Assessing User Interactions at the Desk Nearest the Front Door

Pixey Anne Mosley


Some library users come in the door knowing exactly where to go, with clearly defined and communicated needs. However, many more enter the library on an exploratory mission and often stop at the first service desk that catches their eye. In many libraries, this point of first contact is a security or general information desk, not a full-service reference desk. This opens the question, are users being served effectively and their expectations being met? During the first several weeks of the fall 2003 semester, staff at the service desk closest to the front door of a large academic library recorded the specific questions asked by library patrons and their responses. This data was subjected to qualitative analysis techniques and revealed some trends in what current students are seeking when they initially come into the library. The results are useful for managers to consider in establishing appropriate staffing models (such as who should work at this desk), developing relevant training, and planning service desk and collection spatial configurations. This article presents the results from this study and explores possible factors that managers should take into consideration.

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