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Questions & Answers
Answering questions is a whole lot of the job. Patrons will ask about:
- Book recommendations
- Technology help/troubleshooting
- Local history resources
- Government resources
- And more!
We call it a reference interview, but it's really just a conversation. Like any conversation, there's give and take. Be sure you understand what the patron is looking for and ask questions that will help you direct them to the best resource.
And remember, you don't have to give an instant answer. You can always say, "I don't know, but I can find out."
Online Reference Resources - Quick Facts
During most reference interactions you'll end up following the patron's lead and finding the resource that fits their need. But there are times when knowing where to go for the quick fact comes in handy! Here are a few sites that will serve you well:
- Census Data: visit this site for a wealth of population data gathered by our federal government. It's easiest to search for a specific city, village, town, county, or state. Once the results are shown you can access the stats by clicking on the dark blue profile box on the right side of the screen to explore the data.
- Goodreads: a social cataloging website that allows users to search for books and reviews. This a great place to find information on series numbers or what real readers are thinking about specific books.
- imdb.com: access movie and TV show ratings, reviews, content, cast lists, and more!
- Wikipedia: a free encyclopedia. Understand that anyone can update this website at any time, whether their information is factual or not! However, if you have no idea what your patron is asking about, this is a good place to start. You can almost always get a basic understanding of the topic at hand.
- World Factbook: this is a resource produced by the CIA containing quick facts about countries of the world.
NCLS offers a variety of online resources for patrons, from genealogy to job seeking.
Depending on the resource, access may require creation of an account.
Conducting the Reference Interview by
Publication Date: 2019-02-08
Based on the latest research in communication theory but tailored specifically for real-world application, this updated manual speaks equally to the needs of students preparing to enter the profession and those who are already fielding reference inquiries. The authors present a convenient and comprehensive resource that will teach you how to understand the needs of public, academic, and special library users across any virtual setting-including email, text messaging, and social media-as well as in traditional and face-to-face models of communication. Packed with exercises and examples to help you practice effective reference transactions and avoid common pitfalls, this book tackles the fundamentals of the reference interview.
Providing Reference Services by
Call Number: 025.52 GOTT
Publication Date: 2017-05-19
Providing Reference Services: A Practical Guide for Librarians was written for the working librarian. Its seven chapters sketch the history of reference services, assess today's reference collections, outline the basics of reference practice, address reference staff management and administration, examine marketing and collaboration efforts, and consider the future of reference services. Each chapter includes a summary of key points and a list of references. Newly minted reference librarians, seasoned practitioners, and reference supervisors and administrators working in public, academic, school, or special libraries, along with LIS students, will find much to ponder in these pages.
Reference and Information Services by
Publication Date: 2020-05-04
This new edition of the classic text Reference and Information Services has been thoroughly updated to reflect current information in the field. The first half of the book provides an overview of reference services and techniques for service provision, including the reference interview, ethics, instruction, reader's advisory, and services to diverse populations including children. This part of the book establishes a foundation of knowledge on reference service and frames each topic with ethical and social justice perspectives. The second part of the book offers an overview of the information life cycle and dissemination of information, followed by an in-depth examination of information sources by type, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, indexes, and abstracts, as well as by broad subject areas including government, statistics and data, health, and legal information.