A recent international research collaboration

CIRI Blog

Published: September 30, 2015 by Dr. Lili Luo

International collaboration is always a refreshing and even enlightening experience to me. I have worked with two librarians from Tsinghua University Library in China on a couple of projects and absolutely enjoyed it. I have known them for more than 10 years so we have a very efficient and pleasant relationship. Last year when I was at IFLA, I met a librarian from Ghana and we had good conversations about library research. This spring we worked on a project together to evaluate the reference services at University of Education, Winneba (UEW) in Ghana. We decided to approach the evaluation from the user perspective, and identified the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) based on the RUSA Guidelines for Behavioral Performance. A user survey was conducted to measure the KPIs and to examine how users use and perceive library reference services. The findings were illuminating. For example, regarding how the reference service should be improved, some users recommended that librarians be better trained. It’s interesting that these users realized that the service inadequacies were a result of insufficient personnel training. It is also interesting to note that personal interests is the second most popular motivation for users to use the reference service, which is auspicious and shows that students and faculty trust reference librarians with their personal information needs. And yet, some of the things we take for granted such as electricity and computers/copiers, were still a concern for some library users at UEW in Ghana – they felt there weren’t enough of them to meet their needs.

Overall the study was a great learning experience for me. I’m glad that our findings will help UEW library determine the service areas where improvements are most needed and develop necessary training programs to address them. On a personal note, the study opened my eyes to how reference services work at an academic library in Ghana, and how library users are experiencing the services. It will be published in Library Review soon, so keep an eye on it if you are interested.