THE READ SCALE (REFERENCE EFFORT ASSESSMENT DATA)© STUDY: QUALITATIVE REFERENCE STATISTICS. A REPORT ON THE 2007 UNITED STATES NATIONAL STUDY WITH CURRENT EXAMPLES FROM THE FIELD
1 Dominican University (UNITED STATES)
2 Carnegie Mellon University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:A 2002 ARL survey on reference statistics & assessments gives supporting evidence that many academic institutions are not completely satisfied with the usefulness of statistics gathered for reference services. The study revealed a situation in flux:
"The study reveals a lack of confidence in current data collection techniques. Some dissatisfaction may be due to the fact that 77% of responding libraries report that the number of reference transactions has decreased in the past three years. With many librarians feeling as busy as ever, some have concluded that the reference data collected does not accurately reflect librarian's level of activity". (ARL/SPEC/Kit268)
It was with this sentiment that the READ Scale was developed. The READ Scale (Reference Effort Assessment Data)© is a six-point scale tool for recording vital supplemental qualitative statistics gathered when reference staff assist users with their inquiries or research-related activities by placing an emphasis on recording the effort / knowledge / skills / teaching etc utilized by library staff during a reference transaction.
Institutional research grants enabled the authors to conduct a national study of the READ Scale at (14) diverse academic libraries and test its use as a tool for recording reference statistics. The study represents data collected from 179 individuals and 24 service points with over 22,000 transactions analyzed. There was a 52% return rate of an online survey of participants, with over 80% of respondents indicating they would recommend / adopt the Scale. The READ Scale has the potential to transform how reference statistics are gathered, interpreted and valued.
The paper proposed will introduce the READ Scale U.S. study in an international forum. Audience members will be invited to test the READ Scale at their own institutions, expanding the study of the Scale and reference assessment globally / culturally.
Current methodologies for data gathering of statistics do not adequately reflect the effort / knowledge / experience / skill / value-added service of reference staff. The READ Scale (Reference Effort Assessment Data) was developed as a tool in an attempt to gather unrecorded qualitative ‘value-added’ data associated with the reference transaction. The U.S. national study was conducted to test the viability of the READ Scale as an adaptable / adoptable tool at diverse institutions and determine its effectiveness and practical applications in reference librarianship, and acquire data to support or disprove to its use in the modern context of the statistics / assessment / measures / recognition of value-added service related to reference work.
Study components (abbreviated):
• Identify / recruitment of 14 diverse (size, location, mission, affiliation) academic institutions
• Satisfy IRB protocols
• Establish site coordinators
• Coordination of unilateral pre-testing / normalization of the READ Scale across libraries
• Procedures for disseminating instructions / integration of Scale into existing data gathering processes
• Online anonymous survey conducted of individuals at termination of study
Results & discussion:
• Viability: locally, nationally, internationally
• Normalization of reference transactions across institutions
• Problems encountered
• Comparative data analysis
• Practical use
Examples from institutions currently using the READ Scale with also be shared.
Keywords: innovation, research projects, reference, academic libraries, statistics, qualitative.