Jenn Stayton, Frances Chung and Anima Bajracharya of the University of North Texas Libraries selected as winner of Gail Schlachter Memorial Research Grant

The Gail Schlachter Memorial Research Grant is awarded annually to financially support an individual or collaborative group conducting research into reference or user services whose research projects aim to better understand or answer key questions related to connecting people to resources, information services, and collections.

Jenn Stayton is the Student Engagement Librarian at UNT Libraries and oversees their “Ask Us” research support services as leader of the Research and Engagement unit. As a former Digital Projects Librarian and lifelong “digital humanist”, her research focuses on creating user centered experiences in information settings and promoting peer-to-peer connections within the library. She obtained her MIS from the University of North Texas in 2013 and returned to her alma mater in 2018 for the opportunity to mentor graduate students and young library professionals in her role as both librarian and graduate assistant supervisor.

Frances Chung is a first-year MLS student and Graduate Services Assistant at the University of North Texas. Prior to starting the Library Science graduate program and obtaining her current position at UNT Libraries in Denton, she worked at the UNT Dallas library. Frances holds a BS in Biology from Texas A&M University, where she first discovered her interest in libraries as a student worker. She is also a 2019 ALA Spectrum Scholar.

Anima Bajracharya is a graduate student who is working towards becoming a librarian. She is currently a Graduate Services Assistant for the Access Services department at the University of North Texas Libraries. She obtained her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science in 2018 and is currently pursuing her second master’s in Data Science, both from UNT.

Jen, Frances and Anima’s submission was chosen the winner for acknowledging that collecting reference statistics remains an important aspect of public services assessment models in academic libraries. Yet perceptions about consistent reporting gathered from recent surveys and a lack of sustained engagement with reporting activities and systems lead many to question if recording reference and informational interactions is worth the daily effort. It is theorized that the decline of reported reference interactions overall may in part be attributed to a lack of awareness of how and when reference interactions should be reported.

Therefore, the main goal of the team, is to study various methods of creating and sustaining engagement with reference assessment activities across different groups of reference service providers. In acknowledging that different employee groups have different expectations, duties, and skill levels, they hope to address how those differences might impact engagement for the long-term and routine activity of recording reference statistics.

This project will look at aspects of recording and reporting in the reference statistics process that may affect engagement and test the impact of different engagement methods over a period of six months. Data about engagement will be gathered by survey and open comment forms, as well as by an analysis of data in both systems. By encouraging personal and group behaviors that sustain engagement with reference data at each level of professional expertise, more consistent service provision and service reporting may be achieved across library employee groups.

The 2020 Gail Schlachter Memorial Research Grant committee members are: Dave Tyckoson (Chair), Barry Trott, Bryna Coonin, Qiana Johnson and Jennifer Boettcher.

More information regarding the RUSA Gail Schlachter Memorial Research Grant is available here.

In Memory of Gail A Schlachter

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