Reference Transaction Statistics

The University of Washington has begun a review of how it collects what we call “user query statistics” or reference statistics.  We currently have five sample periods a year and each service point (over forty of them) keeps paper tally sheets for those time periods.  At the end of each sample period those tally sheets get entered into spreadsheets.  As you can probably imagine, it’s a long tedious process to enter the data and ripe with opportunity for inaccuracies.

We are looking for ways we can improve this process, not just in the method of collecting the data, but also in how we define our transactions (they’re presently grouped into four question types), identifying how the data can/is/should be used/presented/archived.  Is there a good way to do this electronically so we can easily incorporate our virtual reference statistics?

We’d love to hear from anyone else that has gone through such a review or is considering these same questions.  Please respond in the comment field or feel free to email me directly if you prefer: swright at u dot washington dot edu.

5 Responses to Reference Transaction Statistics

  1. Stacey Kimmel-Smith February 21, 2008 at 5:33 pm #


    At Lehigh University we have a combined computing and library service desk. We use a product called Numara Footprints to track and report on our desk questions. For each question, we record a category and subcategory of question type. We use our campus directory to capture user type (if we ask for their userid) and the system records the location. We have statistics on user role (ug, grad, fac, staff), question type (category/subcat), time to close ticket, etc. The system also lets us track referrals and record time to closure. The system is entirely web based and requires no client. The interface is flexible. I’d be happy to share more information with you if you’re interested.

  2. Danielle Theiss-Whit February 25, 2008 at 3:02 pm #

    At K-State Libraries we are using Libstats ( with great results. I would encourage you to check it out. It’s open source and does allow you to customize the fields at the top depending on you library’s needs. The report functions are also great and you can search by data, question type or format, time of day, etc. Please contact me if you’d like any more information.

  3. Stephanie Wright March 6, 2008 at 5:43 pm #

    Thank you, Stacey! Though I haven’t responded to you before now, our group has been looking at the product you mentioned. I’ll be sure to contact you when we have some specific questions.

  4. Robert Ferguson April 24, 2008 at 4:03 pm #

    At Washington St. University we are presently using a variety of spreadsheets, but we are looking at a couple of products to take their place: Desk Tracker by Compendium, and RefTracker by Altarama. We’re also looking at Survey Monkey as a potential tool for this. We’ll certainly take a look at the other products mentioned here too–thanks!

  5. Stephanie Wright April 28, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    Thank you Danielle and Robert. We’ve taken a look at all those mentioned here and have narrowed it down to two. Thanks so much to everyone for their suggestions!

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