Meghan Lyon and Noah Huffman 2016-03-14 15:52:47
Communication is a tricky thing even when staff are under the same roof. So how can staff maintain effective communication when split across multiple locations? This was the challenge faced by Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library when the Technical Services department (RLTS) moved to an offsite processing facility about a mile from campus while reference and curatorial staff remained onsite near the reading room, collection stacks, and library classrooms. Before the move in 2008, problems had been solved informally, through a hallway conversation or a quick run to the stacks. After the move, onsite staff didn’t know who to contact in Technical Services when they had basic questions, found a typo in a catalog record or finding aid, or needed help with a collection. We needed a centralized place for onsite staff to submit questions, document problems, report errors, and make suggestions to Technical Services staff. We also wanted to track these issues across time, respond to them collaboratively and strategically, and record our solutions for future reference. Enter the RLTS Help Desk Developed by our metadata archivist, Noah Huffman, the RLTS Help Desk is a free and easy-to-use ticketing system that allows Rubenstein Library staff to submit tickets through a customizable Google web form on the department’s internal website. The form assigns a ticket number to each submission, collects submitter contact information, the title of the collection or book at issue, a description of the problem, and the urgency of the situation. This information is saved in a corresponding Google Sheet that is shared across Technical Services, and monitored on a rotating basis by everyone in the department. Powered by a custom Google script, the Google Sheet notifies staff when tickets are submitted and also includes a customized dropdown menu that allows staff monitoring the ticket queue to assign tickets to the appropriate Technical Services responder, send status updates to ticket submitters, and push ticket info to a shared knowledgebase. When tickets are submitted, assigned, updated, or resolved, the ticket system can automatically send detailed email updates to the relevant parties. In addition, the system tracks information about how the ticket was addressed, including the length of time spent on the ticket and the category of problem (e.g., finding aid edit, information request, etc.). Tracking and Cataloging Each Problem Since implementing the RLTS Help Desk in late 2013, Technical Services has resolved 476 tickets out of the 519 tickets submitted. About half of the tickets have been catalog or finding aid edits—issues such as typos, missing call numbers, or mixed up boxes. The majority of the tickets (about 70 percent) are classified by onsite staff as low urgency. Our most frequent submitters have been staff in the library’s reference department who discover issues while working directly with patrons in the reading room or preparing for classes. We also receive questions from curators and other library staff working with the collections or searching in the catalog. In several cases, staff has submitted tickets after a patron alerts them to an issue in one of our records. Not only does the RLTS Help Desk aid in the collecting, managing, and tracking of catalog issues, but it also assists us in gathering concrete data for user-driven reprocessing requests. When staff come across or are notified of a collection that needs further attention, they can submit a ticket requesting that a collection be reprocessed. Requests for reprocessing constitute about nine percent of tickets; those tickets are then collectively reviewed by Technical Services when determining processing priorities for the upcoming year. This allows us to maintain an iterative approach to processing by deliberately revisiting collections that are actively used by patrons and classes. Develop Your Own Version of the RLTS Help Desk The RLTS Help Desk has worked well for our department to collect, track, and manage simple technical services issues. It is also relatively easy to set up, and we’ve made the Google Script freely available. If you are interested in developing your own version of the RLTS Help Desk, visit https://github.com/noahgh221/rlts-help-desk to download the script, sample submission and tracking forms, and a tutorial for installation.
Published by Society of American Archivists. View All Articles.