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Lindsay Pearce
Assignment 4: Case Study Analysis



Abstract

The library used for this assignment is the Knox County Public Library. This project will be evaluating the main branch, Lawson Mcghee, which is located in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. This project will specifically evaluate the reference service.

4.1 Identify one other PL that provides similar services to the one you propose to assess/evaluate at your PL. Describe, analyze, and provide feedback about the efforts being made at the case-study PL with regard to the selected service and user-centered assessment/evaluation strategies.

Similarly to the Knox County Public Library, the Chattanooga Public library provides a reference service. The Chattanooga Public Library is located in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. The library has both an in-person reference service and an online service. Attempts are being made to phase out the in-person reference service (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 35, 2015). In depth questions are referred to the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga library (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015). This is because the library primarily has materials for entertainment rather than research. Yet, users with queries about genealogy and family histories will receive assistance (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015). The library currently does not employ user-centered assessments (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015). However, the library probably should do some user surveys before completely phasing out the in-person reference service. Some users may become alienated if a major service was removed without community input.
The Chattanooga Public Library also has a service called the 4th floor, which is "a public laboratory and educational facility with a focus on information, design, technology, and the applied arts" (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.). While this isn't a traditional reference service, it provides assistance and resources to further education, including reference materials (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.). This space emphasizes technology, so users with technology queries can come here for reference assistance.
The online reference service is extensive and very useful. The library provides links to databases for patrons to use for research purposes. In fact, there are multiple places on the library's website for users to access research assistance. The webpage for the library's 4th floor has links to databases and other reference resources (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.). In addition to these resources, the library's website has a page that provides resources based on interests. The library also provides reference resources for children and doing homework (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.e).

4.2 For the PL under case-study, describe how the library represents, manages, and provides services related to your selected service/program.

The Chattanooga Public Library offers a reference service both in-person and online. As stated above, the library is attempting to phase out the in-person service, as the materials at the library are for circulation and not reference use. For this reason, the library does not advertise the in-person reference service anywhere on the library's website (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015). Other library resources are advertised through a recording when one calls the library's telephone number, but not the reference service. Interestingly, the reference service is advertised on the library's Facebook page (Facebook, 2015). The library has a physical reference desk that is manned with librarians while the library is open (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015).
The library's 4th floor service, which has reference components, is heavily advertised. This service has a news feed, social media accounts, webpage, and events calendar (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.). Therefore, if a user has technology related reference questions, they could definitely find useful information from the 4th floor. This library service has its own library staff (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015).
The Chattanooga Public Library's website heavily emphasizes digital reference services. These include online tutors offering homework help, a profusion of databases for multiple subjects, and business and career help (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.e). Although the website does not advertise it, users can get help using these resources from librarians (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015). The online reference services are the most visible to users. However, users may be hesitant to use these services, as help is not readily advertised. Some of the resources also take users to other websites, which may alienate some users who have anxiety when using technologies they are unfamiliar with.

4.3 Discuss how your case-study PL represents elements about the service being studied in relation to its scope and objectives, activities, and resources. Also, examine the role of the users in assessing/evaluating the service.

The user has no role in assessing or evaluating the reference service at the Chattanooga Public Library (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015). The scope of the reference service is also not very large. The reference service typically only answers directory questions, such as phone numbers, or genealogical questions (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015). The reason for this reduced scope is that the library doesn't have an extensive reference collection. The materials at the Chattanooga Public Library are typically used more for entertainment purposes than research (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015). The library also does not host any activities related to the reference service. However, the 4th floor service does host activities that inform users on various subjects (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.). If a user develops an information need in regards to one of the topics addressed in an event, it may prove useful in answering the user's query.
The library's mission is "to be the community's catalyst for lifelong learning" (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.b). However, if the library refers most in-depth research questions to the University of Tennessee Chattanooga library, they aren't fulfilling this mission statement. In order to be a catalyst for learning, the library should offer a complete reference service.

4.4 Analyze the effectiveness of the case-study PL in providing the services under study.

The Chattanooga Public Library is not extremely effective at providing the reference service. The library is trying to emphasize other services, and is actively attempting to reduce the reference service currently provided. In fact, for reference questions that are going to involve extensive research, they refer patrons to the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Library. The exception to this rule is people doing research on genealogy or family histories. The Chattanooga Library will help people research these topics. However, the Chattanooga Library's reference service prefers to answer simple questions such as telephone number queries. (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015)
Therefore, although there is a reference desk and service, the service is not very effective for people looking to do actual research. This is a negative factor for the community, as tax money is what funds the public library. If the library is not offering an adequate reference service to the public, the community may feel disgruntled. The library should seriously consider doing a user assessment before completely stopping the reference service.

