Collection Development Policy Part 2

  1. Statement of collection policy
    1. Scope of the Collection: The contemporary poetry collection consists of roughly 80 volumes in the 811 Dewey range, although there are a few other volumes scattered throughout the 800s. The 811 range is commonly designated for contemporary American poetry, and currently that is what the collection consists of. Those volumes of poetry found elsewhere in the 800s consist of works by non-American poets.  Most of the volumes are slim individual works, and often only one title by each poet is included.  A few large anthologies are included from very important poets, as well as a few anthologies covering specific years, important decades, or certain subjects.  Although the adult collection includes two audiobooks of poetry, and provides access to an extensive collection of poetry through the libfinder database, different formats are considered different collections at Redwood Public Library.  Therefore, this collection contains print titles only.
    2. Strengths of the Collection: Research has shown that poetry readers use the library to sample poets before purchase for their own collections. That being the case, they find small collections with limited choice a deterrent to use. (Conrad, 2015) Likewise, large anthologies are not often sought out unless researching a specific poet.  For readers like these, small volumes of individual works by a wide variety of poets is a developing strength of this collection.  The current collection is diverse, including works by well-known award winners with long careers, as well first publications by rising stars.  Poets included offer perspectives from a variety of backgrounds.  The collection has high turnover, having titles removed as soon as circulation drops off, to be replaced by the latest publications.  Appendix C shows that only nine of 76 titles has not circulated in the last two years.  This ensures the collection is new and fresh.
    3. Desired Strength of the Collection: The collection should continue to grow in number and diversity of poets. This growth should result in increased circulation. Local published poets have been supportive of library programs, and special effort should be made to include their titles in the collection, perhaps creating a subsection of local poets, an area in which the collection is currently lacking.  As Redwood Public Library moves toward eliminating the Dewey Decimal System in favor of a bookstore-model classification system, all currently-owned works of poetry will be moved to the 811 Dewey range in anticipation of the change, regardless of whether or not the poet is American, or even contemporary.  Additionally, all formats of materials should be curated by the same librarian for the range, rather than split according to format.  This will allow for cohesiveness of the collection across various formats. Ideally, additional audiovisual materials would be purchased, as there are currently few of these in the collection.  Ebooks and online formats are not a high priority, as research has found that poetry readers do not seek out online sources for poetry. (Conrad, 2015)
    4. Selection Criteria: Selection shall focus on contemporary poets bearing in mind diversity of poet backgrounds and perspectives. Poets should be recognized professionally based on review sources, websites, and poetry organizations. Anthologies should be avoided unless a specific need is warranted, i.e., academically important poets, anthologies often assigned by university professors, etc. Local poets included in the collection should be active and known within the local writing community
    5. Deselection or Weeding Criteria: Redwood Public Library depends heavily on the statistics in Collection HQ for deselection criteria. At last weeding, librarians were instructed to discard anything that had not circulated in the last four years. As of next weeding, librarians have been instructed to weed anything that has not circulated in the last two years.  Should any titles remain in the collection outside of these parameters, (at the librarian’s discretion) the CREW method should still be followed.
  2. Vendor Selection
    1. Formats: Spoken word is extremely important to the appreciation and enjoyment of poetry, particularly if read by the poet himself. Audiobooks of poetry on CD should be added to the collection along with the print materials. One of the difficulties of engaging patrons with the library’s poetry collection is the variety of other venues available to readers of poetry for accessing recitation of the material. (Conrad, 2015) Audio CDs can fill a gap that entices poetry readers to seek out other venues for engaging with poetry.  However, print materials are the preferred method of reading poetry and constitute the core of the poetry collection.
    2. Vendors: Baker & Taylor is the preferred vendor of Redwood Public Library, for all print materials. Baker & Taylor is the largest book distributer, in existence since 1828, and most likely to have any title desired. (About Baker and Taylor, 2015) This is particularly true in regard to poetry, as poetry can often be difficult to source elsewhere.
      Apart from Baker and Taylor, Naxos has a fairly large (in comparison to other vendors) selection of audiobooks of poetry on CD.  However, these were mostly classic poetry or collections, including almost no contemporary poets.  However, even Baker and Taylor only had one poetry CD audiobook title.  This indicates that Naxos would probably be the best source for audio CDs.
  3. Selection Resources: Redwood Public Library subscribes to several professional journals including review sources such as Kirkus Review and Publisher’s Weekly.  These review sources can identify new, up-and-coming poets, as well as new releases by established writers.  Additionally, professional poetry organizations can inform of recent award winners and identify career poets as their reputations grow.  Websites of local poets and writing community groups can identify writers of local importance.  All of these resources should be used in deciding which titles to include in the collection.
  4. Bibliography.

