Effectively working with a patron during the
reference interview phase is critical to gain an understanding of the
explicit and implicit aspects of a given reference question.
Establishing a search strategy, locating appropriate information sources,
effectively using those sources, understanding where to turn for
additional assistance, deciding what to provide the patron to meet their
information needs, and reflecting on how each search can be useful to the
next one involves translating the reference question into a systematic
plan of action.
Dr. Anne Zarinnia promotes Bunge's Classifying
the Question as a tool to achieve these ends. To summarize this
technique, it is useful to classify questions before starting a
search. Think of each reference request in terms of:
- Topic and viewpoint in terms of time, space,
people and fact.
- Time frame: now or later?
- Quick answer or in-depth?
- Easy or challenging?
- What other questions like this have I handled?
- What do I already know about this topic?
- Do specific type sources come to mind?
- Will the answer require description,
narration, summation, analysis, persuasion, or encyclopedic approach?
- Does the structure of the information requested
suggest geographic, histroic, biographic, generic, or specific topical
- What specific sources come to mind?
- Formulate a search strategy.
- Develop alternative strategies.
- Identify antonyms and homonyms.
- Will it be possible to work the problem
- Are any analogies or metaphors helpful?
These considerations result in being able to
apply previous experience and knowledge to a new problem solving activity.
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Geography & History