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2012-2013 Annual Report: Oklahoma City University School of Law Library: Reference Services

Professional Development and Service

Lee Peoples and Katie Brown completed 265 hours of online, local and national professional development in the last year. 

Jennifer Prilliman and Timothy Gatton completed 388.25 hours of online, local and national professional development in the last year.

Reference Location

Reference librarians are called upon to answer questions everywhere from their office to the grocery store! One librarian even ran into a student at the airport and answered several legal research questions while waiting for their flight. Members of the reference department answered 1,720 questions this year. 



Types of Questions Asked

The Law Library recorded 4,266 of the questions asked by library patrons this year. Questions range from simple directional questions to complex research questions requiring 40+ hours of work. Questions are answered by both reference and access services librarians and staff.

The chart below reflects and compares some of the types of questions asked over the last three academic years. Question tracking methods changed November 2010 with the implementation of Gimlet and data prior to that date is not available. Instruction and law review related questions were not specifically tracked during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Categories of questions not in this data set are those related to electronic services, course reserves, citation assistance, and other requests.

Research and Instruction Questions

The reference department's primary focus is providing instruction and research assistance to faculty and students. The reference department also serves members of the community and the local bar. Many community members rely on the Law Library's print and electronic resources for important legal information.

Reference services were available 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday -Friday and from Noon to 9:00 p.m. on Sundays totaling 61.5 hours of reference service per week. Reference hours were reduced during holidays, breaks, and the summer. Reference hours were reduced during the 2012-2013 academic year to compensate for the unfilled reference position. Reference and instruction statistics were carefully reviewed to identify the best times to maintain reference hours. Peak reference hours are between 2p.m. and 5p.m.

The reference department answered a total of 1,314 instruction and research related questions this year. Questions varied from basic research questions to semester long projects involving the work of both a reference librarian and a reference assistant. Additionally, reference librarians taught 176 trainings or class sessions. Read more about the classes and trainings taught by reference librarians on the Law Librarians as Instructors page.

Faculty Reference

The Law Library is proud of the relationship we have built with the faculty over the years. Librarians aim to provide a high standard of service in support of faculty scholarship and instruction. Specific reference services offered to the faculty include research assistance, resource instruction, providing topical legal research training to students during a faculty member's class, and training faculty research assistants. Approximately 240 hours were spent at the reference desk embedded outside of the faculty's offices and Faculty Support Services Suite. Additionally reference librarians spent over 800 hours assisting faculty with research and class presentations. This does not include time spent working on the faculty citation study, maintaining Selected Works pages, and other routine faculty services. Learn more about our faculty services and review some comments from our faculty.

Long Term Faculty Research Projects

During the past year the Reference Department worked on 10 long term faculty projects. These projects ranged in time spent from forty to over eighty hours per project, meaning 400-800 hours were spent on these long term projects. To accomplish these projects the reference librarians often worked closely with a reference assistant.

Projects included tracking pleadings and cases in a particular suit, locating all case law in specific subject areas, tracking federal judicial decisions by judge, and tracking down agency actions and decisions on specific topics.

Reference Department Projects

During the spring of 2013 the Reference Department clarified and streamlined many of its internal procedures including:

  • Creating more detailed tagging guidelines and standards to use in Gimlet. This will allow us to keep better statistics going into 2013-2014. To complete this project a reference assistant carefully reviewed all of the tags previously used in Gimlet and made recommendations for which to keep or to consolidate into a single tag. The document was then reviewed by all of the public service librarians and changes were suggested. Finally the Head of Reference Services reviewed the document and added final changes before implementing it July 1, 2013.
  • Revising the Faculty Citation Study and putting it into a more readable format. Read more about the process of creating the Faculty Citation Study.
  • Updating the guidelines for practice exam submissions and working with Access Services to improve and clean up old practice exam files.
  • Updating and clarifying the Document Delivery policy for law firms and attorneys. This clarification will help to eliminate some of the confusion over what requests should be treated as an interlibrary loan requests and which should be handled as a document delivery request.

Streamlining and clarifying these procedures will allow the library to be even more efficient going forward. 

Continuing Reference Projects

Procedural Manual
The Head of Reference Services is preparing a detailed manual of the tasks and procedures of the reference department. 

The Reference, Administration, and Access Services departments have already begun planning LAB-rary 2014.

Social Media
Jennifer Prilliman and Timothy Gatton are regular contributors to the library's Twitter account, Pinterest account, and blog. Reference assistants also contribute to the blog from time to time providing their perspective on legal research and law school. Read more about the library's social media presence here.

Timothy Gatton continues to oversee the Law Library Newsletter. It is published 2 to 3 times a semester.

Collection Development and Maintenance
The reference librarians continue to actively review materials for addition to the collection. Resources already owned by the library are also periodically reviewed to insure they continue to meet the needs of our patrons.

Reference librarians continue to provide legal research trainings and instruction.

Read more about upcoming projects on the 2013-2014 page.


Research Guides/ LibGuides

Reference librarians are responsible for the creation and updating of the topical research guides. Many guides are prepared by our law student reference assistants under the supervision of a reference librarian. The guides are promoted in classes, at the circulation and reference desks, and through social media. The Reference Department also maintains several patron user guides including the database guide, legal treatises by subject, 1L survival guide, and reference portions of the patron user guides.

