Reference Interview for Staff


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Reference Interview for Staff

  1. 1. Reference Interview How to help patrons
  2. 2. Starting the Process• Librarian’s body language – Approachable – Friendly – Eye contact• Opening the interview – How can I help you? – Are you finding what you need?
  3. 3. Untangling the Question
  4. 4. Open Questions to Ask Patrons• Open-ended questions – We have a lot of books and other information on marketing. What kind of information are you looking for? – Can you tell me more about that? – What class is this for?• Closed questions – Have you looked in the catalog?• Encourage the patron
  5. 5. The Search – Do’s & Don’ts• Do … – Be (silently) skeptical of information patron presents – Explain what you‟re doing – Invite the patron to join you on the search – Explain confusing aspects of process – Beware of library jargon• Don‟t … – Grab question & search in silence – Appear disinterested or distracted
  6. 6. Why Be Skeptical?• I got this reference question in email from some faculty… – [We] are looking for an article, I think from the atlantic, more than a few years ago. It’s called “beautiful ruins”, or something like that, about looking at ruins not as the remains of something else, but as something with aesthetic value in themselves. If you could locate it and shoot it to us electronically, it’d be an immense help.• After banging on EBSCO Academic Search Premier for a while, I sent „em back this: – The closest I have found is the attached review of Christopher Woodward’s “In Ruins” called “Pleasing Decay” from the New Republic, by Rochelle Gurstein• With the full text attached. And got back from them: – Thanks Steve. This is it.• Heh.
  7. 7. Librarian Disease• How much does the patron want? – Just one book? – 3 scholarly articles? – “Good enough” – Everything?Librarian disease: “But wait, there’s more”
  8. 8. Closing the Interview / Follow Up• Confirm that resources are useful – Is this information helpful? – Does this answer your question?• Find the patron later and ask … – How are you doing?• End an unsuccessful interview with a referral – To Stephanie or Megan – To Wilson Library, North Carolina Collection, etc.• Obtain patron’s contact info. for follow up (sometimes)
  9. 9. Why Do Searches Fail?• Patron thinks… – Answer is simple but it isn’t – Librarian is too busy to help – Librarian takes too long to answer question – Librarian is uninterested – Librarian won’t be helpful• Google is simple, good enough• Library databases are harder than Google – Principle of least effort  Google
  10. 10. Special Needs Strategies• Patron has a heavy accent or other language issues: – Restate the question; – Ask the patron to write down the question; – Frame difficulties as: “I’m sorry, I’m having trouble understanding people today…”• Patron has a visual impairment: – Ask how best you can help; – Make your voice express welcome; – Speak directly to patron if they are accompanied by someone else• Patron has hearing problems: – Face the patron; – Ask how the patron would like to communicate; – Write if necessary
  11. 11. Difficulties @ the Desk• Problems – what do you do if … – Lots of patrons waiting – Questions you can’t / shouldn’t answer – You see pornography on a public computer• Real “problem” patrons – Disruptive to others – Demanding / abusive to staff• Successful solutions?