Friday, May 16, 2008

Reference Interview Questions

I agree so much that I'm just going to repost his entry. I don't know if I could have said it any better than he and Michele McGinnis did. This goes way beyond "Does this answer your question" to actually answering the question appropriately and, by establishing informal communication, building community.

Emphasis in red is my own - because I hear these parts being skipped too often in reference interviews. Some of the items will change if you are a public librarian. You're not writing the report for someone in a special library - you're helping someone find what they need for their own report!

Reference Interview Questions
via Stephen's Lighthouse by stephen on 5/2/08

Fellow SLA member, Michele McGinnis at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, assembled a neat list of reference interview questions through the SLA Solo Librarians Division discussion list. I liked them so I got her permission to post them here. Hope you find them useful too. (If you have other favourites put it into the comments).

What would the ideal report contain?

How do you plan to use the information?

What do you expect to discover?

What would surprise you?

How do you want me to share my findings? (Written report, Sharepoint site, PowerPoint, links to or printed articles, etc.)*
(*Anon Note: In a public library setting I suspect this would be "How do YOU want to share your findings - unless it's a report you expect to write, of course)

How would you like the information organized?

What do you already know that you can share with me? (Emails, letters, notes, articles, websites, etc.)

What keywords would you use in searching? Share as many variations of a concept as possible.

I always ask what is the deadline--one hour, one day, one week? If they respond one of the first two, then I let them know the possibility of that given my current work load.

How current should the information be? (x days, x months, x years)
Urgency and/or impact on the organization?

Would you like to review abstracts/ tables of contents before I purchase or borrow any items (if they are available)?

Who do you want the information delivered to?

Is the information for someone else too?

Is there some way to delvier it that will make it easier for you to use the information?

Neat, eh? It's always useful to remember those old reference interview classes and skills.

Stephenie Meyers

In case you hadn't noticed, Stephenie Meyers crosses over between YA and Adult paranormal readers. Please make a note of it:

'Twilight' author sinks her teeth into an adult tale of aliens, love
via Books - Top Stories on 5/6/08

Marketing your library

via by on 5/5/08

Trendwatching is a great resource for looking at what consumers are into in the past and probably the next quarter at least. Their newsfeed is free and summarizes parts of their not-free reports. If I were a marketer or PR person, even for a lowly library, I think I'd make sure to read the feed and try to afford some of the reports.

This quarter they discussed how Eco-friendly sells, sells, sells. A library could really do a great job of advertising how eco-friendly they are for the consumer, especially on the Reuse portion fo the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle part of the Eco-friendly equation. No, it doesn't do much on the publisher's end, but on the green end of the equation a library's collection is The Way To Go. Not to mention our e-books and e-audio and even e-video collections today.

One problem libraries run into is their inability to turn on a dime and capture this audience while the iron is hot. With budgets and time at a minimum, I wonder how libraries could capture this trend?

Just subscribe in your reader - Reader's Advisor Online

Really, if you don't already subscribe to Reader's Advisor Online's newsfeed in your reader and you're actually interested in reader's advisory, I really must insist that you do so immediately.

Really. Insist. I must.

Look at all the info you're missing!
Summer Fiction Blockbusters
via The Reader's Advisor Online Blog by Cindy Orr on 5/14/08
Something we should all skim. The blockbusters are what we get asked for. And people always want to know the newest title. You can't remember everything but with enough skimming you never know when you'll run across something that rings a bell.

BONUS: Adding to your own reading list - that's what I'm doing at my Goodreads list in between posts today

DOUBLE BONUS: Get ideas for your favorite reader-with-low-budget gifts!

Reader's Advisor also has a weekly list of books hitting the bookstores the following week. Another must-skim so you can at least say to the user "Gee, that rings a bell."
An example (usually has a title - someone goofted that week):
(title unknown)
via The Reader's Advisor Online Blog by Cindy Orr on 5/4/08

Great news about Harry Potter!

The Reader's Advisor Online Blog by Cindy Orr on 5/11/08
"Harry Is Off the ListFor the first time since 1998, Harry Potter is off the New York Times Bestseller list. "

WHEW! Now that's what I call magic! I do hope Rowling will continue to publish other series that have as much influence on popular culture. I'm just tired of Pottermania.

Great Resources for librarians

We use the Internet Public Library. We use the Librarian's Internet Index. We use a lot of great online resources. I've found some of the libraryland feeds I monitor to be treasure troves.

Here's a good example. It does not give legal advice, but it does give public libraries or anyone in a public area a good research starting place:

Blog Answers Legal Reference Questions Related to Homelessness
via PLA Blog by Kathleen Hughes on 5/12/08