Oregon Reference Summit Session Descriptions


And Now for Something Completely Different: A Revolutionary Alternative to the Reference Desk

Does a revolutionary alternative to the traditional reference desk actually exist? At Western Washington University Libraries, the reference desk has become the Research & Writing Studio, a place where the integration of academic literacies, writing center pedagogy, and social justice inform library practice. In this session, three teaching and learning librarians will share how the peer-centered, strengths-based, and inquiry-driven approach to library service and instruction contributes to student success. Attendees will walk away with a new perspective on reference services, new ideas for collaborating with students and colleagues, and new strategies for creating spaces for student agency in the research and writing process.

Abby Koehler, Jessica Mlotkowski and Jennifer Foster, Western Washington University

Conquering the Headlights (Stop being a deer when it comes to legal reference questions)

Have you ever received a legal reference question? Did you have a deer in the headlights moment? Did you turn to Google and hope that you would be able to find the right form? Want to know how you can help patrons with legal reference questions better in the future? Learn some of the basics of legal reference from a (former public now) law librarian that you can use in your public library.

Amy Gregory, Washington County Law Library

Reference Work Changes Lives – Capturing Your Impact

Libraries often gather data about reference interactions and traditionally categorize these transactions by question type, time spent answering the question, and time of day. Unfortunately, these traditional measures do little to connect to the learning aspect that may occur during these reference encounters. In 2016, the University of Idaho Library piloted a redesigned reference question intake form to more easily map reference transactions to national learning goals including problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking. This new form highlighted activities that supported student learning that often were not captured during the reference transaction. In 2018, Washington State University Libraries piloted a similar redesigned form that provided richer data to map to the university learning outcomes and both the libraries’ and university strategic plans. Redesigning your reference in-take form can assist with translating your work into a narrative that aligns with your city, school, or institution’s strategic goals. This presentation will discuss both UI and WSU’s experiences with using their new reference form, and will provide time for attendees to begin brainstorming their own redesigned forms. Attendees will be asked to bring a copy of learning outcomes, a strategic plan, or another planning document from their institution. These improved assessments will allow libraries to better articulate their contribution to desired learning outcomes in the communities they serve, and convey the value reference services have in supporting and enhancing learning with their patrons.

Erin Hvizdak, Washington State University

Rick Stoddart, Lane Community College


The Art of the Referral: Strategies for Connecting People to the Information They Need

One of the lessons most reference librarians learn early is that they can’t answer every question that comes their way. Referrals are a common practice in reference service, but how do we make the right choices to help assure our patrons are getting the information they need?  This program will explore the referral service, 211info, which uses resource specialists to connect residents to local community services. Come to learn about 211info’s services and take away some strategies for sharpening your own referral skills!

Arlene Weible, State Library of Oregon

Ciara Doyle, 211info

Purchasing and Promoting Diversity-Related Materials

Presentation will share McMinnville Public Library success purchasing and promoting more diversity genre fiction and diverse biographical non-fiction books, we will highlight what cultural diverse patrons are current looking for in terms of services and materials and also, our experience, on how to introduce diverse books to mainstream audience in order to promote cultural and inclusion awareness.

Marci Ramiro-Jenkins and Courtney Terry, McMinnville Public Library

The Reference-Inflected One-Shot

Too often, one-shot library instruction can feel predictable, prescriptive, and above all, top-down, for the librarian as much as for the students on the receiving end. The unpredictable and highly particularized nature of reference, in contrast, may feel much truer to the reality of the messy research process. This program will outline one librarian’s experiments in orienting first-year instruction around the preliminary research and questions of students in the class, discussing issues and problems as well as ideas for further work.

Erica Jensen, Lewis & Clark College


Closing the Loop on Instruction with Reference Statistics

I propose a session on “Closing the Loop on Instruction with Reference Statistics.” When I started my job as Research Services Librarian at Southern Oregon University in early 2017, I changed the way librarians recorded reference transactions in order to capture more information about encounters with students and members of the public. However, more data is just more data, and so after gathering a year’s worth of data I analyzed it with an information visualization program called Tableau. I then provided an in-service workshop with all librarians to discuss the trends we could see in the data and, even more importantly, how we could take the information gained with the analysis to change how and what we were teaching in our instruction sessions. We also brainstormed ways to use this information to improve our reference service and our computer help service for all our users. The workshop with librarians led to more information sharing and improved learner-centered instruction sessions. I also worked with librarians and staff after the session to develop ways to share statistical information more quickly and also improve the quality of the information gathered for longitudinal analysis.  I plan to share our data and demonstrate the different steps (and missteps!) of this collaborative process, suggest ways to get buy-in for the data collection, and discuss with attendees other ways to use this type of data to promote the library inside and outside instruction sessions.

