The Reference Interview
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The Reference Interview






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The Reference Interview The Reference Interview Presentation Transcript

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