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
Reference and Research Skills
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!
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.
Questions such as “Can I help you?”
First response is most important
RUSA Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference & Information Services Professionalshttp://www.ala.org/ala/rusa/rusaprotools/referenceguide/guidelinesbehavioral.htm
- 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
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.
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.
Free of jargon
Appropriate intellectual level
Tell or show the source
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
Discipline, self control, choosing to listen
Desire to help
Knowledge of Reference sources
- Bopp/Smith. Reference & Information Services. 3rd ed. Littleton, CO; Libraries Unlimited, 2001. p49.
Ease of computer searching
Lack of interest
Walk through technique
-Johnson, Corey M. “Online Chat Reference” Reference & User Services. Spring 2004: 237-245
Q. First Choice for Reference Help with a Research Project
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
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.
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:
Examples of online Pathfinders:
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.