The reference interview in a digital reference environment

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  • 1. The Reference Interview Ask an ipl2 Librarian Digital Reference Student and Volunteer Training Created July 17, 2010
  • 2. The Reference Interview
    • Occasionally, the user’s question and their self-reported information does not provide you with enough information to fully research the question.
      • You will want to conduct a reference interview so that you may address their inquiry and customize your response.
    • You may send a message to the user in QRC asking for clarification about their question.
      • This is accomplished using the "Ask_Info" feature in QRC, the ipl2’s question answering interface.
    • Please remember: users do not always respond to such requests, so use this option judiciously.
  • 3. Rules for Using “Ask_Info”
    • Provide at least one source with your request for information.
      • This is provided based on your best understanding of the question asked.
    • Follow-up if the user replies .
      • You have 24 hours to respond after the user replies with additional information.
    • If you are unable to follow through with the question after the reference interview, you must notify the ipl2 Administrative Team immediately using the Post-a-Note feature in QRC.
  • 4. “ Ask_Info” Script
    • We have prepared a script that you will need to modify before sending to the user. The script is available in QRC using the drop-down menu.
    • Hello from ipl2,
    • We would like to accept your question about [*insert the rephrased question], but we need some help from you before we can do so.
    • * Can you tell us more about [*insert what you would like the user to clarify for you] ...
    • * Can you tell us more about your (assignment/project/etc)? The more we know about it, the better we might be able to help you!
    •  
    • Based on our interpretation of your question , we have found the following information:
    • * Insert at least one source and include the six mandatory elements
    • Thanks for visiting ipl2! We look forward to your reply so that we can further answer your question!
  • 5. Example #1
    • Let’s work through an example step-by-step.
    • Read the user’s question and self-reported information.
    • Needed by: no need by
    • Question: inflant metarial motality
    • name: x
    • from: x
    • confirm: x
    • location: Texas
    • area: Science
    • reason: summary
    • school: Yes
  • 6. Example #1
    • Select the Ask_Info script and modify the script based on this specific user’s question.
    • Here is the first half of the script that has been modified based on the user’s question:
    • Hello from ipl2,
    • We would like to accept your question about infant and maternal mortality, but we need some help from you before we can do so. I believe you are requesting information about both infant and maternal mortality, but please let me know if that is incorrect.
    • * Can you tell us more about what you need to know about infant and maternal mortality? Is it related to the United States or some other geographic area?
    • * Can you tell us more about your project? It seems that you might be working on an assignment for school. The more we know about it, the better we might be able to help you!
  • 7. Example #1
    • Recommend at least one source in your response based on your interpretation of the user’s question. Include the six mandatory elements.
    • Here is the second half of the script:
    • Based on our interpretation of your question , I have found one source that may help you get started. The source is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a government department. You can see the statistics about U.S. infant mortality here:
    • http://mchb.hrsa.gov/chusa07/hstat/hsi/pages/206im.html
    • You can see the statistics about maternal mortality here:
    • http://mchb.hrsa.gov/chusa07/hstat/hsi/pages/205mm.html
    • These statistics were published in 2007. If you need something similar but more current, please let me know. I located the information by conducting a search in a search engine – Bing:
    • http://www.bing.com
    • I searched using the terms <infant maternal mortality AND statistics>. I browsed through the links until I saw a source I trusted to provide the most accurate information on this topic.
    • Thanks for visiting ipl2! We look forward to your reply so that we can further answer your question!
  • 8. Example #2
    • The user’s question and related information:
    • Needed by: no need by
    • Question: I looking for death notice in the paper
    • name: x
    • from: x
    • confirm: x
    • location: Metairie, LA
    • area: General Reference
    • reason: I am mason and my lodge would like to have more information about him. We are almost sure he was a mason but, we need the information. Thank you.
    • school: No
    • sources_consulted: Social Security Death Index and the 1880 census & 1900 fed census.
    • The ipl2’s response using the script. Notice that the script has been customized for this user!
    • Hello from the ipl2,
    • We would like to accept your question about looking for a death notice in the newspaper , but we need some help from you before we can do so.
    • *Can you tell us the name of the person whose death notice you are looking for, and the location(s) where they lived and/or died ?
    • The more information we know about this person, the better we might be able to help you!
    • Based on our interpretation of your question, we have found the following information to help you get started : the ipl2's pathfinder on Finding Obituaries, available online:
    • http://www.ipl.org/div/pf/entry/77286
    • I have used this resource before multiple times when searching for a specific individual. I also knew this source was available in the list of pathfinders the ipl2 has prepared in the Special Collections area of the website:
    • http://ipl.org/div/pf/
    • Thanks for visiting ipl2! We look forward to your reply so that we can further answer your question!
  • 9. Technical Use of “Ask_Info” in QRC
    • Follow these technical step to use “Ask_Info” in QRC:
      • Click on the Title/Subject field of the question.
      • Claim the question.
      • Go back to the question and click on the button to bring up the QRC text box.
      • Click Include to insert the &quot;Ask_Info&quot; script from the drop-down menu into the QRC text box.
  • 10. Technical Use of “Ask_Info” in QRC
      • Modify the &quot;Ask_Info&quot; script in the QRC text box to include a minimum of one source to answer the question you believe the user is asking (use the template provided).
      • Review your response.
      • Select your signature option.
      • Click &quot;Send&quot; to send the response to the user. Your use of the &quot;Ask_Info&quot; feature will automatically set the status of your question to Answered when you send your response to the user.
    Include the six mandatory elements!
  • 11. What happens next?
    • After your use of “Ask_Info”, the ipl2 Administrative Team will leave the question active for at least the next 24-48 hours.
      • Even after the question is inactivated, it is accessible if the user replies with additional information .
    • Remember: Your use of the “Ask_Info” feature requires you to reply to the user based on the new information you gain from conducting a reference interview.
  • 12. Questions?
    • Contact the ipl2 Administrative Team with your questions
    • about conducting a reference interview in email reference:
    • [email_address]