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More Staff Means More Service

Our library’s Annual Report was due yesterday afternoon, and I’ve gotta say, I’m very interested in one particular measure my supervisor included this year. She tracked the number of classes taught, students taught, and individual consultations held by each librarian for the last five years. Then she averaged the total by the number of librarians employed each year to show that adding staff directly impacted the services we provide.

For the first two years there were “only” five librarians and these librarians conducted quite a few individual consultations and classes per year, and they reached a lot of students. For the next two years there were six librarians, and each of these librarians conducted a few more consultations and classes per year, and they reached a few more students. Each librarian was, on average, more busy than the average librarian in the first two year. Last year, though, there were eight librarians, and each of us conducted LOTS of consultations that year and reached a LOT more students even though we taught only a few more classes than in previous years. Each “average” librarian was significantly more busy than the average librarian in any of the previous years. The graph doesn’t just slant up, it curves up quite steeply.

I think a few things have contributed to this change. Not only has our emphasis on transforming from a “faceless” institution to a “faced” institution begun to pay dividends, but we’ve begun to be perceived as accessible by the students, and we’ve begun to develop more individualized relationships with our faculty (both in pedagogical contexts and in campus social contexts). Best of all, even though we’re not faculty, we’re no longer seen as outsiders in faculty reading groups or campus committees. (Of course, I keep saying “we” but since I only joined this staff last year I can really only claim credit for riding the tidal wave. My co-workers are AWESOME.)

Not that we’re absolutely loved or completely trusted or anything. There’s a long way yet to go. But we’re beginning to see the fruits of our labors, and I am SO excited to be here to watch this tipping point in action.

And what’s in store this year? Well, I can’t speak for the rest of my co-workers (though I know they’re all teaching classes and holding consultations at a breathtaking rate). But even though I teach fewer classes and provide fewer consultations than most of my co-workers, I’ve already had more consultations this October than I had last October (and I’ve only gotten through one week of this October). This year we’re hearing a lot more students who say their professors recommended they come talk to us. And today I had my first instance of a student telling me, “I have a friend in a different major, and she keeps saying what a help her librarian is and asking me if I have a librarian. She keeps saying I should come see you.” Cool! I think our service is really taking hold.

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