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Friday, June 8, 2012

Gathering Reference Statistics a Balance of Privacy

As mentioned earlier, reference is one of the high touch, possibly high impact services. Reference is an area of great privacy concern. How do you gather reference statistics? We started with the low hanging fruit, which also was the least intrusive, chat reference.

Like many institutions, the University of Minnesota uses QuestionPoint for chat and e-mail reference. When a patron poses a question via chat, the inclusion of their e-mail address is not required, and using their designated University of Minnesota e-mail is not specified. However, at least we have some data to use. Many other institutions use services such as Meebo, which use anonymous chat patron handles, making gathering data much more difficult. QuestionPoint transactions are accessible for only 90 days, which means we need to go in and retrieve the data at numerous points during the semester.

How do we gather in-person reference transaction statistics without impeding privacy and maintaining a welcoming atmosphere? Please post suggestions in the comments below.

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