Space and place: a study of a specialized service desk

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Bankston, Sarah
German, Elizabeth
Hebert, Shelby
Laddusaw, Sierra
Watts, John
Weare, William H., Jr.

Bankston, S., German, E., Hebert, S., Laddusaw, S., Watts, J. and Weare, W.H. (2022), "Space and place: a study of a specialized service desk", Reference Services Review, Vol. 50 No. 2, pp. 190-210.


Purpose: This study examines the activities of a specialized service desk and provides guidance on conducting an analysis of the activities. The authors wanted to know what is essential in terms of expertise, staffing, technology, collections and space at a Maps and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Service desk. The purpose of the study was to explore whether the provision of these services require a staffed service desk. Design/methodology/approach: The authors collected data using mixed methods, including observing space use, administering a survey and analyzing desk interactions. Findings: Findings suggest that while this service desk may have relatively little traffic, the interactions are time consuming and require a high degree of subject expertise. The data indicated that this service does not need to be delivered in this specific location; however, retaining the expertise and access to collections is vital. The authors recommend that formal assessment of services and space should be conducted prior to making significant changes in a service model. Originality/value: This study investigates a specialized service desk which are not well-represented in the literature. Additionally, the variety of approaches used in this study could serve as a model for others for service desk assessment in general.

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