Holistic 360 Reference Services

Revitalizing and Engaging Students through in-person Reference, a [Institution] Library Case Study


  • Lisa Rand Penn State Brandywine
  • John D Shank




Academic Libraries, Reference Services, Pandemic Response, Emerging Technologies, Higher Education, Public Services, Holistic Reference Services


This study focuses on how academic libraries face ongoing challenges in adapting to emerging technologies and external events like the COVID-19 pandemic. It explores a sampling of the literature on the decline in reference transactions and the growing reliance on technology-mediated reference services. It presents Penn State Berks Thun Library’s approach to remediate and reverse this decline. The library aimed to enhance student access to reference services and increase librarian visibility by piloting in 2022-23 a mobile ASK desk. Data analysis from the pilot program indicates an increase in reference queries compared to previous years reversing the multiyear downward trend, suggesting the effectiveness of the ASK desk in meeting student needs. The article introduces the Holistic 360 Reference Services Model (H360 Ref), which provides a framework for delivering comprehensive reference services. Overall, it asserts that enhancing reference services can contribute to increased student engagement, solidifying the essential role of libraries in supporting learning and research endeavors.


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