Research & Information Services Statistics and Highlights, Fall 2011

| December 22, 2011

During Fall 2011, the Research & Information Services team delivered a substantial number of in-person, telephone, and email reference exchanges, one-on-one research consultations, and course-specific library information sessions.  The following is a summary of reference and public services provided to the academic community during the Fall semester.

  • As of the last week in December before the winter break, a total of 605 in-person and phone reference queries had been fielded.
  • Research & Information Services received and responded to 528 queries of various kinds submitted via the library’s Support Request (ticketing) system, an average of about 4.5 per day.
  • Public service librarians provided 117 research consultations to individuals or small groups.
  • Team members presented 22 in-class, course-specific library information sessions for a total of 410 students.
  • Research & Information Services librarians provided 12 library tours at the beginning of the semester, for a total of 95 attendees.

The library’s Ask-A-Librarian service, our 24/7 online chat option, is administered by the organization  During the Fall 2011 semester, a total of 247 online chat sessions were transacted.  The average session duration was 20.75 minutes.

Research & Information Services,  in conjunction with the service providers, fielded a steady stream of email and in-person reference questions and requests for research consultations that covered the gamut of complexity and addressability.  These queries ranged from requests for help with fairly straightforward technical problems—how to locate a database on our library’s website or the Columbia University Libraries site, how to determine what’s available here and at Columbia, how to link to e-versions of journal articles and books—to the need for assistance constructing and executing a database search or searches of multiple databases, to help finding foundation grant support, to support for in-depth research projects and thesis and dissertation work.

These are some of the major categories of reference questions and access services-related queries we and our colleagues received and dealt with during the Fall 2011 semester:

  • Requests for help accessing e-journal articles via our library or Columbia University Libraries:  a major issue for users, and frequently a major area of confusion.
  • Queries about the e-reserve system:  how to submit requests, set up folders for individual class meetings, move materials from one semester’s course to the next, problems with linkage to e-resources, etc.
  • Requests for help finding or using exams, assignments, the digital dropbox, discussion boards, other features of Blackboard courses.
  • Suggestions about equipment, technologies, furniture, etc. that the library should acquire, provide, relocate, etc.
  • Processing overdue fines and other financial transactions, unblocking (and blocking) student accounts, revising and updating information on users in the library’s circulation system.
  • Troubleshooting problems with access to e-resources, issues relating to student and alumni privileges, disputed fines situations, etc.
  • Requests for assistance with the identification of relevant databases, with search strategy formulation, and with the retrieval of scholarly/peer-reviewed literature.

And this is a random sampling of actual questions submitted to the Ask-A-Librarian chat service, some of which eventually made their way to email interchanges with Gottesman librarians:

  • Can I access the articles another professor has put on ereserves for my class?
  • I’d like to know how to renew books online.
  • I submitted a request for an article.  The response said TC Library owns it.  However, I cannot find a link to it.  What do I do now?
  • I can’t find the e-book section for a full text book.
  • A professor sent me the title of an article that I should read, and said it is accessible through the TC library.  How do I find the article?
  • I wonder if you could tell me the number of volumes contained in the library that are available for student use?
  • Does TC provide EndNote (or a program like it) to its students?
  • Can you find a book for me in the City if I give you the ISBN?
  • How can I specifically search for peer-reviewed journal articles?
  • Where are the copies of very old dissertations kept?
  • I have an assignment that requires I find and cite a literature review on my topic.  I don’t know where I can find literature reviews.  Can you please tell me where to look?
  • How do I export references from EDUCAT to RefWorks?
  • What time is the library closing today?
  • I am trying to figure out whether to use EndNote or Zotero for a research project.  What do your suggest?
  • How loud are people allowed to talk on the 2nd floor of Gottesman Library?
  • I’m an alum staying at Teachers College guest housing and had an unpleasant encounter with the Flex machine on the 2nd floor.  I need help getting a Flex card!
  • I am wondering which libraries Columbia/TC has reciprocity with.
  • Where is a good place to look for a definition of  “common knowledge” as it relates to physics?
  • I am using one of the library laptops and it got locked.  Could you please give me the password?
  • Is there any way to make book borrowers who borrowed the books that I need urgently return the books fast?

In addition to relatively straightforward questions of this nature, a good number of in-depth research-related queries were submitted, many of which eventuated in one-on-one research consultations with Gottesman Research & Information Services librarians.  This Fall we did a brisk business assisting students with research pertaining to art and art education, international educational development, and applied linguistics, but consultation requests came to us from many programs in virtually all of the College’s academic departments.