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Resources for SJSU Librarians

Ref. Analytics

Reference Analytics should be submitted for every reference encounter you have, including reference desk questions, email questions, one-on-one meetings with students, and chat. We'll go over how to submit chat ref. analytics on the "Chat Ref. Analytics" page.

To submit a Ref. Analytics:

Select "LibAnswers" from the blue dropdown menu on the LibApps homepage (, and select "Add Transaction" from the Ref. Analytics dropdown menu.


From here fill out the following form as it relates to your reference interaction.


  • If you are submitting your Ref. Analytics on a different day than it occurred, be sure to select "Edit Date/Time" next to "Time Stamp" and enter the correct date and time of the reference interaction.
  • If you need help to decide what READ Scale option to pick, the "i" icon next to the scale shows examples of what would qualify for each number. (A full breakdown can be found on the "READ Scale" tab.)
  • When finished, click "Submit" or "Submit & Clear" to enter another Ref. Analytics.

To create a Ref. Analytics from a chat, you can click the Ref. Analytics icon button at the top of the page (Arrow #1) at anytime during the chat.

Or, you can click the "Add to Reference Analytics" link (Arrow #2) available after a chat is closed.

The page to submit a chat Ref. Analytics will look like this:

NOTE: the "Question" section will auto-fill with the patron's first line of text. Often times it will be too long, and you will be asked to shorten it.

The Answer section will also auto-fill with the entirety of the chat. You may leave this section as is, or replace it with a short listing of how you answered their question.

To Edit a Submitted Ref. Analytics:

Select "View/Edit Transactions" from the "Ref. Analytics" drop down

From here you can either scroll to find your entry, or limit the results to only those entered by you, or to those entered in a time period.

  • To edit an entry, select the paper and pencil icon () located on the left side of the entry.
  • To delete an entry, select the trash can icon () located in the same place.

The Reference Effort Assessment Data (READ) Scale, created by Bella Karr Gerlich, is a six-point tool used for recording qualitative data related to the processes, activities, efforts, skills and knowledge used during reference interactions.

The READ Scale breakdown is:

  • Answers that require the least amount of effort
  • No specialized knowledge skills or expertise
  • No consultation of resources
  • Less than 5 minutes


  • Directional inquiries
  • Library or service hours
  • Service point locations
  • Rudimentary machine assistance
    (locating/using copiers, how to print or supplying paper)
  • Answers given which require more effort
  • Require only minimal specific knowledge skills or expertise
  • Answers may need nominal resource consultation


  • Call number inquiries
  • Item location
  • Minor machine & computer equipment assistance
  • General library or policy information
  • More complex machine assistance
    (how to save to a disk or email records, launching programs, re-booting)
  • Answers in this category require some effort and time
  • Consultation of ready reference resource materials is needed
  • Minimal instruction of the user may be required
  • Reference knowledge and skills come into play


  • Answers that require specific reference resources (encyclopedias or databases)
  • Basic instruction on searching the online catalog
  • Direction to relevant subject databases
  • Introduction to web searching for a certain item
  • How to scan and save images
  • Increasingly complex technical problems (assistance with remote use)
  • Answers or research requests require the consultation of multiple resources
  • Subject specialists may need to be consulted and more thorough instruction and assistance occurs
  • Reference knowledge and skills needed
  • Efforts can be more supportive in nature for the user, or if searching for a finite answer, difficult to find
  • Exchanges can be more instruction based as staffs teach users more in-depth research skills


  • Instructing users how to utilize complex search techniques for the online catalog, databases and the web
  • How to cross-reference resources and track related supporting materials
  • Services outside of reference become utilized (ILL, Tech services, etc), collegial consultation
  • Assisting users in focusing or broadening searches (helping to re-define or clarify a topic)
  • More substantial effort and time spend assisting with research and finding information
  • On the high end of the scale, subject specialists need to be consulted
  • Efforts are cooperative in nature, between the user and librarian and or working wiht colleagues
  • Multiple resources used
  • Research, reference knowledge and skills needed
  • Dialogue between the user and librarian may take on a "back and forth question" dimension


  • False leads
  • Interdisciplinary consultations/research
  • Question evolution
  • Expanding searches/resources beyond those locally available
  • Graduate research
  • Difficult outreach problems (access issues that need to be investigated)
  • The most effort and time expended
  • Inquiries or requests for information can't be answered on the spot
  • At this level, staff may be providing in-depth research and services for specific needs of the clients
  • This category covers some "special library" type research services
  • Primary (original documents) and secondary resource materials may be used


  • Creating bibliographies and bibliographic education
  • In-depth faculty and PhD student research
  • Relaying specific answers and supplying supporting materials for publication, exhibits etc; working with outside vendors
  • Collaboration and on-going research

Adapted from: