Running head: FRESH EYES 1 FRESH EYES EXERCISE, Site Visit #2 David Owens San Jose State University FRESH EYES 2 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 FRESH EYES 3 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: FRESH EYES 4 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 FRESH EYES 5 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 FRESH EYES 6 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. FRESH EYES 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. 7 FRESH EYES 8 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.