More Students Turned to the UTSA Libraries in Spring 2013

May 16, 2013

By Stephanie Sanchez, Communications Specialist

More students turned to The University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries for help with research, writing projects and other class assignments this semester than in recent years.

There was at least a 30 percent increase in assignment-related questions in January and February 2013 compared to the same time last year — a dramatic change from the downward trend academic libraries have generally seen in recent years. The rise is attributed to several strategic approaches, including giving public area staff the nickname Blue Crew, offering better customer service training and having student research experts rove library spaces.

“The progress we’ve made is very exciting. It means we are helping more students,” said Jan Kemp, assistant dean for public services for the UTSA Libraries. “With more than 10,000 students using the Libraries each day during busy times of the semester, we felt sure that many of our students had reference questions and needed our assistance, but perhaps they just didn’t realize we offered the service they needed or didn’t know how to ask.”

To raise awareness of assignment-related services, staff members in public areas began wearing coordinated blue polo shirts, button-up shirts and sweaters with the UTSA Libraries logo. Their slogan: “Ask Us Anything!”

Kemp said having staff wear coordinated clothing gave students a visual cue, making easier to differentiate who they could approach for help. Staff also were given a customer-service training called “Service with a Smile.”

The Blue Crew was emphasized in posters, business cards, social media outlets and events with giveaways such as buttons — very popular among our students. During the semester the Libraries hosted a “We Heart Your Questions” event in which students wrote funny, random questions on hundreds of blue Post-Its.

Students also had the advantage of asking their own peers for help.

The library peer coaches – a group of five student workers trained to help other students with library-related inquires – roam library spaces, making themselves readily available to answer questions.

“We get a lot of questions about finding books and looking for databases,” Luis Jasso, an architecture student and peer coach, said of roving library spaces. “We just want to make ourselves visible, so students know we’re a reliable source for help.”