Rutgers Online Automated Retrieval Service (ROARS) Policy

A. General Statement

The Rutgers Online Automated Retrieval Service (ROARS) is a librarian-mediated online information retrieval service offered by the Rutgers University Libraries. ROARS searches are performed on a fee-for-service basis and are partially subsidized by the University Libraries. Electronic resources used for ROARS include licensed databases available without charge on the university network or databases available on a "pay as you go" basis. The Libraries participating in ROARS are Alcohol Studies, Alexander, Chang Science, Dana, Kilmer, Douglass, Mathematical Sciences, Library of Science and Medicine, and Paul Robeson.

B. Eligibility

The purpose of the ROARS service is to support the academic research and teaching endeavors of Rutgers students, faculty, administrators, and staff and university affiliates.

1. The primary community to be served by ROARS consists of current students, staff, and faculty, faculty emeritus, and the following University affiliates: current students, faculty, and staff of the UMDNJ/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

2. ROARS is not available to:

These individuals will be referred to the contract library for searching services in the appropriate New Jersey Library Network region.

If it becomes known prior to the search that a search request is not in support of an eligible individual's own research or teaching and is being requested for an ineligible outside individual or company, the search request will be denied and a referral made to an outside search service

3. Searches for library faculty in support of professional research are treated as other faculty searches, that is, performed on a cost-recovery basis.

4. Costs related to system maintenance, searcher updates on news, etc., should be accounted for by ROARS coordinators.

5. Extensive searches for administrative, job related, or committee work should be authorized, in brief written form, by the appropriate library director, chairperson, or associate university librarian and noted in monthly statistics reports.

C. Database Coverage

Generally, each Rutgers library will handle search requests that fall within the scope of its collections. Regardless of where the original search request is made, referrals should be made among libraries, taking into account the availability of expertise in a database at a particular library and the proximity of a requester's office or place of residence.

D. Search Responsibility

Librarians at Rutgers University who have been trained for database searching perform ROARS searches using databases available on a "pay as you go" basis.

E. Search Charges

1. The University Libraries absorb the costs for general overhead and searcher's time devoted to search strategy and conducting searches.

2. All direct costs of a ROARS search using databases available on a "pay as you go" basis will be passed on to the search requester. Results may be printed, downloaded to a disk, or sent to the requester via e-mail. The search requester must supply the disk or, if available, purchase it from the library at normal library charges.

3. A flat fee of $10 will be charged for a librarian-mediated search using licensed databases available on the university network. Results will not be printed but will be downloaded to a disk or sent to the requester via e-mail. There is no additional charge for the disk.

4. A service charge of $3.00/search is added to the cost of each search and passed on to the search requester.

5. Searches can be paid for by cash (not at Paul Robeson), personal check, through grant or departmental account funds, or blanket account funds. Billing options are available. Uniform accounting procedures are established systemwide. ROARS Coordinators are responsible for reconciliation of monthly billing with activity logs.

6. The estimated costs of a search should be shared with the search requester when the search is conducted.

7. In the case of long overdue and unpaid balances for ROARS searches, the ROARS library coordinator will first make personal contact with the individual who made the search request to discuss payments. Procedures for cessation of borrowing privileges will be initiated if payment is not forthcoming following this contact.

Beyond the initial level of contact, the coordinator will judge what succeeding levels of contact should be made, by the unit librarian or by the University Librarian. The library coordinator in conjunction with the library director will decide when contacting the individual's departmental chairperson is warranted.

F. Search Request Procedures

1. ROARS search requests can be made in person, by e-mail, by phone, or by mail. A search request form is completed for every ROARS search performed. Forms are available at the reference desk of each library.

2. For every search, an interview is conducted with the person making the request. The interview appointment is made with the search requester in person or via the phone. The search, however, can be conducted with the requester present or not. The requester should be allowed to make this choice, although the final decision is left to the discretion of the searcher.