About Baker & Taylor. (2015). Retrieved October 31, 2015, from History&home=home_aboutus_details.cfm

Conrad, J. (2015). The Problem of Poetry Curation in Libraries, Unpublished manuscript, Department of English, IUPUI, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Appendix C

Author Title Last Use Date Date Added
wetmore, thomas h thomas hall indiana sesquicentennial poets : 07-30-1994 07-30-1994
updike, john americana and other poems : 08-31-2001 08-31-2001
simic, charles the voice at 3 00 a m :  selected late and new poems 08-20-2009 10-01-2007
hughes, langston poems : 02-18-2010 09-30-2008
koertge, ronald the brimstone journals : 05-09-2011 11-01-2002
plath, sylvia ariel : 10-02-2011 08-21-2008
schultz, philip failure :  poems 03-13-2012 06-11-2008
UNKNOWNAUTHOR good poems : 12-13-2012 04-24-2003
auden, w. h collected poems : 12-27-2012 08-31-2001
UNKNOWNAUTHOR the best of the best american poetry, 1988 1997 : 01-07-2013 07-19-1998
UNKNOWNAUTHOR american war poetry :  an anthology 02-23-2013 06-11-2008
UNKNOWNAUTHOR giving their word :  conversations with contemporary poets 04-20-2013 05-07-2003
pound, ezra the cantos of ezra pound : 04-22-2013 09-25-2001
rice, helen steiner mothers are a gift of love : 06-09-2013 07-01-2010
schiff, robyn revolver :  poems 06-24-2013 09-30-2008
olstein, lisa little stranger : 07-16-2013 07-16-2013
frost, robert early poems : 07-18-2013 09-12-2001
schutt, will westerly : 07-20-2013 05-15-2013
hicok, bob elegy owed : 07-20-2013 05-09-2013
seuss youre only old once : 08-08-2013 07-08-1994
longfellow, henry wadsworth longfellow poems and other writings : 08-30-2013 05-22-2001
seay, allison to see the queen : 10-15-2013 05-02-2013
orr, gregory river inside the river :  three lyric sequences 10-16-2013 07-22-2013
zepeda, gwendolyn falling in love with fellow prisoners :  poems 11-18-2013 11-18-2013
seay, allison to see the queen : 11-19-2013 11-19-2013
merwin, w s the pupil :  poems 12-11-2013 09-25-2001
collins, billy nine horses :  poems 12-11-2013 04-12-2003
krapf, norbert bloodroot :  indiana poems 12-26-2013 03-19-2009
kinnell, galway a new selected poems : 12-31-2013 01-25-2002
olds, sharon stags leap : 12-31-2013 05-08-2013
coen, ethan the drunken driver has the right of way :  poems 01-25-2014 08-31-2001
trethewey, natasha d native guard : 01-25-2014 06-11-2008
dove, rita on the bus with rosa parks :  poems 02-01-2014 06-24-1999
jeffers, robinson the selected poetry of robinson jeffers : 04-02-2014 09-12-2001
whitman, walt leaves of grass : 04-07-2014 06-03-2007
bishop, elizabeth edgar allan poe & the juke box :  uncollected poems drafts and fragments 08-06-2014 09-05-2007
kerouac, jack pomes all sizes : 08-13-2014 01-25-2002
ginsberg, allen collected poems, 1947 1997 : 08-13-2014 01-09-2008
frost, robert collected poems of robert frost : 09-02-2014 08-21-2008
herdman, john voice without restraint :  a study of bob dylans lyrics and their background 09-09-2014 07-15-1994
UNKNOWNAUTHOR poems of the american south : 09-17-2014 09-17-2014
janzen, rhoda mennonite in a little black dress :  a memoir of going home 09-27-2014 07-01-2010
bukowski, charles come on in :  new poems 10-02-2014 10-01-2007
collins, billy aimless love :  new and selected poems 10-13-2014 12-16-2013
ginsberg, allen collected poems, 1947 1997 : 11-06-2014 10-01-2007
bukowski, charles open all night :  new poems 12-17-2014 02-12-2001
eliot, t s collected poems, 1909 1962 : 01-27-2015 07-06-1994
szybist, mary incarnadine :  poems 01-27-2015 09-17-2014
collins, billy sailing alone around the room :  new and selected poems 02-07-2015 08-31-2001
UNKNOWNAUTHOR atheists in america : 02-09-2015 08-12-2014
doty, mark dog years :  a memoir 02-12-2015 05-09-2007
merwin, w s the folding cliffs :  a narrative 02-27-2015 11-19-1998

