If you walk by the south entrance of Green Library between 1-3 pm, Monday through Friday, you may notice a new and exciting service offered by the Information Center. An extension of "roaming reference," we call it "Fountains of Information." Our ultimate goal is to continue making our reference and "Ask Us" services available to as many patrons as possible while using multiple contact options.
It has been said that Stanford campus is among the most beautiful anywhere in the world. And with perpetually pleasant weather it seemed logical to extend our reference services to an outdoor setting. A preliminary literature review failed to reveal any information about other academic libraries offering reference services in an outdoor setting such as this. So, this appears to be a novel program idea.
This Fountains of Information service is a pilot roaming reference service that began during the spring quarter. The roaming reference librarian will be outside of Green Library, Monday through Friday (weather permitting), in the vicinity of the red fountain, equipped with a laptop or iPad to answer questions. There is a large poster on a rolling board announcing who we are, and the poster includes a photo of the librarians who are participating in this pilot. The pilot hours will be in the afternoons from 1-3 pm to take advantage of the lunchtime crowds.
In the first couple of weeks of this pilot program, patrons have commented that this is a great idea. Here are some reasons why people are favorable to this concept:
- No need to swipe ID cards or complete the visitor registration to speak with a librarian in person, particularly if it's a quick question.
- No need to have bags checked when exiting, upon the completion of the reference interaction.
- Simple convenience. Some folks who weren't even going into the library, spotted the librarian and asked a question.
The new user-focused reference service can be summarized in one phrase: "That's so Stanford!"