This past year the Reference Department added 24 research guides to the system. Our guides are receiving praise across the country and have been reused by a number of libraries.  



Google Visualization API Sample

Top Ten LibGuides by Usage

LibGuide  2012-2013 Views
Fact-Finding on the Internet   1816
Nuclear Medicine: Introduction to U.S. & International Regulations and Clinical Practice Resources 1479
Federal Legaslative History 1208
Administrative Law    1175
Reporters 1098
Practice Resources    1080
LAB-rary 2013: Civility, A Discussion in Honor of Professor J. William Conger 802
Child Soldiers in Africa  772
International Divorce: A Conflicts of Law Problem   712
Bluebook Rules     598

Reference Assistant Training

New Law Library reference assistants (RAs) go through a two to three week formal training process that takes at least 20 hours to complete. All RAs continue to receive training and guidance throughout the course of the year. New reference assistants receive an in depth tour of the library, spend four to five hours on formal database training, complete practice exercises, and are assigned relevant CALI lessons to complete. They are also trained on the mechanics of working the circulation desk and spend a few hours with the Technical Services Department.

RAs are vital to the ongoing development and maintenance of the topical research LibGuides. They spend 1 hour receiving formal LibGuide training, but are assisted throughout the semester on their LibGuide projects. 

RAs are strongly encouraged to attend any library or vendor trainings that are offered during their shift throughout the semester.

Reference Assistant Projects

 law student reference assistants were employed this past year. The reference assistants answered 96 questions and assisted on numerous faculty and library projects under the direct supervision of a reference librarian. This year's assistants completed 4 fifty-state survey projects, authored 18 new LibGuides and helped with the maintenance of all of the LibGuides. They completed legal research projects such as reading through 19th century newspapers on microfilm looking for mentions of specific cases, searching for agency decisions, assisting with literature reviews, and compiling legislative histories. They spent almost three weeks assisting with the faculty citation study. Reference assistants who are interested in law librarianship as a career are assigned library oriented projects such as evaluating specific collections in the library and archiving projects.

Reference assistants also help librarians with committee related projects and many volunteered to appear in the 2013 Ask-A-Lawyer show produced by the Oklahoma Bar Association and OETA.

Reference Assistant Testimonials

"In order to make persuasive legal arguments, a lawyer must be able to find relevant legal authority. Thus, a lawyer must be proficient in the legal research process. Working as a reference assistant will improve the student’s legal research skills and help him secure a job as research and writing is the primary task for summer interns and new associates. A reference assistant has opportunities to work on various projects. Some are legal research projects for professors in which the reference assistant explores variety of resources (other than Westlaw Next!!) to find relevant authority on many areas of law. Other projects are not legal research projects, but nonetheless lead the reference assistant to become more familiar with legal resources. Adam Carey, a recent OCU Law graduate who worked as a reference assistant for two years after completing his first summer intern job, posted blog entries on Gavel describing importance of LRW skills in legal workplace. (See I highly recommend that students consider becoming a reference assistant." - Youngwoo Ban

"Becoming a Reference Assistant (RA) in the law library was one of the best decisions I made during law school.  I received many benefits as an RA including both tangible and intangible.  First, the most significant benefit was the ability to refine my research skills that were only touched upon during the 1L year by the extra research training provided by the library which helped the 1Ls in their LRW research.  Additionally, these skills were further refined by helping local attorneys, Pro Se patrons and OCU and non-OCU students with research that challenged me with their diverse topics and helping them find the appropriate area to search.  Another benefit gained was the familiarization with the library, all of it electronic sources and library staff.  Specifically, as a RA you are able to work with the librarians closely and learn new research techniques and sources from them.  The smart lawyer is not the one who knows everything but the one who knows where to look and whom to ask.  This also applies to law students as well.   Both of these benefits assisted me greatly with my seminar paper last semester where I had to find Colorado territorial proclamation going back 1868.  Because of the experience, I was able to accomplish this rather quickly and efficiently.  The greatest benefit was the ability to meet local lawyers, faculty, staff, and different law students from the ones that are in your section and help them with questions or issues they may have.  Finally, these skills benefited me as an intern this summer where I was given 1 hour to research and write a note on the “rule of perpetuities” with respect to IP.  Because of my training and experiences as an RA, the research was very easy and rewarding.  Not stumbling on your first research assignment builds immediate confidence in you and in the firm.  I cannot totally convey all the benefits of being an RA but I illustrated just a few above but there are many more. " - Kerry Green


 "I have truly enjoyed my experience as a reference assistant.  I originally accepted the position because I thought it would allow me to learn more about research.  My experience has surpassed my expectations and I feel that I have a leg up in the world of legal research. One of the things I was surprised to find so fulfilling was helping students and public patrons with their legal research needs.  Additionally, working as a reference assistant has given me the opportunity to work closely with Professors in a capacity that I would not likely have been able to prior.  The projects for Professors are all very different and each project provides the assistant with a different insight into a different area of law.  I must not forget to mention that I do enjoy convenience of working in the law library steps away from my classes. Lastly, the library staff has been very welcoming and accommodating to my schedule." - Shannon Payne


800 N. Harvey Oklahoma City, OK 73102 405.208.5271