Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Research & Instruction Department: Goals & Objectives

Goals and Objectives

The mission of Hilton C. Buley Library’s Research & Instruction Department is to provide quality research & information services to the University community in a professional and timely manner, to develop and maintain a collection of print and electronic resources that support the learning, teaching and research needs of the university, and to instruct individuals, groups, and classes on the retrieval and effective use of information sources.

In order to provide quality service to the University community, the Research & Information Desk is staffed by a librarian most (not all) hours the library is open. Research librarians use the most effective innovative and traditional techniques in providing information, and instruct patrons in the value and use of the library's collections. The department recognizes that patron information needs and demands require that Research & Instruction staff members possess substantial capabilities and competencies and will strive to serve patrons with knowledge, alertness, accuracy, and speed.

The basic objective of the department is to provide direct support of the University curriculum through answering the research questions of patrons and by providing current, easily-accessible materials to answer those queries. In meeting the patron needs, the Research & Instruction Department follows standards presented in "Information Services for Information Consumers: Guidelines for Providers", prepared by the American Library Association in June, 1990. The department regularly reviews its guidelines for both the subject scope of the Reference Collection and the types of materials included in it. Also, it aims to set procedures for acquiring new materials and for weeding the collection to ensure the development and maintenance of a complete, current, and convenient Reference Collection.

Reference Queries (excluding directional and basic technology questions) during academic semesters

As with many libraries, we have seen a gradual decline in questions asked at the reference desk or via other mediums. The likely explanation is the increase in “self-service” types of access, an improvement in search interfaces, and a general, increasing familiarity (though not necessarily expertise) in online searching. There is a general pattern of higher fall numbers and lower spring numbers, reflecting the familiarity with searching gained by our incoming fall students. However, changes create questions! The spike in Fall 2017 is probably related to the switch from our previous library catalog system to the new Alma/Primo “SouthernSearch” which happened in January 2017. While it’s not as clear, the lack in a decline in Spring 2017 from the previous spring is also most likely due to this change. Our lowest numbers by far were in Spring 2020, reflecting the scramble to adjust to the pandemic closures – many people reported simply making due with what they could easily find and not asking for more. We rolled out an expanded chat service at the end of the semester, when it became clear that this wasn’t a short term problem. It was too late to see a strong increase in questions that semester, but we made up for that in the fall. We had more questions than we have had in years, as faculty, staff, students, community members, and unaffiliated users turned to the Library for resources and answers. Our expanded chat services will continue post-pandemic, and the Library will continue to strengthen our virtual offerings and services to better serve our community, especially online and commuting students.

Reference Queries (excluding directional and basic technology questions) during academic semesters

 

Fall 2015 Spring 2016 Fall 2016 Spring 2017 Fall 2017 Spring 2018 Fall 2018 Spring 2019 Fall 2019 Spring 2020 Fall 2020 Spring 2021
Desk Questions 1069 781 972 737 1473 599 574 538 620 262 361 277
Chat 133 93 113 127 146 84 122 82 170 244 1862 1208
Total Reference Queries 1202 874 1085 864 1619 683 696 620 790 506 2223 1485

Library Instruction Statistics

  Fall 2011 Spring 2012 Fall 2012 Spring 2013 Fall 2013 Spring 2014 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 Spring 2016 Fall 2016 Spring 2017 Fall 2017 Spring 2018 Fall 2018 Spring 2019 Fall 2019 Spring 2020 Fall 2020 Spring 2021
Library Instruction Sessions

 

118

 

89

 

164

 

88

 

148

 

74

 

108

 

60

 

119

 

54

 

126

 

52

 

131

 

42

 

155

 

42

 

149

 

36

 

93

 

35

Number of Students in Instruction Sessions

 

2000

 

1500

 

2732

 

1460

 

2791

 

1278

 

2016

 

1068

 

2246

 

1164

 

2583

 

1023

 

2192

 

791

 

2597

 

765

 

2349

 

697

 

1350

 

554

Individual Appointments with Librarians

 

200

 

279

 

220

 

183

 

165

 

215

 

206

 

190

 

329

 

222

 

262

 

190

 

327

 

344

 

267

 

308

 

405

 

344

 

379

 

232

Bar Graph of Library Instruction Sessions 2011-21Bar Graph of Appoints with Librarians 2011-21