The purpose of a reference interview is to:
- Identify as precise and understanding of the patrons needs as
- Understand the depth of the information needed and how much is
- Complete the interview efficiently.
- Develop a positive working relationship with that patron.
While each situation and user's need varies, in general, the interview
consists of a series of open ended questions that allow the patron to
freely express themselves without limitations. As an understanding
starts to emerge, closed ended questions which limit the patron's response
help the interviewer pinpoint information needs and confirm that
It is not the purpose of this Web page to outline all of the strategic
and subtle details of interviewing a reference patron. Many consider
this interview process an art. My resource
page for reference and
bibliography has links to evaluation
tools for administering reference service.
of the Reference Process The National Library of Medicine
provides a brief introduction to effective interviewing strategies and key
resources to guide a beginner through an interview on medicine and health
the Web The Ohio Library Council provides a more detailed look
at how to conduct a reference interview.
Library Commission (STAR) Reference Manual includes basic
interviewing strategies as well as guidelines for service to the disabled,
ethical issues, issues related to specials populations, specials topics,
Reference Interview Virginia Commonwealth University has an
on-line guide and an interesting, interactive simulation.
for Professional Competency for Reference and User Services Professionals
The American Library Association Reference and Users Services Association
(RUSA) defines what is meant by quality reference service. This site
contains links to important
personal behaviors that can attract a user or repel one and their standards
for legal, business and medical reference services.
Reference Interview in the Digital Library: A Bibliography
The Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign identifies a variety of resources that
address reference interviews in a digital context.
Reference Interview. Houston Area Library Service's
reference guide consists of 3 modules: (1). Skills, (2).
Questions, (2). Answers.
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