Transitioning statistics help desk service from in-person to remote: Exploration of risks and opportunities
Objective: Examine initiative to transform student staffed, in-person statistical help desk service from physical to remote service. Setting/Resources: Miami University Libraries have offered a student staffed statistics help desk housed within a branch library. Student staff were recommended by the Math and Statistics department and hired by the Libraries. In Spring 2020, the decision was made to close the branch library and all services and staff integrated into the main campus library. As this decision was being finalized, the University transitioned to remote learning due to the pandemic, forcing a re-examination of physical service offerings. Description: Miami Libraries historically offered in-person, student staffed statistical help. This paper includes a discussion and evaluation of the service from the perspectives of a University Library Administrator and Librarian coordinating the services. A description and plan for the implementation of the in-person to remote service transition was included, to be actualized Fall 2020. The statistics help desk service goals remain unchanged. The first was to help students understand and use statistical theorems and software. The second was to provide student employees with valuable hands-on experience. Conclusion: The current crisis presents risks and opportunities for libraries to step back and evaluate their service offerings in light of their institutional mission and values. In Miami’s case, a key value is a focus on undergraduate teaching and learning regardless of instructional format. When students went remote, we had an opportunity to do the same to continue serving those students.
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