The Reference Interview

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The Reference Interview

  1. 1. The Reference Interview Spring 2008
  2. 2. The Reference Interview Process <ul><li>Most patrons ask one of these types of questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Directional (where is) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The restrooms are along the wall </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Instructional (how to use technology) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Let me show you how to use the OPAC </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Circulation (how to borrow) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Refer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We don’t have the text of the UN resolution but the Government Documents Department does </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Informational (assistance in finding information) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The phone number for the Washington State Bar Association is…. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Definition of the Reference Interview <ul><li>A creative problem solving process that is collaborative </li></ul>
  4. 4. Informational Reference Interviews <ul><li>A process that can be factored into four steps </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicating the information need </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Selecting a search strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Executing the search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessing the relevance of the results </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Specific Strategies <ul><li>We need to first clarify and elicit the patron’s information needs </li></ul><ul><li>We need to decide which information sources to consult based on an assessment of the patron’s need </li></ul><ul><li>We must be able to evaluate potential sources during the formulation of the search process and during retrieval </li></ul>
  6. 6. The 6 Pieces of Evidence <ul><li>Purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Deadline </li></ul><ul><li>Type and Amount (how much, picture, text) </li></ul><ul><li>Who (how knowledgeable is the patron) </li></ul><ul><li>Where (Where did the patron hear about the information) </li></ul><ul><li>The Basic Question (what does the patron really want to know) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Why can’t they ask for what they want? <ul><li>They don’t know the extent of your information resources </li></ul><ul><li>They don’t know how to ask for what they want </li></ul><ul><li>They feel the information is too confidential to disclose fully </li></ul><ul><li>They aren’t really sure yet what they want </li></ul><ul><li>They aren’t sure you have the information </li></ul><ul><li>They don’t think you understand the subject </li></ul>
  8. 8. Nonverbal Skills <ul><li>Make eye contact </li></ul><ul><li>Have a relaxed, open posture </li></ul><ul><li>Watch your facial expression and tone of voice </li></ul><ul><li>“Be here now” </li></ul>
  9. 9. Verbal Skills <ul><li>Project a professional image over the telephone </li></ul><ul><li>Be quiet and let the patron talk </li></ul><ul><li>Listen to each item of the request </li></ul><ul><li>Use encouragers </li></ul><ul><li>Ask open-ended questions </li></ul><ul><li>Establish a sense of expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid premature diagnosis </li></ul><ul><li>Get to the heart of the matter </li></ul><ul><li>Paraphrase the request in different words </li></ul><ul><li>Negotiate boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>How to say “no” without saying NO </li></ul><ul><li>Think through your search – any additional questions? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Approachability, Interest, Listening/Inquiring, Searching, Follow-up <ul><li>In all forms of reference services, the success of the transaction is measured not just by the information conveyed, but also by the positive or negative impact of the patron/librarian interaction. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Human Conversation Failure <ul><li>Human conversation failure seems to be more of the rule rather than the exception </li></ul><ul><li>Pet Sematary = Animal Graveyard </li></ul><ul><li>Socrates=soccer tees </li></ul><ul><li>UNIX=eunuchs </li></ul><ul><li>Supervision=super vision </li></ul><ul><li>Wales=whales </li></ul>
  12. 12. Communications Accidents <ul><li>Oranges and Peaches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An undergraduate student approaches the librarian. “I just can’t find this book and I have to read it by Monday. I tried to find it on my own and I can’t! The librarian replies in a soothing voice, “Do you have the title?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“It’s called Oranges and Peaches”. Of course there is no book with this title in the library. The librarian asks gently, “Do you have the author”. Charles somebody. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Can you guess the real title of the book?
  14. 14. The real book <ul><li>The student states that the book is legendary. The Bible on evolution. </li></ul><ul><li>On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin </li></ul>
  15. 15. Virtual Reference <ul><li>Are we artificially inflating the expectation that virtual reference must be a quick interchange? </li></ul><ul><li>Impatient patrons (face-to-face) – they have to get back to work, or go to class, or time is money, or my paper is due now. </li></ul><ul><li>They tap their fingers, they look at the clock, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Patrons may use virtual reference because it is more convenient </li></ul><ul><li>Negative closures and bad interview practices happen at the desk and they also happen online </li></ul>
  16. 16. Librarians’ Perceptions of the Reference Interview <ul><li>Many factors enter into a successful reference interview including the librarian’s communication style, the patron’s emotions and literacy skills, and the resources available. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Strategies for Children <ul><li>Problems can be: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Being more inarticulate in voicing information needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Either caring a lot or not caring at all because of the requests being a school assignment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being more unfamiliar with the classification system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Needing to get the same information as the rest of the class </li></ul></ul>

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