University of South Florida

University of South Florida

Lily Todorinova (USF Tampa Library, University of South Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4241-6.ch006

Abstract

Throughout the history of the University of South Florida Libraries, instruction and reference have coexisted in one department, currently known as Academic Services, and as a result, have influenced each other operationally and conceptually. Desk staffing, for example, has been affected by patterns of classroom scheduling, by placing an additional librarian at the desk per night, in case they are needed to teach an incoming class. This has been driven by a philosophy of instruction that has focused on the one-shot orientation and expediency. Customization and active learning techniques have always been employed by instructional librarians, but have become more consistent over time. The influence of instructional methodology on reference, and vise versa, is strongly driven by the library’s long-standing relationship with First Year Composition (FYC). Like many academic libraries, USF has strived to have a visible and active role in the academic success of its users, while managing demand for services with quality and currency. Reference and instruction have been at the forefront of these efforts. Influenced by the Learning Commons Model and philosophy, Academic Services has attempted a number of new ways of delivering public services, which have recently culminated in a tiered, “on-call,” model of reference, with an increased reliance on virtual chat, and an assignment-specific and course-integrated method of instruction, supported by the growing production of online learning objects and services. The future of reference and instruction at USF Libraries will undoubtedly be a product of these changes and the continuous effort to redefine public services.
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Objectives Of The Chapter

  • The reader will recognize Learning Commons elements in the reference and instruction programs at the USF Tampa Library.

  • The reader will explore the relationship between reference and instruction and, in particular, the influence of the First Year Composition Program on both services.

  • The readers will benefit from a discussion on the challenges, directions, and future considerations for reference and instruction at the USF Libraries and similar academic institutions.

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Setting The Stage: Reference

Reference services at the USF Tampa Libraries have gone through significant transformations and experimentations. The history of the reference desk itself marks a discernible effort to self-define through trying out various models that have emerged from the Learning Commons, such as the combining of service points with the Information Technology (IT) desk, experimenting with the concept of a “Research Suite” for graduate students and faculty, collocating with the Writing Center and, most recently, a tiered approach to reference. The main factors that have impacted reference services at USF Tampa Library are 1) technological changes, 2) ideological shifts, reflected in the location and staffing of the reference desk, and 3) the library instruction program for First Year Composition classes, which has had a tremendous influence on the reference desk. The changes that have occurred in reference, in turn, have had a strong and perceivable impact on the library’s instructional program and continue to inform information literacy practices.

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