About Saint Mary's

Service Excellence: Library

The Library is open 95 hours per week over seven days with an experienced workforce of professional librarians, support staff and student staff who are available to meet the needs of the university community.

This is how the Library measures Service Excellence:


  1. The Library is open 95 hours per week over 7 days with an experienced workforce of professional librarians, support staff and student staff who are available to meet the needs of the university community.  The Library remains open during all posted hours unless the University is closed.  During peak periods of the academic term the hours of service are extended by an additional 8 hours per week.
    • We open and close as advertised and the hours reflect the needs and study habits of all students. Patrons can count on longer hours during exams, and the Library being open during weekend, evenings and holidays.
    • Experienced staff who are well trained; one permanent staff member plus student staff are available at service desk during business hours and as much as possible during evenings and weekends.
    • Staff is on duty, on time, during hours when the Library is open.
    • Information on website kept current and accurate; mistakes are addressed promptly.
    • Library Systems staff ensures that all library staff know how to reach them, and have several people to contact if service is needed. In-person, telephone and e-mail contact are encouraged.
    • Library systems staff follow-up with users, to ensure, not only that systems issues have been fixed, but that users know that they have been fixed.   If issues cannot be resolved immediately, users are informed of the status of any service request, and what is being done to address it.   Systems staff have backup equipment and systems, so that they can offer alternatives if a system or service is unavailable for any period of time.
    • Library systems staff communicates with Library Access Services, Reference Services, and ITSS help desks so that systems issues encountered by library patrons, on and off campus, are dealt with promptly.
    • The Document Delivery Department provides its users with clear written information about its services, service hours, and estimated time lines users should expect for service.  Some services like Novanet Express Document Delivery have clearer cut time lines than others.  Service information is provided on library webpages, and in printed materials.  Service information is provided to external organizations, like the National Library of Canada, so that external users of our services will have clear information.
  1. The Library catalogue and patron records are up-to-date and accurate which ensures ready access to materials in the collection and the use of that material by our patrons in a timely manner.  All procedures and policies are documented to ensure consistent application of cataloguing standards, quality controls, labelling, and shelving and to meet user expectations.
    • Knowledge of all policies and procedures when consulted by our service groups.
    • Stacks maintenance: books are where they should be, and systematic search strategies are employed to locate any missing material.
    • Accurate serials data in the journal resolver and accurate statuses for all monographs in Novanet (important for locating items).
  2. Library staff provides friendly, supportive assistance by using active listening and communication skills to explain, teach and respond to student, faculty and staff questions and comments.  Staff often goes above and beyond to source material not readily at hand and follows up with patron when possible and where appropriate.
    • Patrons may rely upon friendly, helpful staff.
    • The Records Centre, which is part of our University Archives, offers a reliable service and safe storage for material from across the University.
    • As the home of the University’s history (at least in written form), the Archives provides consistent and professional access to the primary source documents that make up our history.
    • We respond to student and faculty questions/complaints in a timely manner.
  1. The Library works closely with faculty to provide materials needed to support courses and areas of research through involvement in new course proposals, program reviews, and academic planning.  Working within budget constraints the library offers a variety of options to request materials and monitors the collection for condition, relevancy, areas of growth and deficiencies.
    • Filling orders for items requested as quickly as possible.
    • Getting invoices and VISA reconciliations to financial services on time.
    • Regular reporting of acquisitions budget details to Librarian and faculty liaisons.
    • Ensure materials needed to support research and studies are available.
    • Allocate acquisitions funds in accordance with Library Policy.
  2. The Library works to international standards for cataloguing and applies quality control of bibliographic records in Novanet and Dublin Core Records in the Institutional Repository.


