The Research Center: Creating an Environment for Interactive Research Consultations

Publication Date


Document Type


Organizational Units

University Libraries


Academic libraries, Reference services, Research



This paper aims to report on the University of Denver Penrose Library's Research Center, a new reference service model created to respond to the changing needs of students and to strengthen the connection between research and writing.


An increase in reference questions requiring more time, a financial gift to the university which provided an opportunity to propose a new vision of integrating research and writing, and the opening of a new Writing Center in the library prompted the reference librarians to implement a consultation model in fall quarter 2008. A highly visible, dedicated space for one‐on‐one, in‐depth consultations, the Research Center reinforces skills learned in library instruction sessions and effectively promotes reference services.


A successful new Research Center reaches a larger segment of the university community, better serves student research needs, and enhances library instructional services. During the course of the academic year, 856 consultations were provided to students and faculty, attesting to the popularity of the service.

Research Limitations/Implications

More robust assessment data are needed to establish the impact of the Research Center on student learning.

Practical Implications

The paper outlines a successful method of delivering research services that leverages existing staff resources, increases the visibility of library services, and provides more personalized, in‐depth research consultations to the university community.


Adapted from the Writing Center consultation model, the Research Center's prominent location and configuration encourage active learning interactions, complement the library instruction program, and actively promote consultations with subject‐specialist librarians.

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