Collection Development Policy Part 1

Create a Collection Development Policy for a segment of a collection at a fictional library.

  1. Section 1: Describe Setting
    1. Redwood Public Library is a single-branch, stand-alone, city library serving a suburban population of roughly 32,000 people, outside a much larger city. The majority of the population is between 20 and 65 years old, with 30% below the age of 20 and 12% of the population over 65.  The population has been increasing in size over the last several years, with the influx of new immigrants, mostly of Hispanic and Asian descent.  As such, 5% of the population are not native speakers of English, and 11% of the population lives below the poverty line.  Median income of the community is about $50,000.00 (Greenwood Public Library, 2015).
    2. The Library’s collection consists of roughly 120,000 print books, 13,000 audio-visual materials, and as part of a consortium, 14,000 ebooks. The total collection is valued at one million dollars (Greenwood Public Library, 2015).
    3. The most significant sources of funding come from general property taxes and the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax. Additional sources, in descending order of significance include contributions from the Friends of the Library, funded through individual and corporate gifts, sponsorships, and grants; vehicle excise taxes; fines and fees; and refunds and reimbursements.  Occasionally bonds are obtained for specific purposes such as facilities maintenance.  Last year the Friends provided 100% of the Library’s programming budget (Greenwood Public Library, 2015).
    4. Redwood Public Library is a political division of the City of Redwood, governed by a Board of Trustees. The seven-member board, consisting of a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and three general members, is appointed by various local elected officials, including the County Commissioners, the County Council, the City Mayor, the City Council, and the Superintendents of the two local school districts (Greenwood Public Library, 2015).
    5. Responsibility for collection development ultimately falls on the Director, who may then delegate that responsibility to department heads to further delegate collection development responsibilities and tasks to librarians and other staff as appropriate. See Appendix A for organizational structure (Greenwood Public Library, 2013).
  2. Description of Subject Area
    1. The specific focus of this subset of the collection development plan will relate to the collection of works by professionally recognized, contemporary poets. In alignment with the Library’s Strategic Plan item number 5.3, to “provide education and literacy opportunities to all,” (Greenwood Public Library, 2012) curation and promotion of the poetry collection provides adults the opportunity to improve their literacy by widening their exposure to various types of literature.  Contemporary poets, in particular, offer relatable themes and varied perspectives on contemporary issues.  Professional recognition of the poet by her peers provides an educational aspect to the collection appropriate to an adult audience.
  3. Library’s Mission Statement
    1. The Redwood Public Library enriches lives and fosters personal growth through the promotion of information resources relevant to the community’s needs and ambitions (Greenwood Public Library 2012).
  4. Intellectual Freedom Policy
    1. Redwood Public Library is dedicated to protecting intellectual freedom. The Library endorses the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights.  Special consideration is given to the belief that “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view,” and that “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views” (American Library Association, 1996).  As a result, the Library asserts that it is the patron’s responsibility to choose or reject the use of library resources in alignment with personal beliefs, and to monitor the use of library resources by their own children. (Greenwood Public Library, 2013)
  5. Procedure for Requesting Reconsideration of Materials
    1. Should a patron have questions or concerns about any of the materials in the Library’s collection, the following options are available. Any staff member can address any informal questions, concerns, or complaints and will pass them along to the appropriate levels of administration.  However, a Department Head or the Director can make time for patrons to express their concerns directly.
    2. Formal complaints can be made through the submission of a Request for Reconsideration form (Appendix B). Upon receipt of the form, the Head of the relevant department will review the selection of the material in question, and respond in writing to the individual who made the request.  If the patron is not satisfied with the outcome of the review, she may address the issue with the Board of Trustees by first submitting her request in writing, and then addressing the Board at the appointed meeting date and time (Greenwood Public Library, 2013).

