Ending the Turf War: Circulation, Reference, and Instruction on One Team
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In January 2008, the Belk Library and Information Commons at Appalachian State University combined the Access Services staff members of the Circulation and Lower Level Service Desk with the Reference and Instruction team as part of a library-wide reorganization effort. The creation of the newly comprised Learning & Research Services (LRS) team effectively ended the long-standing turf war between the traditional Access Services and Reference & Instruction teams by placing all personnel responsible for public service on the same team. The new team makeup balanced what had been a staff dominated Access Services team with a library faculty dominated Reference & Instruction team. Our focus became providing high quality and consistent public service at all of our three public service desks: Reference, Circulation and the Lower Level Service Desk. Some positive outcomes of this change resulted in: engaging more librarians into the day-to-day operations of the service desks, improving the basic reference and circulation skills of team staff members, cross training and sharing over 40 student assistants, centralized scheduling, and the consistent collection of desk statistics at all three desks through an electronic statistical counter created in-house. Although the transition has been successful, it has not been without challenges. Some thorny issues include reconsidering the appropriate roles of librarians and staff, melding the traditional and possibly conflicting service philosophies of Access and Reference, and the willingness to experiment with different service and staffing models in an information commons environment. This presentation will outline Belk Library's experience in ending the turf war between tradition circulation and traditional reference service models, our process of implementing this new team model, the benefits, challenges, and lessons learned of crossing that line, as well as next steps for the future.