We're Redesigning How to Answer Thousands of E-Mails, Phone Calls and Visits

The IHRC staff's redesign of its patron services processes will be featured at the University of Minnesota's 2011 Quality Fair and Forum on Thursday, Feb. 3, at the Carlson School of Management. CIndy Herring and Sara Wakefield will present a poster session on how staff respond to thousands of e-mails, phone calls and patron visits each year.

Since spring of 2010, Herring and Wakefield have supervised undergraduate student workers at the IHRC's front desk. Current workers include Taylor Brendmoen, Sadie Dogget, Dan Grussing, Muna Mohammed, Mia Overly and Kao Choua Vue.

The work group developed new processes to identify decision points for assisting researchers on-site as well as those making queries by phone or e-mail. Students created an orientation about the IHRC collections for new visitors. The team also produced a flow chart for the IHRC's work to process its backlog of print acquisitions. The chart also provides decision points, making it possible for students to understand their role in a large and complex project.

The IHRC receives about 2,000 reference requests each year from off-site researchers, and the new process allows collections staff to respond efficiently. The new process has helped to preserve blocks of time so that collections staff can continue processing archival and print materials, assist on-site researchers, and provide specialized consultations to researchers and faculty.

The theme of the 2011 Quality Fair and Forum is "Working Together, Learning from Each Other." Registration to attend this free event is available on-line. Features include 42 poster displays, informative breakout presentations and tools sessions, a compelling keynote speaker, opportunities to network and learn from University colleagues, a snack buffet, and door prizes.