  1. The Library effectively transfers knowledge and information between staff members and patrons to ensure awareness of current issues and pressures important to our users.  Patrons can be assured staff has experience, specialized knowledge and willingness to direct users to the appropriate source or person. We achieve this by weekly departmental meetings, ongoing training on tools and resources, shared competencies and staff development programs.
    • Instils belief that staff has the knowledge and experience to help.
    • Our trustworthiness comes from our experience, specialized knowledge and our attention to quality control.
    • Document Delivery provides assurance by offering good quality online and written information about its services.  It provides reliable and responsive contact information, and a consistent message about what services are available and how to access them.  This reliable information and consistent message is provided by all public access desks, and by instructional services.
    • When service issues do occur library systems staff make every effort to resolve problems as quickly as possible, and communicate with users as to the status of ongoing service issues.
    • Staff will make every effort to get overdue material back for the patron who is waiting. Examples include calling the patron with late reserve books to remind them that others are waiting for the material, or calling to tell a patron their due date has been reduced due to a recall on the item.
  1. The Library regularly handles material that is personal, restricted, confidential or historically important in a professional manner.  Patrons trust that the information, whether personal data or borrowing records, is treated with respect and confidentiality.
    • All information pertaining to Library patrons is treated as confidential, whether it is personal information, faxes, or what books the patron is signing out.
    • We act in a professional manner when interacting with our users to help make sure they trust us to handle their documents in a respectful way.
  2. The Library understands we serve a diverse community with varied needs for our services.  We strive to treat everyone politely, with fairness and consistently follow policy.   Users are assured that librarians and staff will assist them with their research needs.
    • Politeness and helpfulness when we have encounters with faculty, staff and students.
    • Librarians and staff are approachable, courteous and knowledgeable.
    • Students are assured that Information Literacy librarians/staff will assist them with their research needs and if they don’t know the answer they will endeavor to find out or direct the person to the department, person, library, etc. who can best help them.
    • Questions, complaints will be dealt with promptly.
    • Patrons know that they can return or follow-up on instruction for as much assistance as is needed. 
  1. The Library works closely with other campus departments to deliver efficient service to patrons.  As a communal gathering spot for the university community we often are a point of reference for directions, event locations, etc.
    • The Access services staff work closely with other campus departments to deliver efficient service to patrons. We speak with the Services Centre several times per day to update cleared banner holds, we call Security to alert the staff of any problems, and our department works closely with all departments within the Library to help us serve our patrons.


  1. The Library plays an integral role in the lives of our community throughout their time at Saint Mary’s.  We see them through the highs and lows during their journey of higher education.  We treat each situation with understanding and caring – from the first time student, a visiting researcher, faculty, staff, alumni, or members of the wider community.  Understanding of their needs and expectations enables us to serve them to the very best of our ability.  We also understand that we are more than a repository of information and actively seek opportunities to interact on a human level.
    • The Access Services Staff often asks a student or patron who looks upset if they can offer assistance. The frontline staff understands that during times of stress, a student may be brought down by the smallest problem such as a lost class schedule.
    • We often deal with Alumni who have strong emotional ties to the University and vivid memories of their time here. We take this into account when dealing with them, being respectful and empathetic.
    • Awareness that students are not all alike.
    • Realization that students aren’t perfect.
    • Kind and helpful staff.
    • Personalized attention but no favourites.
    • Availability of E-mail and telephone reference.
    • Library systems staff attempt to convey to users that “there are no stupid questions”.
    • Library systems staff partner with users to work through systems issues. 
    • Library systems staff demonstrates their concern for users’ needs by resolving issues as quickly as possible, by offering alternative solutions in the meantime when possible, and by keeping users informed as service issues are resolved. 
  1. The Library understands the importance of timeliness in providing materials to library users.  Often the shared knowledge of staff enables us to expedite requests quickly and prioritize service demands as needed.
    • Ability to priorize service demands or to communicate a “first come, first served” policy.
    • Consistent delivery of service [including knowing when to punt].
    • Understand the importance of timeliness in providing materials to library users.
    • Consider academic research and study needs when making collection choices and maintenance decisions.
  2. Recognizing not all people learn in the same manner, the Library provides multiple avenues and formats for providing information: online, e-mail, print and in-person for the convenience of our users.
    • Information Literacy Librarians use multiple avenues and formats for providing information: online, print and in-person, for the convenience of users.
    • Information Literacy classes are tailored to individual class/assignment needs.
    • Information Literacy Librarians provide support to library staff in the form of in-house training sessions and instructional materials used by staff (e.g.,  on the reference desk) as well as by patrons.
    • The library actively seeks feedback from our patrons and staff to improve our services.


