The key to the reference process.
Reference service is a way for libraries to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Filling information needs requires discovering the real need behind a patron's first question. Patrons may not clearly express real information needs or may be limited by misconceptions about libraries. The reference interview is a means of determining real information needs.
Finding the underlying "gap" in knowledge or problem to be solved behind the patron's opening question is an ongoing reference process that includes mediation and follow-up by public service staff. There are four basic steps in the reference process - outreach, determining needs (the reference interview), filling needs, and follow-up.
Skills and steps in the reference interview include:
Listening - the Most Important Part of the Reference Interview
Listening to a patron without interrupting (a skill that is particularly difficult for some of us) and asking the right questions are necessary skills for successful reference service. You won't find the right answer if you don't know the right question.
Keep in mind that there are many reasons why patrons don't state real needs. Persevere, be creative, and practice the techniques you will learn in this module.
Interviewing: In Person or Remote?
Many reference interviewing skills are the same for remote reference:
Major Point: The reference interview answers the basic question: what does the patron really want to know?
Training for virtual reference providers
Listening and asking the right questions: important parts of the reference interview.
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