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Reference and Research Skills . Priscilla Speer Jan. 2008. The reference Interview: what is it?. It’s a conversation between a patron and a reference staffer It’s a means of ascertaining a patron’s needs It’s a strategy employed to assist patrons with research needs

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Reference and research skills

Reference and Research Skills

Priscilla Speer

Jan. 2008


The reference interview what is it
The reference Interview: what is it?

It’s a conversation between a patron and a reference staffer

It’s a means of ascertaining a patron’s needs

It’s a strategy employed to assist patrons with research needs

It’s the center of reference service

It’s where the library most clearly & forcefully demonstrates to the public its value to them.

It’s never the same!


Steps in the reference interview
Steps in the Reference Interview

Open the interview.

Negotiate the question.

Search for the answer

Communicate the information to the user.

Close the interview.

- Bopp/Smith. Reference & Information Services. 3rd ed. Littleton, CO; Libraries Unlimited, 2001. p48.


Step 1 open the interview
Step 1: Open the interview

Non verbal

Approachability

Questions such as “Can I help you?”

Create trust

First response is most important


RUSA Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference & Information Services Professionalshttp://www.ala.org/ala/rusa/rusaprotools/referenceguide/guidelinesbehavioral.htm

1.0 Approachability

2.0 Interest

3.0 Listening/inquiring

4.0 Searching

5.0 Follow-up


Step 2 negotiate the question
Step 2: Negotiate the question Information Services Professionals

Communication techniques:

- open questions- encourages user to talk

- closed questions-leads to short answers

- neutral questioning-understanding the context of the information need

- active listening-restating what the patron has said to get their agreement that it is what they are needing.

Most important stage in the reference interview


Interviewing principles
Interviewing Information Services Professionalsprinciples

Smile and greet patron in a friendly manner

Listen carefully, be interested

Take question seriously.

Ask questions until you completely understand the information need.

Never think you know the answer.

Invite the user to return if more help is needed.


Step 3 searching for the answer
Step 3: Searching for the answer Information Services Professionals

Should do this as a team

Continually checking with patron regarding currency, depth, etc…

Continue to discuss the question

Guide the patron, don’t do all the work for them.


Step 4 communicate the information to the patron
Step 4: Communicate the information to the patron Information Services Professionals

Free of jargon

Appropriate intellectual level

Tell or show the source


Step 5 closing the interview
Step 5: Closing the interview Information Services Professionals

Contributes to the users final impression of the library’s reference service

Contributes to user satisfaction

Use referrals if unsuccessful

Defer until librarian has more time


Attitudes & Characteristics of the Reference Librarian Information Services Professionals

Discipline, self control, choosing to listen

Sensitivity

Patience

Broad Knowledge

Desire to help

Knowledge of Reference sources

- Bopp/Smith. Reference & Information Services. 3rd ed. Littleton, CO; Libraries Unlimited, 2001. p49.


Avoiding avoidance
Avoiding Information Services ProfessionalsAvoidance

Ease of computer searching

Non approachable

Bad experience

Lack of interest

Walk through technique

Being approachable

Listening


Online chat virtual reference
Online Chat/Virtual Reference Information Services Professionals

  • Facts:

  • Can communicate in real time together.

  • Many libraries request only submission of short answer questions, no complex questions.

  • Questions:

  • Can it be as effective without eye contact, voice, facial expression cues?

  • What about confidentiality of chat reference transcripts?

  • Does this engender the fast food approach to scholarship?

-Johnson, Corey M. “Online Chat Reference” Reference & User Services. Spring 2004: 237-245


Q. First Choice for Reference Help with a Research Project Information Services Professionals

Overall, 66% indicated that they would choose face-to-face reference first. E-Mail reference was a distant second at 20%, and telephone & online chat garnered 9% and 4% respectively.


Q. Service Predicted to be Most Heavily Used in Ten Years Information Services Professionals

Respondents predicted that e-mail reference would be the most heavily used service. E-mail reference constituted 42% of the responses, online chat reference 36% of the responses, face-to-face reference 19% of the responses, and telephone reference 3% of the responses.


Pathfinders a reference tool
Pathfinders: Information Services ProfessionalsA Reference Tool

Research guides to help patrons

Help expedite the research process.

The patron uses the pathfinder as a type of tutorial that will get him/her ready to ask questions during the reference interview.

Would help alleviate stress for those patrons who prefer to look for themselves first.

Creates a criteria for the reference interview.

Can be good starting points in the reference interview and good ending points, as in “here is the list of sources for the information you want” but without the human element, they alone are really not the solution to reference questions.


Pathfinder format generally includes the following: Information Services Professionals

  • Title,introduction, and scope

  • Starting Points

  • Referencesources

  • Card catalog

  • Online Databases

  • Journals

  • Media

  • Web sites

  • Further Research


Examples of online Pathfinders: Information Services Professionals

  • John Newbery Elementary School http://nb.wsd.wednet.edu/lmc/pathfinders/pathfinder.htm

  • Springfield Township High School Virtual Library

  • http://mciu.org/~spjvweb/pathmenu.html

  • Camden County Library - Subject Guideshttp://www.camden.lib.nj.us/reference/subject.htm

  • Indianapolis Marion County Public Library:

  • Pathfinders for Kidshttp://www.imcpl.org/kids/guides/index.html

  • Barley Sheaf School Library

  • http://www.stemnet.nf.ca/CITE/themes.html

  • Subject Guides: UTC

  • http://www.lib.utc.edu/guides/index.html

  • Lakewood High School Pathfinders for Research Projects

  • http://www.lkwdpl.org/lhs/lhspath.htm

  • West Springfield High School Library Pathfinders and other Resources

  • http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/westspringfieldhs/library/pathfinders.htm


Bibliography
Bibliography Information Services Professionals

Bopp/Smith. Reference & Information Services. 3rd ed. Littleton, CO; Libraries Unlimited, 2001. p48.

Johnson, Corey M. “Online Chat Reference” Reference & User Services. Spring 2004: 237-245

Katz, William A. Introduction to Reference Work. Basic Information Services. Vol. 1. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002.


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