A conversation with the goal ofascertaining the user’s information needs and taking appropriate action to satisfy those needs through skillful use of available sources. The Reference Interview
1. Approachability 2. Interest 3. Listening/ Inquiring 4. Searching 5. Follow-upRUSA’s Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference andInformation Service Providers are the most widely recommendedstandard of service. Guiding Principles
How do you begin your conversation?• Build trust and rapport.• Let the user know that you are interested in the question.• Establish a tone for the conversation and read the users tone.• Observe the visitor’s chat style. 1. Approachability
Things to do at the beginning…• Introduce yourself and welcome the visitor.• If you are balancing multiple visitors, communicate that to them.• If you have someone "on hold", check back periodically.
Are you engaged in the conversation?• Eliminate distractions and focus on the visitor.• Maintain word contact.• Signal understanding.• Ask for clarification.• Check back to get feedback on your suggestions. 2. Interest
Negotiate the QuestionFolks don’t always express (or understand) theirneeds clearly.Uncover their unexpressed needs through attentivelistening and clarifying questions. 3. Listening / Inquiring
Attentive Listening…• Let them finish their thought.• Encourage them to explain fully.• Assume that their question is legitimate.• Rephrase to confirm understanding.• Don’t jump to conclusions.• Engage in dialogue to clarify the context. 3. Listening
Open Ended Questions…encourage visitors to expand and presentadditional information.• “Please tell me more about your topic.”• “What additional information can you give me?”• “What research have you done so far?” 3. Inquiring
Closed Ended Questions…help refine the search query.• “What type of resource do you need?”• “How many sources are required?”• “Do you need current or historical information?” 3. Inquiring
Contextual Questions…provide the situation surrounding the question.• “Are you doing this research for an assignment?”• “What course is this assignment for?”• “ Are you in the library or working from home?” 3. Inquiring
Process:• Determine visitor’s starting point.• Construct a search strategy and explain it.• Broaden or narrow the topic as needed.• Solicit feedback.• Utilize teachable moments.• Make an informed referral when necessary. 4. Searching
Process:• Determine visitor’s starting point.• Construct a search strategy and explain it.• Broaden or narrow the topic as needed.Why did you use those words?• Solicit feedback.How did you put them together?• Utilize teachable moments.Why did you choose certain sources over others?• Make an informed referral when necessary.How did you navigate the source?
Process:• Determine visitor’s starting point.The goal is that the visitor learn from the• Construct a search strategy and explain it.interaction and be able to conduct a similar• Broaden or narrow the topic as needed.search independently in future.• Solicit feedback.• Utilize teachable moments.• Make an informed referral when necessary.Guide them to the appropriate source and helpthem conduct the search. They learn fromreaching, not receiving, the answer.
Don’t let the door hit you…• Have all parts of the question been addressed?• Does the visitor have additional questions to ask?• Does the visitor understand the recommendations?• If necessary, does the visitor know how to get more information?• Have you invited the visitor back? 5. Follow Up
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