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Marx Library Staff Training for Reference: Desk Statistics

About Desk Statistics

The Marx Library uses desk statistics to help us determine how, when and with whom to staff the reference desk. We depend on these statistics to let us know when the busiest times are at the desk, and they help us keep current with the information needs of our patrons.

Statistics Definitions

Use this as a guideline when marking the reference desk statistics sheets. It’s not meant to be comprehensive, so use your best judgement:

Directional/Institutional Information: This would include reception-like requests such as directional questions about the building or campus, questions about specific library services, and taking messages.  Necessary Staff:  Marx Library staff and trained student workers.

Technical Assistance: This includes hardware and software questions and assistance with library technology, no matter the length of time involved in the support.  Necessary Staff: Marx Library staff and trained student workers.

Ready Reference: This includes quick “look-ups” such as title searches, basic internet searches, or informational questions (example: “How do I cite a journal using APA?”). Necessary Staff: Marx Library staff.

Reference Transaction: This includes exchanges which include both a full reference interview and engagement with information resources.  While these transactions are likely to be longer than a quick “look-up,” it is recommended that exchanges lasting more than 10 minutes be referred to a subject specialist for a research consultation.  Necessary Staff:  Reference librarians.

Referrals: Any time you send a question, whether via chat, phone, email, or in-person, to another librarian with subject expertise or to another library (such as Biomed.)

Statistics Sheet

The statistics sheet used at the Reference Desk looks like this. The sheet used at the Circulation desk has been modified to include all hours the library is open. It also does not include chat.

Download the actual form:

Reference Statistics via LibInsight

In order to record reference transactions and referrals, the Reference & Instruction Department uses LibInsight; at this time, we will be using it only to record Reference Transactions and Referrals  To enter records, use the following procedure:

  1. Login into your LibGuides account @
  2. From the bar at the top, use the pull down menu to choose LibInsight.
  3. Click on Record Data
  4. Choose a type of query from the Question Type pull-down menu
  5. Your name will be the default under Entered By.
  6. Choose a Question Source -- this field is required.
  7. Enter applicable information
  8. Click Submit.

Download step-by-step instructions: