Be sure you have it right before starting a search.
Check one last time...
You can verify by restating the question and asking if you have the request correct. Try not to jump to conclusions. Listen to the patron all the way through before deciding what the question is and how you plan to answer it. This important step can save you time searching for something the patron didn't really want in the first place.
When you think you have the question clearly in mind and are ready to search for the answer, check one last time before searching to verify you have the patron's real question.
"So, what you specifically want to know is the population of Ohio in 1996. Is that right?"
"What you really need is a recipe for tomato sauce to serve 400 people, right?"
"Am I correct that you are looking for a distributor of ball bearings in Homer, Alaska?"
"So then, you need three or four articles on the Depression for your term paper due on March 1. Is that what you need?"
"What you are specifically looking for, then, is the Hispanic population of the United States at the last census, broken down by gender. Is that right?"
This last check insures that you and the patron understand what you will be searching for.
Good Examples of Bad Assumptions
Sometimes we think we know what the question is before the patron even finishes talking. The man with the greasy hands who asks about car books is obviously going to want a repair manual, right? The 12-year-old who asks for a book on Wyoming is doing a school report, right?
Maybe not. The man may be writing a novel and needs to know the kind of cars popular in 1920, and the 12-year-old may be taking a trip.
Major Point: Verify the specific question with the patron before beginning the search.
Listen carefully to the patron and then restate the question to be sure you have correctly determined the real information need.
Examples of Verifying Questions
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