  1. The Library responds to the varied requests and expectations whenever possible in a timely manner.  Through collaborative efforts within the Novanet Consortia and libraries across Canada we have agreements in place for borrowing, returning, and access to a wide array of collections. New instruction materials, activities, or workshops are developed quickly as gateways to new library products and/or technology.
    • Providing extended hours during exams.
    • Ensuring that staffing allocations meet desk and operational requirements with full-time staff available evenings and weekends.
    • Each time an item is signed out, the patron is clearly told when the item is due back. If a patron is not sure when an item is due back, staff will look up the date on the patron record, and then show the patron how to access their online record so they’ll know for the next time.
    • If a patron is unable to come in during the hours the ID Centre is open, we will make ID cards on demand.
    • If a patron would like an item that is stored in the Library’s off-campus storage facility, we will retrieve the item and make it available to the patron within 24 hours of the request.
    • We offer Library memberships to all university students in Canada through programs such as the Atlantic Scholarly Information Network (ASIN), the Canadian University Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement (CURBA), to all Nova Scotia residents over the age of 19 years Borrow Anywhere/Return Anywhere (BARA), and to high school students enrolled in the International baccalaureate program.
    • Double staffing of the Reference Desk provides service with virtually no waiting.
    • We do rush requests for cataloguing new books as fast as possible – often while the user waits.
    • We prioritize workflow to process all materials (new books, gift books, recon, etc.) as quickly as possible.
    • Mistakes or changes in Information Literacy instructional materials are addressed in a timely manner (e.g., on webpages).
    • Information Literacy librarians/staff are quick to develop new instructional materials, activities, or workshops in response to new library products and/or technology.
  1. The Library anticipates and adapts to changing information environments through collaboration with faculty liaisons to source relevant material to meet their academic needs.  Through consortia purchases we provide wider access to electronic information which is delivered direct to the desktop which would otherwise be cost prohibitive.
    • Liaison with departments to ensure collection meets academic needs.
    • Consortia purchases for wider access to information and timely delivery will be cost effective.
    • Anticipate and adapt to changing information environments.
    • Respond to enquiries related to collection concerns as soon as possible and with accuracy.
    • Support other divisions within the Library to provide excellent service.
  1. The Library is a service-first organization.  Questions, problems, complaints are dealt with promptly and are resolved or passed on to the appropriate person or department. Our internal processes are designed to meet optimal response time for ordering, processing, and access to materials.  Services such as Novanet Express have expressed delivery time frames.
    • All full time Access Staff are available to provide an in-depth explanation of library fines and banner library blocks as well as Library and University policy wherever possible. We also discuss strategies that may help to avoid future library fines.
    • The Records Centre component of the University Archives requires quick responses to requests for material from elements within the University that have items in our collection. We measure the efficiency of our response through feedback from our users, and through their constant re-use of this service over time.
    • General archival requests for material in our collection are frequent, and often include a requirement for a quick response.  Requests from students and from internal university departments take priority over other archival tasks when received.
    • A “patron focussed” response is used at all times, to make sure we put ourselves in the shoes of the user.
    • The Access Services department maintains a lost and found service for patrons. We make every possible attempt to contact the item’s owner and we send unclaimed material to Security each week. All lost and found items are carefully recorded and require the owner’s signature when claimed.
    • Information Literacy librarians and staff regularly check ResearchBase email and promptly respond to student and faculty questions, concerns regarding their marks, etc.
    • Questions, problems, complaints are dealt with promptly, and are resolved and/or passed on to the appropriate person/department.
    • The Document Delivery service has delivery time estimates.  They maintain a set schedule for delivering materials between Novanet libraries.
    • Document Delivery staff statistically track their services as one way of monitoring service delivery times.
    • Library systems staff work with ITSS to resolve service requests as quickly as possible.
    • Library systems staff plan for, and offer backup solutions, and duplicated systems, so that users can get on with their work while systems issues are being addressed.
    • Library systems staff participates in ongoing maintenance in part to ensure the reliability of systems and services.
    • Craft the image of the Library as a friendly, welcoming destination.


  1. The Library provides a clean, well-lit and friendly atmosphere for a user that is conducive to academic achievement.
    • All Library staff work to provide a quiet Library environment that is conducive to study. We schedule hourly walks throughout the Library and ask noisy patrons to reduce the noise.
    • Services are offered from clean, well-organized facilities.
  2. Off-site access to our webpage and collection is reliable and equipment is kept in good working order.
  3. The service desks are well marked and staff is identifiable by name tags or library lanyards.
    • Staff dresses professionally.
    • Staff conducts themselves in a professional manner when interacting with our users.
  4. The Library provides an assortment of study space for the use of our patrons.  Individual study carrels, team rooms, reading lounge and worktables are disbursed throughout three floors providing areas for group discussion, individual study and computing, reading and contemplation.