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The LibRAT Program: Peer Reference and Basic IL Instruction

COVID and Renovation Exile

During COVID and our exile from the library we now have the students read all the chat transcripts that have come in since their most recent shift.  This allows them to see what questions are afoot, and also strategies by our own providers and our remote providers for answering questions.  They can also view all the follow ups provided by the coordinator or any notes put into the notes field.  It is a great tool for continuous learning.

Evaluation of Desk and Chat Transactions

We use an online survey tool to tabulate information regarding in person and phone transactions at the Research Help Desk.  This includes several required fields, such as Quarter, In Person or Phone, and the type of transaction, i.e., In depth-Research, Directional, etc.

More importantly, from a service standpoint, is an open text box where providers enter information about the question, and also tell how they answered the question. 

We used these entries to inform the original training, and now use them to provide information to everyone about "better" answers.  One of the more seasoned LibRATs reviews weekly printouts of these transactions, rates the answers according to a rubric, and highlights answers that are problematic so we can address them.

We use a similar method for tracking online chat questions.  Our online chat is provided by LibRATs, Librarians, and staff, and a transcript of each transaction is emailed to a gmail account.  A LibRAT cuts and pastes these into a document each week, rates answers, and highlights problematic answers.

We meet at the end of each quarter to debrief, and the LibRATs also provide feedback about what works/doesn't work for them.

Sample Documents

We print out weekly desk transactions records and chat transcripts.  The coordinator reviews and annotates, and then the LibRATs all read, annotate and initial.  This allows for continuous learning from experience and the distribution of knowledge for the entire team.