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Clarification on Reference Transactions

Page history last edited by Kim Miller 6 years, 2 months ago



April 9, 2014




Katrice Stewart (FL)


So, I have a fellow data lover in one of our county systems who is great about playing devil’s advocate when thinking data elements through and she has brought a questions for clarification to my attention. 


In reading the work of the definitions committee to iron out the wrinkles of “reference transactions”, when the phrase “A reference transaction includes information and referral service as well as unscheduled individual instruction and assistance in using information sources (including web sites and computer-assisted instruction).Count Readers Advisory questions as reference transactions.”, does the term unscheduled strictly mean an impromptu session without any scheduling at all or can a reference transaction also include an appointment made with the reference librarian for help with something, say e-books? 


Please forgive me if I’ve not copied the latest verbiage for the definition as there are several “final” documents on the wiki.  I pulled this one from the “final grammatical revisions – Reference Transaction s – Final – rev2.docx” file.


Thanks so much!


SDC Comments


Michael Golrick (LA)


My intention in agreeing to this language is that this was meant to specifically exclude classes, but to make it clear that when I help someone with a web site (or sites), like filling out the ACA forms or registering for SNAP (food stamps), that counts as a reference transaction. Speaking only for myself, I did not think about “scheduled reference transactions.” That is solely a reflection of my personal experience at reference desks in generally fairly busy public libraries where we do not make appointments for help.


Scott Dermont (IA)


Some reference desks are definitely busier than others.


The way I would look at this is:


If a patron called and said: “Will you be able to meet me at 1pm today? I need some help with my new e-book.” I would call this meeting a reference transaction.

If the library said: “Please sign up for one-on-one e-book sessions scheduled for 1pm today.” I would call this meeting a class, and not a reference transaction.


Maybe this is picking nits or splitting hairs. But it seems like if it is a patron generated request for one-on-one help, then it should be reference. If it is a library scheduled event, even if only for one person at a time, then I wouldn’t call it reference.


Susan Mark (WY)


patron-initiated vs. library scheduled is a good distinction.


Katrice Stewart (FL)


Thanks Scott!  Great suggestion. 


Katrice Stewart (FL)


I like it!  Seems to make perfect sense to me.  (in response to Susan)


Ann Reed (OR)




Kathy Sheppard (SC)


We are discussing this same issue here in South Carolina from the program count angle rather than as a reference issue.   One of my libraries called with that exact example of e-book assistance, where people sign up for a particular time to receive one-to-one assistance within a scheduled period.   It seems this happens quite a lot.


The definition of a program specifically excludes one-to-one assistance.   So, if one-to-one assistance cannot be considered a program, doesn’t it follow that these people are actually signing up for one-to-one reference assistance?   Even if the library invites them to sign up, as for a program, the format is undeniably one-to-one and contrary to the definition.


Like the rest of you, I am leaning toward counting this kind of activity in terms of the overall aim of the activity, i.e. to convey information to a group of people, and forget about the manner in which the program is conducted (i.e. not take the one-to-oneness into account).   Count as one program, conveying a certain type of information, to an audience (who just happen to arrive at different times.)  The signups are counted individually as program attendees.   But the definition continues to be a problem.  


We’re having real difficulty here with many examples of training, programs, and like activities this year.  I will likely need to bring up a few for discussion at our meeting.

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