Appendix B

Request for Reconsideration

Please complete the following information and submit to staff to request a review of materials.




City, State, Zip:_____________________________________________________________

Are you a member of the library?______________________________________________

Title of resource you would like to have reviewed:_______________________________



What concern do you have about the resource? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Have you examined the entire resource?__________________________________________

Where might additional information be available supporting your concern? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Adapted from Hollins University (2013).


American Library Association. (1996) Library Bill of Rights Retrieved from

Greenwood Public Library. (2012). Strategic Plan 2013-2015.

Greenwood Public Library. (2013). Collection Development Policy. Unpublished internal document.

Greenwood Public Library. (2015). Annual Report 2014.

Hollins University. (2013) Materials Challenge Policy Retrieved from



Reference Observation

Professional resources offer librarians guidelines and direction in providing reference services to patrons.  When speaking directly of reference work, the Reference and User Services Association’s guidelines focus on behavioral performance.  However, Cassell and Hiremath, in their text, provide practical steps for the reference librarian to use to work through the reference interaction with the patron.  Yet, there is an argument to be made that traditional reference work, if it continues to exist in libraries at all, has taken a backseat to other forms of information service in the library.

Seeking to understand the relevance of the suggestions these resources provide, this paper will examine their application in the real-world environment by observing reference work at three library locations.  Location A is a small urban branch of a large, county-wide system serving a mostly urban population.  Location B is a somewhat larger suburban branch of the same system.  Location C is comparable to Location B is size and is situated in an adjacent suburb of the adjacent county, where the library system serves a more rural population overall.  The differences between the reference work provided at these three locations were surprising, especially between the two branches that were part of the same system.  The skills and application of guidelines varied significantly between each.

As stated, Location A served an urban population.  The building was small, old, ornate, and sat well above the street.  A very large and steep staircase provided the first obstacle to the approachability recommended by RUSA.  Upon entering the library, other physical barriers impeded interactions between patrons and the staff behind the desk.  While the semi-circular desk faced the door, the staff sat at each end, facing out into the wings of the building.  This arrangement makes a certain amount of sense, in that the staff is easily observed by patrons in the areas of the room that are in use, and could be directly approached.  However, various tables, shelves, racks, and other items were placed directly in front of the desk, directly in front of each staff member.  This forced patrons to walk around the desk to the unused portion and to approach staff from the side.  This physical arrangement left the impression that staff were busy with other things, and not available for help.

Additionally, there was a second desk behind the first, spanning the room horizontally.  It appeared to be taller than the first, elevating the staff-person who sat behind it, and removing him further from interaction with patrons.  Rather than face outward toward the rear portion of the room, he faced the center of the semi-circle, with his back toward patrons.  This staff person was dressed more professionally, as well, giving the impression that the two before him were clerks, and that he was the “real” librarian, unapproachable without first passing through his staff.

During the observation, there was no reference work performed as defined by RUSA as excluding “formal instruction or exchanges that provide assistance with locations, schedules, equipment, supplies, or policy statements.”  Though the library was busy that morning, with patrons in every quarter of the room and nearly every computer and table in use, only seven interactions between staff and patrons occurred over the course of an hour.  Two of these were simple requests for computer passes, receiving nothing but a physical response from staff, handing the pass to patrons.  There was one request of an interlibrary loan for a book the patron had first sought out herself.  Though the woman who processed the request was friendly, she did not acknowledge the patron until the patron addressed her first.  The next patron to approach her seemed to feel the need to qualify his question.  “I’m not ready to check out.  But this isn’t BluRay.”  To which she simply replied, “It is.”

The next interaction came closest to a reference interview, as a patron sought computer help from the young man behind the desk.  When providing tech help, it can often be useful to categorize an answer, as Cassell and Hiremath recommend for reference questions.  “Sorting an answer into ready reference versus time-consuming is of immense help….Simplicity allows the librarian to think ‘within the box’ and allot relatively little time to finding an answer.”(36-37)  As he approached the computer, the staff person tried to categorize and visualize the answer by asking an open question, “Were you trying to…?” letting his question hang.  This allowed the patron state his need, and allowed the staff person to sort the need as simple or complex.  He then tested the waters, by stating, “You’re going to print.” Another interaction with the young woman required directions to the cookbooks, and included a discussion of planned library renovations and an elevator installation.  Finally, the young man helped a patron pay his fines and check out. Despite the fact that no reference work was performed during this observation, a few reference skills were observed in use with the technology question.  However, on the whole, staff at this library were not approachable and did not express interest while interacting with patrons.

Location B was part of the same system as Location A, but one would not be able to tell.  The library was full and patrons were engaged in their activities.  The staff at the reference desk were older than at Location A and behaved more professionally. They had no problem interrupting their other work to engage with patrons.  When one librarian was busy with a patron, she directed waiting patrons to her coworker. Thirteen interactions occurred throughout this hour-long observation.  Even the simple requests for passes and directional questions were given engaged responses including additional information.  Processes and procedures were explained at length, including several open and closed questions intended to gauge how much information the patron needed to know, beyond what the patron had indicated a desire to know.  These librarians were very approachable, and visible.  They expressed interest in patrons’ needs, and utilized the tools at their disposal to find quick and easy answers to questions such as, “What time does the game start?” (“Today, 1:00 pm, CBS.”)  The only lack of professionalism observed was a lengthy conversation between the two librarians about staffing and management issues at the location and within the library system.  However, as far as patron interaction is concerned, these librarians seemed to take professional recommendations to heart.

Location C was similar to B in many ways, in terms of size and patron population served, and the observation occurred immediately after the one at B.  However, this library was nearly empty.  A steady stream of patrons entered and exited the library, doing most of their business at the circulation desk, asking policy questions, returning books, placing holds, and requesting interlibrary loans.

The information desk sat apart from the circulation desk, in the stacks and near the computers, rather than in front of the door.  Again, no reference or reader’s advisory questions were asked.  Despite sitting directly behind the librarian at the information desk, she spoke so low that her remarks could not be heard.  Two patrons asked for computer assistance.  In the first instance, the patron went on at the length about the issues he was having and what he was trying to do.  During this, the librarian did little more than listen and nod.  She did eventually walk with him to the computer, but did not appear to question or explain as she worked through the problem.

The second request came from a teenage with a tablet.  Again, the patron explained the problem with little-to-no prompting from the librarian.  And when finished talking, the librarian took the tablet from the patron, worked out the problem on her own, then handed it back.  As she worked, her head was down over the tablet, and she did not appear to explain what she was doing.

As there was so little interaction with the reference desk during this hour, I approached and asked a reference question myself.  I wanted to know if there was any place in Indianapolis to watch Asian films.  Though the librarian’s voice was still almost inaudible, she did ask clarifying questions, at first asking, “Are you looking to rent?”  I went on to explain that I’d like to find theaters to watch them in, preferably with English subtitles.  She searched the computer, and though she was unable to find any resources for sure, she was able to refer me to theaters that might be likely to offer the content I was seeking.  She seemed interested in my question, and I walked away more than satisfied with the information I was provided.  Although, I did wish she talked me through her search as she did it, or was able to turn her monitor around so that I could see the results she was seeing.

