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Reference service strives to meet the information needs of library patrons regardless of who that person is, where they are, or what they are seeking. Understanding a patrons reference needs involves:
  1. Strategizing how to satisfy patrons information needs.
  2. Finding that information (checking it is on-target).
  3. Delivering it in acceptable form in a timely manner.
  4. Checking to see if the patron's needs are satisfied.
  5. Reviewing what worked, what didn't, and how to repeat the performance.
  6. Completing the process frugally.

Variety is the rule of the day. Some patrons will know exactly what they want. Others are actually asking for help to clarify what they want. Some patrons want simple answers. Others are asking for help to enable themselves to solve a reference problem. A helpful reference librarian must:

  1. Analyze. Finding out what a patron needs means helping them understand their own information needs
  2. Find. Working out a strategy to-find-what they need. It might be necessary to provide the user with guides, tutorials, and help on searching.
  3. Retrieve. Delivering information in an acceptable form and time frame to enable an independent user. So is teaching them to use the resources.
  4. Evaluate. The user needs to evaluate the information retrieved against the information needed for the particular purpose in hand. That means evaluating the success of each user and your interaction with each user as the final step.
  5. Review. Assessing what is working and what is not (tools and strategies), and how to repeat the performance for an unlimited range of unknown options and unknown users is program evaluation and planning
  6. Plan. Doing it fast and frugally requires thoughtful planning and administration.

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