4.5 Provide similarities and differences between the PL example in your case-study and your collaborating PL. You should find information about the available services at the case-study PL on the web and also contact (email, phone, visit) people working at the PL to gather information.

The Knox County Public Library and the Chattanooga Public Library both have a teen program for young adults. However, the Chattanooga Public Library emphasizes this program much more heavily than the Knox County Public Library does. The Knox County Public Library doesn't host many events for this age group (Knox County Public Library, n.d.e). In contrast, Chattanooga hosts frequent events for teens (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.g). While the Knox County Public Library's website also lists numerous online resources, they don't seem to be marketed as successfully (Knox County Public Library, n.d.c).
Both libraries also include computers with internet access for users, meeting rooms, and fax and telephone capabilities. The computer stations available for patrons also offer tools with which to search the catalogs. (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.f; Knox County Public Library, n.d.d)
A major difference between the Chattanooga Public Library and the Knox County Library is that Chattanooga emphasizes their online resources much more heavily than Knox County. The Chattanooga Public Library has a page dedicated to displaying their online resources and databases (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.e). These databases are organized based on subject, which is a very user-friendly feature. Knoxville also has a page dedicated to databases, but Chattanooga seems to include links to their references on almost every page of their website (Knox County Public Library, n.d.c).
Another major difference in the two libraries is that the Chattanooga Public Library does not emphasize services for adults as heavily as they do their young adult and children services. An example of these services includes knitting and crocheting clubs for members (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.c). The Knox County Library is the opposite. They emphasize adult programming more heavily, although they do also offer children's services (Knox County Public Library, n.d.).
Interestingly, the Chattanooga Public Library emphasizes local history and genealogy, while the Knox County Public Library has a separate entity for research of that nature (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015). The Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, which is an extension of the public library system, is a better resource for history or genealogy queries users may develop (Knox County Public Library, n.d.b).
The Chattanooga Public Library also offers a government service that the Knox County Public Library does not. In Chattanooga, patrons can sign up for their passports at the library (Chattanooga Public Library, n.d.f). This is an excellent service to offer at a public library, as often government agencies have very long waits for similar services. It is a service that the Knox County Public Library should consider implementing.

4.6 What did you learn about user-centered assessment/evaluation and services being studied at the case-study PL in the context of your collaborating PL?

The Chattanooga Public Library does not conduct user-centered assessment in regards to the reference service (E. DeBinn, personal communication, March 25, 2015). It would be interesting to see what a user survey would say about the reference service the library provides. It seems to be a very minimal service, since they refer most questions to the University of Tennessee Chattanooga library. The Chattanooga library should consider doing a user survey before completely phasing out the in-person reference service, as deleting a service could alienate some users and affect the community as a whole.
Similarly, the Knox County Public Library does not regularly conduct user surveys. It would also be interesting to see the results of a user survey at the Knox County Library. Statistics show that the reference service at the Knox County Library is steadily used (J. Drumheller, personal communication, February 5, 2015). However, these statistics do not indicate how users feel about the service they received. The last user survey done was in 2009 (J. Drumheller, personal communication, March 3, 2015). Therefore, it would be beneficial to have an updated study done to show if use of the reference service has significantly increased or decreased since that time.

References

Chattanooga Public Library. (n.d.). 4th Floor. Retrieved from http://chattlibrary.org/4th-floor.

Chattanooga Public Library. (n.d.). About the library. Retrieved from http://chattlibrary.org/about.

Chattanooga Public Library. (n.d.). Events calendar. Retrieved from http://chattlibrary.org/events.

Chattanooga Public Library. (n.d.). Home. Retreived from http://chattlibrary.org.

Chattanooga Public Library. (n.d.). Resources. Retrieved from http://chattlibrary.org/resources.

Chattanooga Public Library. (n.d.). Services. Retrieved from http://chattlibrary.org/services.

Chattanooga Public Library. (n.d.). Teens. Retrieved from http://chattlibrary.org/teens.

Facebook. (2015). The Chattanooga Public Library. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/ChattanoogaPublicLibrary?fref=ts.

Knox County Public Library. (n.d.) Calendars & programs. Retrieved from http://www.knoxlib.org/calendar-programs.

Knox County Public Library. (n.d.). Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection. Retrieved from http://www.knoxlib.org/about/hours-and-locations/calvin-m-mcclung-historical-collection.

Knox County Public Library. (n.d.). Databases A-Z. Retrieved from http://www.knoxlib.org/explore-collection/databases.

Knox County Public Library. (n.d.). Services. Retrieved from http://www.knoxlib.org/about/services.

Knox County Public Library. (n.d.). Teen Central. Retrieved from http://www.knoxlib.org/teen-central.

Spring 2015

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