Although the application of professional guidelines and skillsets varied from location to location, the one thing that seemed to be consistently missing from the interactions was actual reference questions.  Brian Kenny argues that patrons have other needs from libraries and that librarians should just let go of reference as a defining role.  “Clinging to an outdated reference mission has left many libraries struggling to meet these new expectations.”  However, many of the guidelines and skills used for answering reference questions can be applied as well to other roles within the library.  Librarians should be approachable, appear interested and engaged, and listen to patrons needs, no matter what those needs are, whether directing someone to the men’s room or assisting with specialized research.

This fact was most demonstrated by the librarians at location B, where every inquiry was treated with equal importance.  These librarians weren’t simply answering questions, applying guidelines, or fulfilling roles.  They interacted with each patron in a manner which suggested they were there to meet the patron’s needs, whatever those needs might be.  That is the sort of service I hope to provide and skillset I hope to employ when interacting with patrons throughout my career.

Though guidelines and practical advice can help new librarians work through reference interactions, patron needs must always come first.  And when approaching patrons with that mindset, meeting those guidelines, applying that skillset is almost a given.  Despite the lack of actual reference requests in everyday situations, those same skills can be applied across various roles.


Works Cited

Cassell, Kay Ann. Hiremath, Uma. Reference and Information Services in the 21st Century. New York:Neal-Schuman P, 2011. Print.

Kenney, Brian. “Where Reference Fits in the Modern Library.” Publisher’s Weekly. 11 Sept. 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

RUSA. “Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers.” ALA 28 May 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015



Reference Interface: Email, Phone, Chat

As technology changes, reference librarians modify their services to meet patron needs and expectations.  This means the traditional reference interview must be adapted to these new technologies.  Some suggest that email, phone, and chat reference services can counteract the problems they believe exist with traditional, desk-based reference service, perhaps even replacing the reference desk entirely (Miles, 2013).  However, research shows that these methods have significant problems as well, although rated as positive within the context of the study (Cassidy, 2014).  This paper considers the professional literature in light of my experience participating in reference interviews across three types of electronic interfaces, email, phone, and chat.

Howard Schwartz found that “The Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) elements of approachability, interest, searching, and follow-up still apply, but they need to be modified to take into account the fact that the patron is not physically present (2014). In my experience, I often found that the RUSA guidelines weren’t even applied, let alone modified for a particular interface.  For this project, I ended up emailing three libraries, chatting with two, and calling one.  The email interface provided the least satisfactory experience, followed, surprisingly, by phone, with the chat interface providing the most useful, though somewhat disappointing experience.

The first library I emailed was the Herman B Wells Library, not realizing this was a university library, as Google seems to call it a public library.  Only after submitting the form was I redirected to a FAQ including the following usage statement:

This service is intended for the students, faculty, staff and alumni of Indiana University, Bloomington. If you do not fall into one of these categories, we are sorry that we can only reply to your inquiry if it concerns Indiana University or some unique resource of the Indiana University Libraries.

I felt that already this interaction had failed the accessibility portion of the RUSA guidelines, as even if I was not part of their service population, this information could have been presented on the form submission page, instead of after I had already submitted the form.  That said, I did receive a reply. “The Library isn’t involved with self-publishing. We have a few titles on the subject, but they’re getting to be a few years old. Here’s a pretty good list of self-publishing platforms:”  While I appreciated that the librarian took the time to send me a resource despite the fact that I was not part of his service population, I wasn’t certain what the library’s involvement with self-publishing had to do with my request.  Leading with this statement made me feel the librarian was tossing me a crumb, instead of going above and beyond to provide excellent service.

Regardless, none of the email interactions included any clarifying questions or any back-and-forth communication.  Asking for information on self-publishing, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library first offered a link to their events page, where several author fair presentations were listed, some of which pertained to writing.  Leading with self-promotion, again, was off-putting, and did not very well address my request.  The second link provided was to search results in their catalog, and the third link was to the Indiana Writer’s Center, which really didn’t address my request at all.  I also emailed the Avon Public Library, but have yet to receive a reply.

