Lynn Berard (Carnegie Mellon University) and Dr. Bella Karr Gerlich (Dominican University) presented on The READ Scale: Using Qualitative Data to Record Levels of Effort and Expertise in Answering Reference Questions. They put this device together because of a sense that current data collection methods couldn’t be showing the true picture, since despite decling questions, librarians felt that they were busier than ever. 170 librarians participated in recording on a six point scale the effort, knowledge, skills and teaching used during a reference transaction. Participants felt very comfortable with this method, and the great majority would recommend the scale for use in future reference surveys, though some modifications might be needed. One problem was that the self rating is subjective, so rating could be difficult, especially for the many modest librarians who are very tough on themselves and tend to underrate.
There were practical applications for this method. Librarians could use results to make sure to have enough staff when they’re busiest (and at times when you get your easiest/hardest questions, you could modify your staffing to have more/less paraprofessionals). It could also be use to train new staff and to develop best practices and/or pathfinders for answering common, but complicated questions. It can also be used for recording the effort involved in outreach!
They have adapted the READ scale for use in public libraries. If you are interested in using this free method at your library, contact Bella Karr Gerlich PhD University Librarian at Dominican University at firstname.lastname@example.org
By the way, eventually all these REFolution presentations will be up at the website.