Friday, October 7, 2011

roving reference at Appaloosa and Mustang Libraries

Roving reference is about taking the service to the client, without expecting them to find a staff member to help them.  You go and find who needs assistance.  I have written about this before, but it is such an exciting area, more can always be said, and new possibilities and examples keep coming forward.  There are still a lot of libraries who are not using roving reference, or any similar idea, to help people in their libraries who would like a bit of assistance and who may not come and ask for help.

A new term I discovered recently was "shoulder to shoulder" reference service, because the client is next to the staff member. This is the term being used in Appaloosa Library, Arizona.  You are taking the client with you and the service points are designed for this.

There were several of these pods through the library to aid in the proactive delivery of roving reference. While seats are shown, I mostly saw staff standing with the client, after having been walking around looking for people who they could assist. This is a proactive model and it was very exciting to see it in operation.

Information pod -
This shows another view of the information pod.  Staff really were walking around and looking for people to help.  They were covering the entire library space.  It was not intrusive, and it looked like it was effective.

It was part of the service helping people find what they were looking for, before they were frustrated, or left.  The staff used positive body language as well as non-invasive questioning.
View of information pod - Appaloosa Library
This service point below shows a slightly different style of desk in Mustang Library, Arizona.  The staff space was at the Info end, and public opac at the Search space.  This also was very effective for roving reference.
Information desk - Mustang Library, Arizona

It really is about asking "are you finding what you are looking for?" or a similarly open type of question, and not expecting the client to come to you - you need to seek them out.

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