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.

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