The phonecall I made was to the Anderson Public Library.  The reference librarian was professional, introducing herself and stating I had reached Information Services.  I felt the need to clarify that I had reached the Reference Desk, as “information” sounded a little vague for my purposes.  “Information Services” could provide information on the location of the restroom, or hours and location.  Again, I doubted the accessibility of information.

Asking my question about self-publishing, I was offered books in the collection, library-produced information packets, and the suggestion that I attend upcoming programs.  I then asked what information was available online.  She asked me to wait while she checked the library’s website for a subject guide, however she found none.  She then suggested Amazon’s Independent Publishing page, but added that there was a fee involved.  Next, she offered articles on CNet and Wikipedia.  On the whole, I was satisfied with the resources I received.  However, I didn’t feel the interaction lived up to the RUSA guidelines, although the phone-call interaction met those guidelines better than the email interactions did.

My first interaction via chat was with Johnson County Public Library.  The response was immediate, in other words, very accessible.  The resources I received were excellent, the best from any interaction, and ideal for use in my annotated bibliography.  However, rather than copying and pasting the transcript for later use, I used the “email transcript” feature.  The transcript never arrived.  I lost the entire conversation and all the resources.  I will have to contact them again.

My second chat interaction was with the Carmel-Clay public library.  Here, it took ten minutes to get a reply through the chat service.  However, the librarian apologized for the delay and explained.  Though the resources I received were similar to those from other libraries, and not quite as good as those I received from Johnson County, the reference interview was excellent.  The librarian asked a clarifying question, and explained the resources she was providing, suggesting specific books, instead of just a link to search results. She was definitely interested and listening, and I felt she was really working to provide the best information she could.  I’ve included the full transcript below:

11:58 me Hi, I’m looking for information on self-publishing. Can you help?

12:09 librarian Hi! I apologize for the delay, I was busy helping a patron with an e-book issue. What kind of information are you looking for?

12:10 me I’m writing a book, and I’d like to know what information is available for publishing it myself. How would I go about publishing? I’m looking for instruction, I guess.

12:12 librarian No problem. We do have a couple of books in thelibrary that might be good for you. The best one would be “How to write and self-publish your own book : 7 steps to a finished product in 30 days” by Joani Ward. It is checked out now, but I could put a hold on for you. Here is a link to the search I did in our catalog. Take a look at some of the other books, particularly the Microsoft Word book. It might help with formatting etc.

12:15 librarian We are also going to be hosting a series of lectures on publishing and writing in November, for National Novel Writing Month. We’ll be discussing issues like marketing and online resources for writers wanting to publish. We also have some hours blocked out throughout that month where local authors can come to the library and write together. Those are going to be on Wednesdays in November from 6:30 to 8 p.m. I’ll take a look online right now and get back to you in a few minutes with what I find.

12:17 me Thank you. I’m going to step away a minute myself, but  please do reply with what you find when you’re available. I’ll leave the window open. Thank you.

12:19 librarian Ok, I found a lot of stuff online I hope will help. First, here is a pretty detailed guide from a publishing expert on the different options and steps to self-publishing:

12:23 me That looks really good. Did you have any more?

12:23 librarian These next two sites are services that help people with the process. On both, you can access information on how to get started with your book and they can help you with designing a cover, formatting pages, etc. Of the two, I would recommend Lulu. it’s a very easy-to-use site and has a lot of good information and simple steps to getting your book published.

12:23 librarian

12:24 librarian CreateSpace is also a pretty commonly used site, I just prefer Lulu’s user-friendliness.

12:24 me Excellent!

12:24 me Thank you very much. Those will do nicely.

Although I was happy with the outcome, it did feel somewhat awkward at the end, in regard to how to end the interaction.  And 25 minutes did seem to be a long time, when not actually speaking with someone face-to-face.

In “Shall We Get Rid of the Reference Desk,” Dennis Miles cites Karen Summerhill’s argument that library reference service is “designed for ‘emergency style services in a non-emergency situation,’” and that “consultation should be offered by appointment.”  However, his research found that face-to-face interaction at the reference desk is still the main means of providing reference services for most libraries, with other electronic interfaces offered to supplement desk service. (2013)  Erin Cassidy, in “So Text Me—Maybe” found that 59% of reference interactions via text message reviewed for the survey “received human responses within 30 minutes of the initial question,” and notes that only 11% of studied patrons used the service a second time (2014).

