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Unleashing your Power: Basic Training in Library Reference Services

Cathay Keough led workshop attendees in learning basic reference skills, including elements for question-answering and building your "resources toolbox" in order to give library customers options.

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Unleashing your Power: Basic Training in Library Reference Services

  1. 1. Unleashing Your Power: Basic Training for Library Services Staff Library Reference Services Basic Skills - Best Practices MLA/DLA Joint State Conference 2016 Cathay Keough Statewide Coordinator, Delaware Library Reference Service Delaware Division of Libraries
  2. 2. What we’ll cover… • Goals/Objectives – you will be able to list the basic elements for conducting a reference interview • The Profession; a quick overview – Ranganathan’s Five Rules of Library Science – What is this thing we call “reference?” • Basic Reference Skills – Elements for answering a question anywhere – Resources to get you started • Practice – Question-answering online using these skills
  3. 3. “Bad libraries build good collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities.” ― David Lankes
  4. 4. How many of you answer library patrons’ questions?
  5. 5. Have you been trained in the reference interview process in the last few years?
  6. 6. Traditional Reference Services (usually limited to degreed librarians) Modern Reference/Public Services (most library staff) All library services (aligning community library mission with profession)
  7. 7. 1. Libraries serve humanity. 2. Respect all forms by which knowledge is communicated. 3. Use technology intelligently to enhance service. 4. Protect free access to knowledge. 5. Honor the past and create the future. Ranganathan’s Laws of Library Science Modern Version modified by Crawford and Gorman, 1995 Crawford, W., & Gorman, M. Future libraries: dreams, madness & reality. Chicago and London, American Library Association, 1995.
  8. 8. “Reference Transactions are information consultations in which library staff recommend, interpret, evaluate, and/or use information resources to help others to meet particular information needs. Reference transactions do not include formal instruction or exchanges that provide assistance with locations, schedules, equipment, supplies, or policy statements. “Reference Work includes reference transactions and other activities that involve the creation, management, and assessment of information or research resources, tools, and services.” Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) Approved by RUSA Board of Directors, January 14, 2008 Submitted by subgroup of RSS Executive Committee Tool Number 1: Professional Oversight and Guidelines for Library Reference Services
  9. 9. “The face of Reference Services has changed significantly since the original RUSA Guidelines for Behavioral Performance were first published in 1996… “…the world of Reference was moving beyond the traditional Reference Desk.” Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers (revised 2004) Reference and User Services Association
  10. 10. “Do I have to talk to insane people?" "You're a librarian now. I'm afraid it's mandatory.” ― Jasper Fforde, The Woman Who Died a Lot Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum. Unshelved. Overdue Media, LLC 2003
  11. 11. 1. No matter what format the service, our patrons deserve excellent help and expect a level of consistency in how we provide excellent customer service, in the formats and locations where they are reaching out to us. 2. Always provide options. Always. Two things to keep in mind:
  12. 12. Step one: The Greeting • Be approachable • Be welcoming, friendly and professional. Use personalization, it helps patrons know you are not a robot! • Let the patron set the tone (formal or informal) Tool Number 2: Elements for Question-Answering Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum. Unshelved. Overdue Media, LLC 2003
  13. 13. Step two: Show Interest • In person: • Eye contact • Move away from behind the desk • Positive body language • Virtual and in person: • Use good listening/communication skills • Interact, don’t dominate “Librarians who demonstrate a high level of interest in the inquiries of their patrons will generate a higher level of satisfaction among users.” - RUSA guidelines Tool Number 2: Elements for Question-Answering
