Working the room
: A case study of staff perspectives on roving in a university library

  • Ross Aaron Noon

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


The activity of library staff roving for the purpose of helping users is becoming more prevalent within a changing UK university sector. As universities become more business-oriented and students expect a service quality that justifies their tuition fees, institutions find themselves under increasing scrutiny to meet user wants and needs. From a library services perspective, roving is a tool to provide customer service that students-as-consumers have come to expect (Wheatcroft, 2015). This study investigates roving, the practice of circulating library spaces and offering assistance, at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU). It sets out to establish how this frontline service is currently practised and how staff feel about it. There is a specific focus on staff perspectives through a mixed methods approach to research in a workplace setting. This includes a survey of 23 Library Support Advisers (LSA) and two unstructured interviews with staff who contribute towards the operational management and strategic direction of roving at the university. A review of internal documentation pertaining to roving at ARU and a critical analysis of literature feed into research design and provide a basis for this inductive case study. Aspects of the service evident in the results include visibility and uniform, approachability and comfort zones, technology, behaviour management and stress. Results imply that LSAs understand the purpose of roving but there are divergent opinions as to how it should be practised as well as evidence of staff discomfort when it comes to undertaking practical elements of the current service. A Senior Management perspective brings the notion of library spaces to the fore, and points to further research in order to manage transitional change. This study concludes with recommendations for operational improvements and further research that could shape the future development of roving in a university library environment.
Date of Award07 Mar 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorHugh Preston (Supervisor)

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