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The Library Learning Narrative: A Pilot Project to Capture Learning Outcomes at the Reference Desk
9th Evidence Based Library & Information Practice conference (2017)
  • Rick A Stoddart
  • Beth Hendrix, University of Idaho
3rd Place People's Choice Award Winner at EBLIP9 Conference

Objective: To put it simply, we are what we measure. If libraries measure books, then libraries are about books. If libraries measure learning, than libraries are about learning. One area in libraries that often has significant learning opportunity with patrons is the reference desk. Libraries often gather data about these interactions and traditionally categorize these transactions by question type, time spent answering the question, and time of day. Unfortunately, these traditional measures do little to connect to the learning aspect that may or may not occur during these reference encounters.

Method: This poster introduces a new way to collect evidence to validate library value statements. It outlines a pilot project to redesign the reference assessment instrument to highlight learning activities at the reference desk that traditional means fail to capture, such as how to evaluate resources, correctly cite materials, or other information literacy-related skills.

Results: The poster will graphically depict how these learning activities were mapped to university and national learning goals such as problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking to create an assessment instrument that allows reference services to gather evidence to support statements about the time and effort they contribute to campus learning outcomes.

Conclusion: The research presented in this poster will be of interest to library administrators as well as reference and instruction librarians. It makes the case for better assessment measures at library service points to capture desired learning outcomes such as information literacy. These assessments will allow libraries to better articulate their impact and contribution to desired learning outcomes in the communities they serve. This data will also better convey the value reference services have in supporting and enhancing learning outcomes.
  • reference services,
  • learning outcomes,
  • assessment
Publication Date
June, 2017
Philadelphia, PA
Citation Information
Rick A Stoddart and Beth Hendrix. "The Library Learning Narrative: A Pilot Project to Capture Learning Outcomes at the Reference Desk" 9th Evidence Based Library & Information Practice conference (2017)
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Creative Commons License
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC_BY-SA International License.