Melissa Anderson, Southern Oregon University

Do You Have Any Good Books to Read? Popular Reading Collections in PNW Academic Libraries

Did you know that many academic libraries in the Pacific Northwest have popular reading collections that your patrons can borrow through Summit or ILL? This presentation will cover highlights of a survey about popular reading given to libraries in the Orbis Cascade Alliance, and it will demystify how libraries that have established (or re-established) these collections are creating, managing, promoting, and sharing them. If you work at a public reference desk, you will leave with practical takeaways for serving your patrons with these collections, such as which niche genres are collected by libraries in Summit and how you might create a popular reading collection at your own library.

Elizabeth Brookbank, Western Oregon University

Lydia Harlan, University of Oregon

Dominate Any Database in 5 Minutes or Less

This interactive presentation will provide tips and tricks for quickly and thoughtfully evaluating and using any informational database. After attending this workshop, attendees will not only have the skills to quickly and successfully get acquainted with any reference database resource, they’ll also be equipped to share their knowledge with their patrons and colleagues.

Joanna Milner, Multnomah County Library

1:45-2:40 Lightning Talks

Census 2020

• What is the Census and why do we do it?
• What Census data is used for
• What is new for 2020
• What do we ask?
• Language support
• Confidentiality of Census data
• Hard-to-count populations

Most important, I want everyone in attendance to be ready, willing, and able to help their patrons to understand the census, find answers to their questions, and encourage their participation!

John Cummings, U.S. Census Bureau

Chat Easy: Improvements to Answerland Resources for Librarians

In 2017/18, Answerland’s Quality Team decided that to help librarians across Oregon improve their chat skills, it was imperative to clarify, flesh out, and improve access to Best Practices documents. At the same time, the Answerland “For Librarians ” resources page was being revamped by the State Library of Oregon. Changes to both were rolled out as part of the “Answerland Staff Toolkit” Libguide in January 2019, including an improved Rubric for Quality Chat Reference. We will discuss improvements to Best Practices and offer a quick introduction to the Toolkit. It’s the perfect time for seasoned chat librarians to refresh their skills!

Clare Sobotka, Linn-Benton Community College

Joanna Milner, Multnomah County Library

Specific Resources – Columbia Basin Fish & Energy Info

A review of interactive resources related to the Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife Program (cbfish.org) and reliable energy information (www.eia.gov) provided by the US Department of Energy.

Bill Zimmerman, Bonneville Power Administration

3:00-3:50 Lightning Talks

Maker’s Advisory

Managing a Makerspace can be challenging, but the daunting task of reference for a Makerspace is even more so. In a collaborative, unique, and social space, Reader’s advisory becomes Makers Advisory, and general Reference Services are left at the door. I’d like to talk about how Hillsboro is re-defining “Reference” with the inclusion of a Makerspace in its general services.

Camila Harris, Hillsboro Public Library

Fast Facts to Get You Started: Helping your Genealogy Patrons

For years my colleagues tended to refer all patrons with genealogy questions to me. I decided it made sense to produce a quick “down and dirty” tip list as a starting point for the rest of the reference staff. I have my own nervousness when facing questions about a topic I don’t know a lot about. No one can be an expert at everything but anyone can follow a cheat sheet to get your patrons who are interested in genealogy off to a good start. I will share the basics through a Powerpoint to empower everyone to help their patrons. I will identify the most useful websites and databases, including social network sites and blogs, for genealogy research, as well as the standard print genealogy resources. A fast facts approach highlights the most useful starting points for our family tree searchers! This approach can be adapted for any topic.

Margaret Harmon-Myers, Eugene Public Library.

Reference by Appointment: Your Personal Librarian

Multnomah County library has been offering one-on-one reference appointments to patrons for 5 years. These appointments allow staff to provide in depth service to patrons for everything from technology assistance to small business research to job search and beyond. It is a great way to provide in-depth service in a changing reference landscape. Hear about our process and procedures, successes and lessons learned to determine if this service is right for your library.

Lori Moore, Multnomah County Library.