  14. 14. Step three: Listen/Inquire • Ask open-ended questions (“Can you tell me more about…?”) • Clarify (“What type of information do you need?” “What have you already found ?”) • Paraphrase This is the heart of the reference interview; a conversation. Be objective. You are a professional. Tool Number 2: Elements for Question-Answering
  15. 15. Step four: The Search • Print/physical materials, or online? • Use your “Resources Toolbox” • Give options when appropriate; no barriers to use. Tool Number 2: Elements for Question-Answering
  16. 16. Step five: Follow up/Conclusion • Ask patrons if their question has been completely answered. • Welcome them back if they have more questions. • Mention alternatives, like email, texting. • Be careful not to be in too much of a rush to end. Tool Number 2: Elements for Question-Answering
  17. 17. Resources toolbox 1. Directories and Guides for finding online information: a. RUSA’s best free emerging websites: list-best-free-reference-websites-selected-rusa-s-emerging (2015) b. Delaware: Ask a Librarian DE’s Resources: c. Delaware: LibGuides (Subject Guides by Dewey): d. Maryland: SLRC Resource Guides: e. Library of Congress List of online resources: f. New York State Library list of Ready Reference Resources: g. Your library’s catalog and databases! 2. Commonly used directories in print a. Almanacs b. Dictionaries c. Encyclopedias d. History files, indexes e. Books in Print, A to Zoo, etc.
  18. 18. Resources toolbox 3. Community Resources: a. Delaware partners list: b. List of non-profits and businesses you may want to partner with (use RefUSA) c. List servs d. State Health agencies (such as Division of Health and Social Services) e. State Law/Legal resources: a. Delaware: b. Maryland: f. Universities and Community Colleges g. Etc. 4. Commonly used directories in print: a. Almanacs b. Dictionaries c. Encyclopedias d. History files, indexes e. Books in Print, A to Zoo f. Etc.
  19. 19. Resources toolbox 5. Subject Specialists: a. Library staff around you – find out about your co-workers’ expertise and hobbies b. Local historical societies c. Museum and Archives librarians d. Civic/Government and Legislative librarians e. Law librarians f. Universities and Community College librarians often have a specialty g. Job Center and Inspiration Space (Delaware) staff h. Your library association’s leaders and members i. Your library’s online “Ask” partners and providers j. Business / Corporate librarians k. Medical librarians l. Federal government-funded agencies’ librarians, such as through NASA
  20. 20. Practice! 1. Need one volunteer. Who has their cell phone and is comfortable with texting?
  21. 21. • Has to be short (140-150 characters) • Put “Test” in front of question. • Now, let’s watch!
  22. 22. Now it’s your turn to practice! Pair up: Person A = Librarian Person B = Patron
  23. 23. How would you handle these questions? 1. Hello, I don’t mean to bother you but…I’d like to find a book. 2. Do you have any information on dogs? 3. I’m wondering if you can help me. I’m feeling lost. 4. I’d like to travel; do you have any travel books? 5. Who said, “It’s like comparing apples to oranges?” 6. When is the next time to vote? 7. What’s the best resource for finding out about the weather? 8. Do you know where the nearest hospital is? 9. Can you help me find a good apartment? 10. How do you use a computer? 11. I need to find a job. Can you help me? 12. What’s your favorite color? 13. I need to interview a librarian for my school project. 14. Does the library have any good movies? 15. Does the library have anything on how babies are made? 16. My mother has Alzheimer’s – do you have anything to help? 17. How do I look up an album to see if you have the music?
  24. 24. Discussion How did it go?
  25. 25. reference
  26. 26. “A reference interview is a conversation between a librarian and a library user, usually at a reference desk, in which the librarian responds to the user's initial explanation of his or her information need by first attempting to clarify that need and then by directing the user to appropriate information resources.” Reference interview - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  27. 27. Extended Bibliography 1. Reference Interview: a. The New Librarians Reference Interview (2014) YouTube: b. Reference Interview 101 on Slideshare (2011): interview-101 c. The Reference Interview: Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers: behavioral-performance-of-reference-and-information-service-providers Gottesman Library/Teachers College, 2013. 2. The Profession: a. RUSA’s Definitions of Reference: b. RUSA’s Virtual Reference Companion:
  28. 28. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!