Don’t Shelve the Questions

Luke Vilelle, Christopher C. Peters


Many library customers’ questions never reach designated service points such as circulation and reference desks. These questions may be addressed to personnel untrained in customer service such as student shelving staff in an academic library. This article presents data from a 2005 study investigating where and when shelvers received questions (and what types of questions they received) in Newman Library at Virginia Tech. Results showed that these students primarily received directional and item-location questions. Follow-up workshops helped shelvers improve their ability to accurately refer questions when needed, and to increase their accompaniment rate when answering customers’ queries.

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