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Keeping Track of Stats

mouse and pencil

In any library, evaluating service is key to succeeding when under the scrutiny of the almighty budget line. One way to show off a library staff’s value is through effective and accurate service point data. But how can we keep track of statistics, without relying merely on tic-marks, and exhibit the depth of the value added services we provide?

One novel solution to evaluating reference transactions in a qualitative method, rather than quantitative, has been developed by Bella Karr Gerlich and Lynn Berard. Their method, called the READ (Reference Effort Assesment Data) Scale, is described as:

six-point scale tool for recording vital supplemental qualitative statistics gathered when reference librarians assist users with their inquiries or research-related activities by placing an emphasis on recording the skills, knowledge, techniques and tools utilized by the librarian during a reference transaction.

With this scale any library can begin to chart any trends in when they are getting their hardest questions or to find out which service point is getting the most directional questions. Though the scale’s measurements are largely subject to the judgment of the individuals reporting the stats, there are many interesting results which can be gleaned from its use.

So then this brings me to how you actually record these stats. Well the original project used traditional paper and pencil to record several service areas. They were then transcribed into an Excel spreadsheet and filtered from there. Though this process may be manageable, I found the reliance on multiple points to report in a timely manner often led to confusion as to the validity of the stats.

Using an online tool called Zoho Creator, I was able to quickly and easily create a reporting page. Through this interface, the many individuals reporting could enter data into one database and never have to worry about where the stat sheet was or if there weren’t at their desk when they reported a stat. Though the shared interface would need to be password protected on your site, as you wouldn’t want errant visitors to have a go at entering bogus stats, this is an easy solution to keeping track of your statistics.

To take a look at my test page which is still in the process of review and approval, please visit this page.

  1. Marie-Therese Mitri
    01/15/2010 at 4:16 am

    Hi John. I am a reference librarian and I was referred by READ Scale to check your sample page. I was hoping to take a look at your Zoho reference statistics test page that you have created. The link does not take me to that test page but rather to the Carnegie Mellon Library homepage. I would appreciate if you send me the appropriate link. Thank you very much.

    • 04/13/2016 at 4:03 am

      Hello Marie-Therese, I am a reference librarian as well with the same problem as you had. Did John ever respond to you with a working link?

  2. 04/13/2016 at 3:24 am

    Hi John, I am aImost a decade late. I am a reference librarian and I was referred by READ Scale to check your sample page. Just like Marie-Therese, when I tried to open the link of your sample statistics I was redirected to the Carnegie Mellon Library homepage. I would appreciate it if you could send me the appropriate link. Thank you very much in advance!

  1. 01/15/2008 at 2:11 pm

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