Document Type



This report is the product of a semester-long study for course 768, Problems in Library and Information Agency Administration at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science.

The purpose of this study was to do an in-depth analysis of the Reference Department at the University of South Carolina’s Thomas Cooper Library. A number of methods of factgathering were employed in the performance of this analysis, including:

• a literature review of the trends, changes and methods of evaluation for reference services nationwide;

• an investigation of the recent history, organization and leadership of Thomas Cooper Library and the Reference Department from documentation available publicly or provided by the administration at Thomas Cooper Library;

• interviews with Thomas Cooper Library administrators

• a survey of all reference department staff conducted electronically using the Flashlight survey module.

The Reference Department at Thomas Cooper Library is a department that is perpetually in flux. The dedicated and flexible staff is one of its great strengths, but the organizational structure has been largely crafted around the abilities of specific individuals, rather than being guided by an organizational philosophy. Constraints on both time and funding have posed additional challenges. With a physical reorganization of this department on the horizon, as well as an upcoming remodel of Thomas Cooper itself, and an increased emphasis on information literacy instruction and technological changes to reference service nationwide, this is an opportune time to make sure all aspects of reference services are coalescing as well as possible.

We respectfully propose a number of achievable modifications to the organization, resource allocation and physical space of the Reference Department. Recommendations include the following:

• Production of a Goals and Objectives statement for the Reference Department;

• Perform job audits and update job descriptions according to what each person is actually doing;

• Cross train staff, so that duties can be equitably dispersed, and support continuing education and professional development efforts;

• Actively market library services to students and faculty within their dorms or departments and maintain a reference department presence electronically on all floors of the library;

• Develop a method of evaluation for reference service satisfaction, and use the existing data that has been collected on this;

• Do a study of space allocation, to ensure that all available space is being used adequately, and rearrange as necessary for optimal usage and staff collaboration.

The recommendations are further explained and justified in section 4.0 of this report. Earlier sections are devoted to background information and methodology.


© 2007 School of Library and Information Science, University of South Carolina