I have a problem remembering to keep track of my reference transactions on the little clipboard we keep at the reference desk. My office is three floors above where the reference desk is and, more often than not, I am answering reference questions from my desk (or even from home). By the time I get to the reference desk, the thought of recording these transactions has slipped my mind. Just yesterday, I suggested keeping reference stats on the Web or on the network, but my colleagues weren’t too keen on the idea.

So it was serendipitous that I saw this post from Scott Pfitzinger at BiblioTech Web, which describes the solution he implemented at the Butler University Library:

I used MS Excel and made a front page with buttons, each button assigned to a macro that took a timestamp and added 1 to the column for the appropriate type of transaction. I’m pleased to say that it’s working well, everyone has gotten used to it, and it makes reporting a SNAP! If you have it generating totals or averages for you, you can set up automatic charts and tables. That works great in Excel! Or if you need data from a particular week, you can just highlight the data and look at the “Sum” function that displays in the bottom right of your screen to get your count.

The whole “makes reporting a SNAP” idea might just convince my supervisor to computerize our reference stats. At our library, we have a shared folder on the network, so that would be the perfect place for such an Excel file.

I haven’t worked in too many libraries, so I have no idea how other libraries are doing their reference stats. How many of you use the old clipboard/paper/pencil method? How many of you use Excel or some sort of web-based solution? And what specifically do you keep track of? I’d love to hear how other people record reference transactions at their libraries.