G. Coordinating ROARS

1. The Standing Advisory Committee for Public Services monitors the systemwide coordination of ROARS, recommending policies and procedures for the service.

2. A coordinator for database searching is appointed at each library to oversee the day-to-day operations of ROARS and handle all records for ROARS accounting at that library. Each coordinator submits monthly statistical summaries to the administrative assistant in central Public Services and Communications.

H. Continuing Education/Training

1. Introductory training sessions in the search engines and services used by the Rutgers University Libraries are offered within the various libraries to all new reference librarians and as otherwise needed. The Electronic Resources Committee is responsible for documentation and instructional sessions for library users.

2. Refresher or advanced seminars or seminars for new resources or search engines offered by individual database producers can be attended by anyone. Any costs incurred for attendance are normally covered through individual travel funds. When appropriate, committees or other groups may recommend representation at such seminars under administrative travel.

3. Attendance of a Rutgers representative at major vendor "updates" or national online conferences under administrative travel funds will depend on program content and costs of the conference. Any librarian, however, may choose to attend on her/his own.

I. Ready Reference Searching

The preferred tools for ready reference searching are the licensed databases available on the university network. Ready reference searching using databases available on a "pay as you go" basis are limited as indicated in the Guidelines for Ready Reference Searching in appendix I.

Approved University Librarian's Cabinet January 31, 1984, revised June 1998


Guidelines for Ready Reference Searching

1. Definition

An online ready reference search is a short search of one or more databases for the purpose of providing a quick answer to a reference question at no cost to the library patron. The librarian who conducts the search determines if the question is an appropriate one for such service. Online ready reference searches should be considered when the librarian has determined that other references (i.e. RLIN, OCLC, printed tools, etc.) will not satisfy the patron's needs or when a significant amount of the reference librarian's time can be saved.

The preferred tools for ready reference searching are the licensed databases available on the university network. Ready reference searching using databases available on a "pay as you go" basis are limited as indicated in 4 below.

2. Population Served

Online ready reference searches are viewed as an extension of regular reference service. The service is primarily for Rutgers faculty, students, administrators, and staff.

3. Searchers

Any reference librarian or information assistant trained to do online searches may perform a ready reference search.

4. Limiting Factors

a. Amount of Time Per Database/User

These searches should generally not exceed five minutes per database searched. The total time limit per patron should generally not exceed 10 minutes. These are the most important limiting factors and should be viewed in terms of total dollar cost and reference time available.

b. Number of Databases Searched

In some cases, the librarian may find it necessary to search more than one database to answer a specific question. In general, no more than three databases should be searched per question.

c. Citations

No offline citations should be generated from a ready reference search. A limited number of up to five online citations may be generated without abstracts. If a patron is in need of a comprehensive bibliography, the librarian should not try to satisfy that need with a ready reference search but should provide guidance on using licensed databases available without charge on the university network or suggest an appointment for a ROARS search.

d. Cost

For searches using databases available on a "pay as you go" basis, an upper limit of $5.00 per database, or $10.00 per question (where more than one database must be searched) should not be exceeded in most circumstances. Databases that cost over $90.00 per connect hour should be used with caution.

In all cases, ready reference searches are appropriate when the time of the reference librarian is saved.

5. Usage

Although all possible uses of online reference searching cannot be anticipated, what follows is a list of the kinds of questions or circumstances that fall within the scope of this service:

6. Referrals

If the question is within the scope of the library's collection, whether or not the printed source is owned, an online ready reference search may be performed. Patrons should, however, be referred to the appropriate library for questions beyond the scope of their collections.

7. Reporting

Each ROARS coordinator submits separate monthly statistical summaries for ready reference searching to the administrative assistant in central Public Services and Communications so that demand and cost can be assessed.

8. Statistics

The following statistics should be reported on a monthly basis:

  1. Date of Search
  2. Searcher
  3. Number of Questions Searched
  4. Number of Databases Searched Per Question
  5. Cost Per Search
  6. Time Involved Per Search

Public Services Administrative Memo 3 04/15/99

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