Reviews: Keeping track of interactions with Desk Tracker

Title: Keeping track of interactions with Desk Tracker
Contact information for product/service:
Reviewer’s name and contact information:

Tanya Prokrym
ER Librarian, University of Notre Dame
NC Cardinal Data Librarian, NCDCR (as of 1/1/12)

Date of Review
:  December 23, 2011

Desk Tracker is a web-based library statistics system offered by Compendium Library Services LLC.  The program enables library staff to record general reference activities, utilize a system-wide READ scale to standardize the reporting process, generate reports, and customize Desk Tracker windows to capture both individual and group/branch information.  One of Desk Tracker’s greatest strengths is that it is customizable, enabling you to create different logins at the individual or group level.  It enables you to standardize, within reason, how reference information is being recorded and tracked.  One of the greatest weaknesses of Desk Tracker is that reports are only as good as what is recorded.  Like any system, there is subjectivity in selecting the “right” option.  Everyone records events differently.  Since Desk Tracker is very customizable, you can create a customized system that provides library staff with too many choices.

Our Library uses Desk Tracker for a variety of purposes.  We record individual, reference desk, branch, and department events.  Some examples at the group/organizational level include recording the type and frequency of reference questions, email activity, patron types, and contact medium (walk-in, email, etc.) for the reference desk, branches, and our electronic resources group.  Individual events include recording the number of research consultations and training sessions conducted by a specific library staff member.  We run reports that let us track the best level and times for staff allocation.   Library staff also use individual reports for workload analysis.

Desk Tracker is easy to use and set up.  Accounts come standard with common data-entry fields that address the basic questions of where a question came in, how the question came in, and why the question was asked.  Beyond that, you can build detailed forms and add supplementary fields you wish to collect or remove the ones you don’t.  Reports are easy to read and can be loaded into SPSS.  Best of all, Desk Tracker is not a high cost investment, running our library around $4000.

There are a few features that are a little frustrating within Desk Tracker.  It is hard to see statistics for the current day or if you make a mistake upon input, it is hard to edit that mistake.  The custom timestamp that is offered within Desk Tracker has a mind of its own and some statistics have gone “missing”.

In summary, Desk Tracker is pretty simple to use.  It offers a system that provides flexibility – you can customize it as little or as much as you wish.  It provides a READ scale that can be used to standardize the recording of events.  For a little bit of money investment, you can obtain a tool that will make you think about your reference activities and how to record them, set up the framework to work within the context of your library, and then use it.

Statistics and Analytics: Ways to Record Library Interactions

How do we know if our library community is using the programs or services that our library offers? How do we know if our time is well spent in staffing these services? What products are put there that can help us record and use all of this information to help improve or develop new resources or services to engage our library patrons? RUSA MARS’ Products & Services committee has put together reviews of different options for libraries to track all sorts of stats.

If there are questions about a specific product/service, please contact the reviewer directly. If there are suggestions for other products to review, please contact the Chair of the Products & Services committee, Ngoc-Yen Tran at nttran[at]

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