ask for help in the library; data were coded and analyzed for salient trends. Photo diary entries and interviews with smaller groups of students were also used to illuminate findings.

Findings

Students express a need for the kind of help provided by the reference desk in terms of how students use and describe the desk. Usage patterns can also be predicted in terms of class year, gender, and major, indicating a way for the library to provide specific outreach to students who underutilize the reference desk.

Research limitations/implications

The study investigates student use of the reference desk at a single institution. The unique characteristics of the institution might limit the implications that can be drawn from the study's conclusions for institutions that are not residential and do not serve a primarily traditional‐aged college population.

Originality/value

As information and our users move increasingly online, libraries must consider the value of reference desks. Findings at a residential institution demonstrate the value‐added benefit of this service in helping students with their research.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 39 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 3 June 2014

Allison Faix

The purpose of this article is to revisit Kimbel Library’s peer reference program three years later and provide further information on the challenges and benefits of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to revisit Kimbel Library’s peer reference program three years later and provide further information on the challenges and benefits of growing a successful peer reference service model.

Design/methodology/approach

This article examines the ongoing development of a peer reference model in an academic library setting and assesses the impact, value and continuing evolution of this model.

Findings

Communication and collaboration among library public service departments is the key to managing rapid program growth and expansion of services.

Practical implications

This article offers suggestions based on the experiences of one library for others interested in establishing or reexamining a peer reference service model.

Originality/value

Employing undergraduate students at the reference desk is a relatively new practice that warrants further analysis, as it becomes more widespread. This article returns to examine a newly established peer reference program three years after its beginning.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 42 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1996

Richard Poynder

Recent years have seen a growing recognition amongst technology companies that customer support is an important part of their business. The author spoke to a number of…

Abstract

Recent years have seen a growing recognition amongst technology companies that customer support is an important part of their business. The author spoke to a number of operators and customers of help desks of online services, to see how their services are being improved and how the customers are responding. The example of STN International is given as a case study.

Details

Online and CD-Rom Review, vol. 20 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1353-2642

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Article
Publication date: 16 February 2010

Steven D. Zink, Ann Medaille, Madeline Mundt, Patrick T. Colegrove and Duncan Aldrich

The purpose of this paper is to discuss an academic library's need to engage all available resources to provide the services required by the changing uses, formats, and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss an academic library's need to engage all available resources to provide the services required by the changing uses, formats, and production of information.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses the @One service environment as a case study. The service and staffing model employed a sample of 20 students and professionals who work at the @One desk. Attitudes toward the @One space were assessed through one‐on‐one interviews using two different interview protocols. Participants were asked open‐ended questions that allowed them to talk at length in response.

Findings

It is found that the University of Nevada, Reno's Mathewson‐IGT Knowledge Center has implemented a highly interactive service environment in support of production‐intensive information technologies. Professionals from numerous information disciplines participate in staffing the department, but student staff constitute the core of service delivery.

Originality/value

This paper provides information on an interactive staffing model in a US university.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 38 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 16 February 2010

Caroline Cason Barratt, Phoebe Acheson and Emily Luken

This study aims to describe reference service activity within a learning commons at a large research university. The researchers tested several reference models in order…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to describe reference service activity within a learning commons at a large research university. The researchers tested several reference models in order to explore new ways of providing research support to their patrons within the electronic library. The aim was to discover student responses to different models and to investigate patron need of, and desire for, research support at the learning commons.

Design/methodology/approach

The researchers combined measurements of type and frequency of reference traffic both in person and through their online chat reference service. They also gathered quantitative and qualitative information during the reference model experiments and through a survey of patrons in order to discover patron use of, and thoughts concerning, reference service in the electronic library.

Findings

Results from reference model experiments and a survey of patrons show that there is indeed an audience for research assistance in the electronic library and that in‐person research support is the preferred method of service. To keep pace with student needs, the researchers will continue to experiment with reference models that support in‐person research assistance beyond the traditional reference desk.

Practical implications

The researchers provide examples and guidelines for introducing new reference services in a learning commons environment and suggest ideas for further experimentation with reference models in a predominantly electronic environment.

Originality/value

The results of this study will be of interest to academic librarians, especially those who have or are planning a learning commons. This research is also of interest to those studying student research behavior and attitudes towards library collections and services. Because this learning commons is a unique environment as a stand‐alone electronic library, computing, and classroom space, this study makes an original contribution to the literature. As planners of learning commons explore models that move away from the traditional library, this study will inform the possible implications of new designs for reference service.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 38 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 24 October 2020

Karlene T. Clark, Holly M. Gabriel and Kristen Borysewicz

This paper aims to describe both the development of a peer research consultant program – using student assistants to staff the reference desk with minimal supervision…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to describe both the development of a peer research consultant program – using student assistants to staff the reference desk with minimal supervision while providing high-quality research assistance to their undergraduate peers, and the steps taken to create buy-in for the program from campus and librarians.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors provide a description of peer reference services and describe how a remodel of the library building facilitated a redesign of services. The paper covers the process of developing program guidelines, securing funding, expectations of peer research consultants, the training process and lessons learned from a medium-sized academic library.

Findings

The findings after the first year demonstrate that undergraduates are highly skilled at providing high-quality reference services when provided with quality training and support. In addition, undergraduate students are now seeking out peer researchers for assistance with research items such as topic formation, keyword development in databases and proper citations.

Research limitations/implications

No formal research or assessment of the program has been completed as of this time.

Practical implications

Well-trained Peer Research Consultants (PRCs) provide valued assistance to librarians in freshman composition classes, at the Ask Us reference desk, and to their peers. The program has allowed librarians to provide more outreach to their subject areas.

Social implications

Students prefer going to their peers for research assistance rather than a professional librarian when given the choice. The training the PRCs are provided by librarians provides credibility and trust, which encourages undergraduate students to approach PRCs for assistance.

Originality/value

This paper draws on multiple iterations of peer reference models to create an original program, involving training student employees to provide reference services at a paraprofessional level, as well as providing the methodology for other academic libraries to develop and launch a similar program.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 48 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 17 May 2011

Rachel Bickley and Sheila Corrall

Technology has transformed teaching and learning environments in tertiary education, introducing new collaborative library spaces and developing the roles and skills of…

Abstract

Purpose

Technology has transformed teaching and learning environments in tertiary education, introducing new collaborative library spaces and developing the roles and skills of library staff. Academic libraries need continually to re‐examine their services to ensure they meet student needs. The current survey aimed to discover how students perceived staff in the Information Commons (IC) and whether their perceptions of staff attitudes and skills influenced their use of library resources.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire containing closed and open questions was distributed electronically to undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Sheffield, obtaining 250 responses (around 1 per cent of the student population).

Findings

The results showed that most students were unable to distinguish different groups of staff, were unaware of their departmental librarian and did not recognise the academic role of librarians. However, those who had sought assistance in the IC or attended classes delivered by librarians had positive views of their experiences.

Research limitations/implications

The timing and fixed duration of the study limited the size and nature of the sample, the generalisability of the findings and depth of the investigation, but sufficient data were collected to establish patterns of behaviour and identify important factors.

Practical implications

Low awareness among students of the expertise of librarians and their capacity to provide academic support indicates a need for more promotion to ensure library resources are properly utilised.

Originality/value

The study is thought to be the first of its kind conducted in the UK and the only such survey carried out in an IC setting.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 39 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

Keywords

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