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
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
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