Local library scores high on state reference survey


April 07, 1995|By KATHY SUTPHIN

Mount Airy's reference librarians, on duty six days a week to serve as conduits of knowledge for library patrons, received high scores and praise for their question-answering abilities.

Last week, the reference team at Mount Airy Branch Library was recognized for scoring in the top 10 among 83 libraries surveyed in Maryland's 1994 Reference Survey.

The Mount Airy Branch scored 90 percent of a possible 100 percent, giving it the No. 3 ranking statewide, said Rivkah Sass, chief of the Public Libraries and State Networking Branch. "It's very impressive," she said.

Carroll County Public Library ranked ninth among the 24 systems in Maryland, Ms. Sass said.

Mount Airy Branch and the Brooklyn Park Branch of the Enoch Pratt Library System were the only metropolitan area library branches among the top 10, said Mount Airy Librarian Greg Becker.

The survey, conducted by the Division of Library Development and Services of the Maryland Department of Education, was conducted from February to early December 1994, Mr. Becker said. The survey used "surrogate surveyors" to ask specific questions in person or on the phone that would test the Model Reference Behaviors, or MRBs, shown by adult reference staff.

"It's not a simple ranking of right or wrong answers, but the process," said Ann Wisner, information specialist for the county system.

Reference librarians are expected to "give the right amount of help." They are scored on greeting patrons in a friendly manner, asking appropriate opening questions, citing information sources and following up to check on patron satisfaction, Mr. Becker said.

Great care was taken to protect the survey's validity. Although Maryland libraries knew the general time frame of the survey, nobody knew when they would be approached.

Some of the just-released survey questions including queries on the seat belt law in Connecticut, the generic name of the drug Amoxil, and the source of a mixed-up quotation that required the librarian to give the correct quotation for a correct answer.

"It encourages libraries to adopt certain behaviors to ensure that they know they are giving good service," Ms. Sass said. "It validates that libraries are giving good customer service."

The survey, which has been done four times, appears to be working.

"The lowest score achieved in the 1994 survey was higher than the highest score in the 1983 survey, which was the first time it was done," Mr. Becker said.

The Mount Airy Branch celebrated its second year as a full-service library in January. Mr. Becker credited his reference team's friendliness, commitment to service and thorough training Mount Airy's survey success.

"They [library employees] have also done peer coaching, where they check each other to see if they are following the MRBs," he said.

Linda Shane, Rebecca Hart, Eileen Bloss, James Cooke, Barbara Gibney and various substitutes work with Mr. Becker at Mount Airy's reference desk.

Mr. Becker works the least time in reference because of other duties, but he remembers one of his more challenging patron questions: What's the chemical formula for a vitamin?

Mrs. Shane, a library associate and Mount Airy resident, said she enjoys working at the reference desk because of the questions. "It's like a game."

"The point isn't to know all the answers but to be able to find them," Mr. Becker added.


Mount Airy lost a friend March 24 when Mark Tannenholtz, 38, died of a cardiac arrest.

Mr. Tannenholtz was a photographer who captured the spirit and beauty of the Mount Airy community on film for the five years he worked for the Mount Airy Courier Gazette.

He and I worked together many times through the years. With his floppy hat, multipocketed khaki vest, and bandoleers of camera equipment, Mark was a familiar face at local events. He took seriously his role of recording the moments around town we will one day view as history.

Known as "Mr. Mark" to hundreds of area children, he enjoyed being a friend and a photographer of Mount Airy's students. With his soft voice and gentle manner, he had the ability to put his subjects at ease while he worked at getting that perfect shot.

He moved to Pennsylvania about a year ago with his wife, Peggy, and their two young sons. He was in the hospital at the time of his death recovering from surgery. His death at such a young age is a tragedy and a loss.

In tribute to his appreciation for the beauty in life, Mount Airy Lions Club will make a memorial contribution to the Lions Vision Research Foundation at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

The local Lions invite any of Mark Tannenholtz's many friends who would like to make a similar tribute to his memory to send a contribution in his name to: Multiple District 22, Lions Research Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 1714, Baltimore 21203-1714. For information, call (301) 829-LION.


Saturday will be a day for horseback riding enthusiasts to roll up their sleeves and help preserve Gillis Falls Equestrian Trails.

The Carroll County Equestrian Council is sponsoring the Trail Work Day, which is being held at Gillis Falls Reservoir Area, Grimville Road, Mount Airy.

The recreational area, now open seven days a week, is one of three areas the council has created in Carroll, in cooperation with the county Department of Recreation and Parks and Bureau of Land Management and Maintenance.

To volunteer, contact Janet Breeding at (410) 795-4262 or Carolyn Garber (410) 875-9529. A brochure with maps of the county's equestrian trail systems may be requested by calling 1-800-272-1933.


Carroll County's Board of Education will hold its monthly meeting Wednesday at Mount Airy Elementary School.

The meeting begins at 4 p.m. and will resume at 7 p.m. after a dinner break. Residents are encouraged to attend. Opportunities for resident participation will be available during both segments of the meeting.

For agenda information, call the Office of Public Information at (410) 875-3383.

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