Creating a Faculty Request Form

My job title has two parts: Outreach Librarian and Faculty Services Librarian.  While both parts of this job have separate and distinct duties, they do share the common goal of making the library and its services as accessible as possible to patrons.

Law faculty as patrons are…interesting.  Their research requests are often much more intricate because they are pretty well versed in research basics, although since many of them did their legal training pre-WEXIS, they may not be aware of all of the new research possibilities technology has to offer.  Also, it’s not that I don’t always give it my all and try to answer all patrons requests quickly and efficiently and correctly, but I REALLY don’t want to mess up any part of a faculty research request.  I think I must have some lingering nervousness from my law school days…but it may also be because they’re also colleagues that you have more of a long-term relationship with than any other type of patron.

All of the above is just preamble to the main point of this post: I wanted an easy web form so that faculty could easily request library services (of any type) and allow for me to track said requests.  Oh, and the back end had to be really easy to use too because I don’t have hard core technological skills and my IT department is already swamped.

There’s a couple commercial and open source products available to do this, but I decided to use the free, web based Google docs spreadsheet function.  I had some experience with the form creation through my work on the AALL National Inventory of Legal Material and am impressed with how much you can manipulate the questions and pages, which then fill out a spreadsheet.   You can create the form by either creating a spreadsheet and having the column headings automatically populate the form (which can then be edited for clarity) or by creating the form first and then have the spreadsheet made from that.

A copy of the form is here.  That’s not the version that my faculty use, so feel free to mess around, input answers. Then you can see how the form answers end up on a spreadsheet here .  This bring me to another benefit of this system…I can easily share the spreadsheet with my fellow librarians (and give them editing privileges so that they can add in request tracking notes.)   Plus, the form acts as a marketing tool since it lists all of the possibilites of library services, some of which Professor X may not have been aware of.

In all honesty, it hasn’t been used yet by any faculty member, but it’s still new and requests are down over all because of fall semester rush.   It only took me an hour or so to set up, so at the very worst I just have another avenue for faculty to request services and at the very best, they go to the form and see what possibilities of library services are available and use us more.

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  4 comments for “Creating a Faculty Request Form

  1. October 11, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    When you mentioned the form acting “as a marketing tool,” I wondered if you had ever seen this a la carte instruction menu? Librarians from another college wrote up their experiences with an a la carte instruction menu in the Feb. 2006 issue of College & Research Libraries News.

  2. Sarah
    October 11, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Oh, I hadn’t actually. Thanks!

  3. Mikhail Koulikov
    October 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Are you planning on integrating this into the library webpage, or just giving the link out to your users? I’m a fan of commercial products over open-source, and use Altarama Reftracker precisely because it looks a little more, well, Corporate, and allows for branding. Our service isn’t open to users just yet, but you can see how I’m setting up the actual forms at http://nyli.altarama.com.

  4. Sarah
    October 13, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    I haven’t embedded the form, but I link to it on the faculty resources page, as well as sent it out in an email.

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