First Piece of Evidence: Fresh Eyes Exercise – Site Visit, LIBR 232

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Running head: FRESH EYES
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FRESH EYES EXERCISE, Site Visit #2
David Owens
San Jose State University
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Introduction
For the library Fresh Eyes Exercise, I chose to observe the Drake Public Library
in Centerville, Iowa. The Drake Public Library (DPL) is located just across the
Missouri/Iowa border, about an hour north of Kirksville, MO where I am employed by AT
Still Memorial Library. Centerville originally had what was known as the Reading Room
founded by the Ladies of the Reading Room Library Association Group in 1896. The
DPL was founded in 1903 and currently serves all residents of the Centerville
Community (pop. 5464) and even offers out-of-state patrons a library card for a nominal
fee.
I visited the DPL as a “mystery patron” similar to “mystery shoppers” that visit
businesses and restaurants to rate the customer service and quality of the product
received. My goal was to compare and contrast the Public Services/Circulation
department of the library to the Public Services department in my library (AT Still
Memorial Library, ATSML). I visited the stacks, the children’s library, used the computer
service, and asked about reference help and special activities the library offered, and
lastly, about searching for and borrowing books.
Circulation
Upon entering the DPL, which has been newly renovated with updated
Reference, Circulation, and office areas, one is greeted by a friendly library director, the
only full-time staff on the premises. I first entered and viewed the stack and book
collection for general reading. I was told “just to ask” if I needed any assistance. I
browsed for a short while and asked about locating a particular book, one of the Harry
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Potter novels. The circulation desk staff walked me through a catalog search and we
located the call number and tracked down the book with ease.
The DPL also offers access of e-books via WILBOR, an e-book lending program.
One is able to check out e-books via mobile devices and home computers. The small
staff and consolidated services helped provide smooth and efficient customer service.
According to Donlan & Schmidt (2012), providing library service today demands close
and frequent communication among departments that may have had little interaction in
the past. Having one staff member, if demands are not too great, creates, in essence, a
truly cross-departmental team consisting of catalogers, acquisitions specialists, eresource librarians, and reference librarians, all in one package. This is truly a library
with no silos.
Interlibrary Loan
The interlibrary loan service and Reference service are merged at the DPL. One
may ask for research help or inquire about borrowing a book from another library, all at
the same convenient location. In my library, ATSML, the Reference and Interlibrary loan
departments are staffed and located separately. Often times this initiates a reference
librarian taking a request and processing it. If an article is required to be borrowed from
another library, a request is sent to the interlibrary loan staff. This could possibly mean a
delay in communication due to technical errors, human error, and loss of
communication. If the interlibrary loan (ILL) staff is absent that day, a request will be
delayed. According to a survey by Moore and Mannino (2012), many libraries are
merging ILL with reference, and a majority of the participants believe that the merger is
a sound idea because:
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1. The skill set needed by ILL librarians is similar to that of librarians in reference.
Conducting reference interviews, providing support to remote users and distance
learning students, administering on-demand user education or information
literacy instruction, performing complex searches, etc., are skills required of both
reference and ILL librarians; and
2. Joining ILL with reference, libraries can streamline their workflow and
maximize the skills of the human resources currently available to them. The
results of this survey indicate that some libraries have found a way to work
around budget cuts without sacrificing too much on the service front. They are
merging ILL with reference. We hope this article will encourage more libraries to
look at merging similar departments as a sensible way to maintain the highest
level of service for all library users.
Basically, some libraries have found a way to work around budget cuts
while not giving up a great amount of customer service. The ILL and reference
departments are merging. Moore and Mannino (2012) urge more libraries to view
the merging of similar departments as a sensible way to give the highest level of
service to all patrons.
Another way the DPL Interlibrary loan department showed excellent
practices was the fact that it used benchmarking. Its policies are regularly
updated and re-evaluated to meet the needs of the community most effectively.
Stein (2007) states Best practices come from the benchmarking process.
Benchmarking is comparing and measuring your policies and practices against
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those of high-performing organizations. The DPL regularly communicates with
the American Library Association to keep up with current trends.
Children’s Library
The children’s library is supervised by volunteer staff. The library offers summer
programs and services especially for children. After school programs are available on
Monday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. No charge or pre-registration is required.
The library also offers story time every Wednesday at 1:15 in the children's room. The
computer use and children’s services are excellent examples of how the community
benefits from library use. Wilson (2012) reports that 32 percent of the U.S. population
aged 14 or over have used a public library computer or wireless network to access the
Internet in the past year. As a result of public library technology access, thirty two and a
half million people (42 percent of public access technology users) pursued educational
activities, with youth being major users of library computers for this purpose. Among
educational users, 37 percent did homework, 24 percent took online classes, and 37
percent looked for information about college or vocational programs (Wilson, 2013).
Reference Department
The DPL offers a one-stop reference place with staff striving to locate accurate
answers to all reference requests using library resources. Reference assistance is
available in person or via telephone. Remote database access is also provided to
library patrons with login credentials. The director reported a slight increase in reference
activity as well as interlibrary loan rates. This corresponds with Oxborrow’s (2012)
statement: In fact, ILL requests have increased, probably due to the fact that students
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and staff of libraries now have access to a larger number of citations through online
databases and other information sources.
The DPL offers the use of EBSCOhost for journal articles, LearningExpress for
GED help and preparation. LearningExpress includes over 770 practice tests, tutorials,
and eBooks related to workplace skills improvement and career certification. WorldCat
catalog is available for search and HealthInfoIowa provides health information. Lastly,
the DPL provides subject guides to help patrons begin finding information on travel,
sports, consumer goods, and more.
Conclusion
Despite being a small staffed library, the DPL offers a first-class service “with a
smile”. The Centerville area community has access to books, audio books, magazines,
reference materials, videos, and DVDs. Photocopying and faxing services are available.
Furthermore, the DPL offers exam proctoring for students attending remote institutions and a
meeting room.
A commonly used resource by adult and senior patrons is the Genealogy section which
includes books, microfilm, and clip books. The library's microfilm collection includes Daily
Iowegian (Centerville’s local newspaper) newspapers dating back into the 1800's. The local
census records are also on microfilm. Located in the DPL, the Iowa Room has many records on
file, courtesy of the Genealogical Society. Death records, funeral home records, obituary
clippings, and individual family history books are all available for use. DPL staff even takes
genealogy requests!
In comparison to my current library, the DPL has several practices worth mimicking. The
circulation staff was more knowledgeable and friendly than the circulation staff where I work.
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The integration of reference and ILL by the DPL also helps facilitate communication and speed
up document delivery time, compared to my library. While my circulation department offers
many more computers and databases, the DPL provides an adequate amount of resources given
its patron size base. The DPL is an excellent library and a valuable resource to the community.
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References
Donlan, R., & Schmidt, L. (2012). From the editors: E-resources in interlibrary loan--breaking
departmental barriers. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserves,
22(3/4), 119-121.
Oxborrow, K. (2012). Interlibrary loan rates for academic libraries in the united states of america have
increased despite the availability of electronic databases, but fulfillment rates have decreased.
Evidence Based Library & Information Practice, 7(4), 114-116.
Stein, J. (2007). IFLA Guidelines for Best Practice for Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery. Journal of
Access Services, 5(3), 295-303.
Ta-Moore, H., & Mannino, K. (2012). A case for integration of interlibrary loan and reference. Journal of
Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserves, 22(5), 197-203.
Wilson, D. (2013). Reenvisioning access services: A survey of access services departments in arl libraries.
Journal of Access Services, 10(3), 153-171.
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