In my experience, I would have to say that patrons are looking for “emergency-style services.”  Every librarian knows well the experience of having patrons come looking for resources at the last minute before a paper or project is due.  To these patrons, their situation is an emergency.  Perhaps the low rate of returning users to electronic interfaces for reference questions has to do with a lack of accessibility, listening, and inquiring.  Most of the interactions I had did not seem to meet the accessibility guidelines, and the resources provided, especially those that were library programs I would have to wait several weeks to attend, did not suit my immediate needs.  However, none of the librarians I interacted with considered how immediate my research need might be.

All-in-all, I found the experience enlightening.  The Carmel-Clay interaction provided me a prime example of a professional, experienced reference interview, and an example to aspire to.  However, the flaws with electronic interfaces in the reference interaction, such as a lack of back-and-forth interaction, inquiry, and accessibility, leads me to believe that the reference desk will continue to be the main means of providing reference services to patrons for a long time to come.


Cassidy, E. D., Colmenares, A., & Martinez, M. (2014). So Text Me–Maybe. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 53(4), 300-312.

Miles, D. B. (2013). Shall We Get Rid of the Reference Desk?. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 52(4), 320-333. doi:10.5860/rusq.52n4.320

Schwartz, H. R., & Trott, B. (2014). The Application of RUSA Standards to the Virtual Reference Interview. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 54(1), 8-11.

1.2 Reflection: Anticipate emerging trends and respond proactively.

The plan I wrote for the Preparation for A+ Certification program demonstrates my ability to anticipate emerging trends and respond proactively, in that I have gathered statistical information in order to analyze the complex problem of local underemployment, and responded appropriately with a program well-suited to addressing that problem.  Analyzing this problem required that I retrieve, evaluate and synthesize statistical information on employment and education in the local community.  I then provided guidance on the use of information to the segment of the service population who is underemployed by mediating a successful interaction between those patrons with the need for skills to improve their opportunities for employment and a local service group who could meet those needs.

Analyzing this information helped me to understand the importance of statistics in recognizing and defining patron needs, but most of all in justifying services provided to patrons to meet those needs.  Apart from program planning, similar methods can be used for identifying additional information needs and resources among the library’s patron population.  For example, community statistical information might indicate a need for additional foreign language materials, or suggest a need for an online database focusing on specific subject matter.  In the future, I expect to continue to analyze community needs using statistical information as the basis for program planning, and for identifying appropriate and useful information resources and services to bring to patrons.  As such, I believe I have demonstrated mastery understanding of this program goal, that I anticipate emerging trends and respond proactively.

1.1 Reflection: Understand the social, political, ethical, and legal aspects of information.

My literature analysis of research related to library service to Native American communities shows my understanding of the political and ethical aspects of information access, ownership, service, and communication, in that it questions how researchers and librarians understand these aspects themselves.

In the paper, I provide examples of instances when neither the researchers nor the librarians in the study recognized that they were acting contrary to the ethics, values, and foundational principals, for example, falling prey to “white savior complex” in serving patrons, making statements such as “Truly, there are folks who think I walk on water [because] of the help I give.”  Here, the librarian has misunderstood the role of library and information professionals.  Another defends actions perceived as racist by patrons and questions the accusation, rather than taking stock of behavior and adapting to patron feedback.  In failing to do so, the librarian fails to understand the social, economic, and cultural policies and trends of significance to the library and information profession.  The example of inviting Elders to storytime shows that the librarian doesn’t take the time to understand patron needs before assuming what they are and trying to fill them.

In recognizing these faults in the application of the political and ethical aspects of information access, I indicate that I must know what the appropriate applications of these aspects of access are.  And in offering the suggestion that librarians pursue a different perspective toward service to Native American communities by seeking out barriers to access that are unique to Native communities instead of barriers that are common to populations with low usage rates, I demonstrate understanding of the social, public, economic, and cultural policies and trends of significance to the library and information profession.