Technology that Enables, Services that Empower

ISHAK, Yuyun W. (2018) Technology that Enables, Services that Empower. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2018 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Transform Libraries, Transform Societies in Session S04 - Reference and Information Services with Information Technology. In: Reinventing Reference with Technology Transformations, 23 August 2018, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Technology that Enables, Services that Empower

Before 2016, the Library offered two different information desks: one for general/circulation enquiry and one for reference enquiry. The problem at that time was quite glaring: we were to open a new library branch, and if we replicated the information desks, we would have ended up with 4 different information desks, causing constraints in human resources and logistics. The solution seemed obvious: to merge the information desks into a single desk, hence cutting down the needs for staffing. The implementation, however, was not that straightforward. Staff who used to manage circulation enquiry were not comfortable with reference enquiry, and vice versa. Upskilling and training might answer some of the problems, but it was unrealistic to expect everyone to become jack-of-all-trade. Technology, deployed strategically and used thoughtfully, really assisted the desk merging process. We merged various library’s email accounts into a single account and streamlined the email management. Skype for Business was used as synchronous communication tool, hence staff at desk would always have support and escalation points. To simplify statistics collection, we switched from various Excel and Access forms, to a simple Gimlet form. We utilized Springshare’s LibGuides and LibFAQ as knowledge bank, and used LibStaffer to create an online desk roster. These technologies were easy to implement and relatively easy to use. Once staff got used to these technologies, it was much simpler to move forward together. Recently, we have started offering info/reference chat service. This service did not go well in the past, and one of the reasons was the apprehension from staff when dealing with chat technology and handling questions that they might not be able to answer. Now, staff are accustomed to Skype and chat, and fully aware on how to manage and escalate questions while maintaining an excellent service level.

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