ACRL Student Retention Discussion Group1

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Charge: To discuss methods, best practices, and assessment for developing case-by-case and programmatic efforts related to student retention.
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Free Online Presentation: Model Reference Behavior

  • 1.  Free Online Presentation: Model Reference Behavior

    Posted Mar 20, 2023 06:15 PM

    FREE Online Presentation: Model Reference Behavior

    Presented by Rebecca Eve Graff, Jalesia Horton, Melissa Johnson, Jonathan McMichael, Sarah Jenkins
    Wednesday, March 29th at 3pm CT
    Register here
    Sponsored by the ACRL ULS Professional Development Committee

    Everyone wants to provide exceptional chat reference services, and SMU Libraries has exceeded expectations. Since it's the initial touch point for library services, we provide exemplary interactions by employing a distributed model for our Ask Us service, meaning library staff across our Libraries work together to respond to queries. Our model includes a team overseeing the program and evaluating chat transcriptions monthly. Using a form we developed, we assess communication style, relationship building, the reference interview, and instruction. We emphasize instruction, including teachable moments, because the mission of academic libraries is to improve the information literacy skills of our constituents, and thus, aligns with our strategic plan. Our sampling method includes reviewing one chat per shift for the busiest chat week of the prior month. As part of the evaluation, we close the loop by following up using such actions as developing training, creating a new FAQ, or sharing an announcement with our library-wide Teams channel. Our assessment form is based upon RUSA Behavioral Guidelines, published best practices, and our own experiences and institutional needs. In its present form, our form is selective, not comprehensive. We primarily look for ways to improve our service, address training needs, and share kudos to celebrate excellence. Our Ask Us chat service is highly rated with a 3.94/4 average with a response rate of 25%. We have honed our services and want to showcase our unique way of approaching reference improvement that can be adapted across academic libraries.


    Rebecca Eve Graff

    Research Librarian and Co-Coordinator of the Intern Program, SMU Libraries, Dallas, Texas. I am interested in: reference work, including chat and video reference; the assessment and evaluation of library services, especially qualitative evaluation; and determining standards for academic library practice. Recently, I served as the Vice-Chair/Chair/Past-Chair of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), Reference Services Section, 2019-2022; Chair of the RUSA Definition of Reference Review & Revision Task Force, 2019-2021; and Chair of the RUSA Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers Review & Revision (Behavioral Guidelines) Task Force, 2021-2023.

    Jalesia Horton

    Jalesia Horton is the Director of Access and Resource Sharing Services at Southern Methodist University. She received her MLIS in May 2017 and her Master's in Public Administration in 2022. Her work focuses on increasing access to academic libraries through innovative and updated services, user design, and increased accessibility options for those with disabilities. She is the current chair of the RUSA STARS Outreach and Promotion Committee and represents RUSA STARS on the Awards Coordinating Committee, Access to Resources Discussion Group, and Professional Resources Committee. 

    Melissa Johnson

    Currently an Instructional Design Librarian at the Business Library, part of SMU Libraries, located in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, Melissa holds a MS in Library Science and a MS in Learning Technologies. Her professional interests are instructional design and emerging technologies and her tagline, "Nerd by nature; Librarian by choice" helps sum up her personality.

    Jonathan McMichael

    Jonathan McMichael is SMU's Undergraduate Success Librarian and Co-Coordinator of SMU Libraries' Internship Program. He received his MLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has over a decade of experience as a research and instruction librarian at universities across the country. Throughout his career he has utilized learning theory, evidence-based public service practices, and emerging technologies to design innovative patron and equity-centered support services and learning experiences.

    Sarah Jenkins

    Sarah Jenkins is the Content Strategy Librarian at SMU Libraries. Sarah has worked in academic libraries in public and web services roles for 15 years. Her interests include web accessibility, usability, and social norms in online communication.

    This free presentation is sponsored by the ACRL University Libraries Section Professional Development Committee. It will take place on Wednesday March 29th at 3pm CT via Zoom. Register here: 

    If you can't make this session but wish to view a recording later, please register so that you'll receive an email that includes a link to the video of the presentation.

    Please direct questions and concerns to Andrea Wright (, or Samantha Harlow (, chairs of the ACRL ULS Professional Development Committee. A full list of the committee's past and future programs are available here

    Alicia Vaandering (pronouns: she/her)
    Assistant Professor, Student Success Librarian
    University of Rhode Island
    Carothers Library, Office #125

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