Core Reference Responsibilities for Public Services Task Force: Charge
The establishment of this Task Force is an effort to follow through on two previous recent
reports, the recommendations of which follow:
- Organizational Review: Reference Report, January 21, 2010, p.5, stated as its first
recommendation "[The] Need for some framework or authority to help ensure a reasonably equitable
workload among librarians regarding reference." It further stated "To accomplish this, consider a
structure and/or an action-oriented body (either as a component of USC or not) with substantial
commitment and with authority to address operational needs an to [sic] evaluative process of
specific reference services in a timely manner."
- Report of the Chat Reference Services Task Force of the Rutgers University Libraries, April 26,
2011, p.7, reads: "Therefore the committee recommends that the service draw from all public
service librarians RUL-wide for the purposes of staffing."
Subsequently, the User Services Council (USC), at its April 26, 2011 meeting, held initial
discussion of the need to enhance hours and staffing of our popular chat reference services and,
furthermore, the need for a document that will set out expectations for core responsibilities of
public service librarians in contributing to the various forms of reference that we provide: these
forms include 1) traditional desk reference; 2) Ask-a Librarian email reference; 3) chat
reference; and 4) advanced research consultations (defined as scheduled individual librarian
consultations with students, faculty or, occasionally, others). Hence, the genesis of this Core
Reference Responsibilities for Public Service Librarians Task Force. Four librarian volunteers
will serve as members; two others will be invited to join with them.
Expectations for the Task Force:
- Review and discuss the above two reports, culling them for previously gathered relevant information
- Survey and analyze trends in the utilization of public service librarians at peer institutions and discover if they have any documents that would help our effort
- Consider differing cultures within our Rutgers Libraries, i.e. campus variations, disciplinary differences, graduate vs. undergraduate vs. professional school differences
- Review existing reference statistics within our libraries and provide hard evidence of the data and trends
- Include consideration of individual librarian instructional workloads and the impact this has not only on each librarian's immediate contact hours but also on the implication each instructional commitment has for an added volume of follow-up questions and consultations directed to that person.
- Review appropriate comments from Counting Opinions for appropriate input
- Consider whether any existing services should be modified or eliminated
- Ask whether any additional technologies exist to help us streamline delivery of services, hence the number of librarian hours needed to serve our public
Goals of the Task Force:
- Specifically name and affirm core responsibilities of public service librarians
- Recommend any modifications in services and provide appropriate rationales
- Suggest a model or set of norms for the number of contact hours that each public service librarian should be expected to deliver regardless of other duties (liaison, selection, technical, administrative roles)
- Recommend any additional types of support (e.g. training, administrative or technical support, use of part-time librarians) needed to deliver superior quality reference service
The challenge for this task force will be to provide recommendations that are neither too rigid
nor formulaic but nevertheless provide some guidance to help each librarian determine whether
he/she measures up to peer expectations in their responsibility to provide what we consider to be
reference service. All public service librarians need to operate within a framework of equity and
fairness in their delivery of this core service.
The Task Force will provide periodic updates to the User Services Council and should plan to
submit its final report to the Associate University Librarian-Research and Instructional Services
and the User Services Council by December 1, 2011.
Revised and approved at USC meeting 5/11/2011