One of the goals of this pilot is to learn more about the types of research and reference services that can be offered to library users by student employees who are working without the support of a full-time library staff member, as well as what training and resources these students will need. To meet that goal, we will test different referral policies for the students working at Cudahy Circulation.
Why is it important to refer questions to a librarian, even if the student worker is able to provide assistance to the user?
You will need to conduct a reference interview with each library user to determine whether or not you need to make a referral. Generally speaking, you should refer the follow types of questions:
It's not always easy to draw a line, but questions that are more open ended than a known item search should be referred.
Known Item Search: "I'm looking for a copy of Hamlet by William Shakespeare."
Research Topic Question: "I'm looking for articles about Hamlet by Williams Shakespeare."
Grey Area: "I'm looking for a scholarly edition of Hamlet by William Shakespeare."
There are two primary options when making a referral:
When you determine that it's appropriate to make a referral, offer the user the options:
"The subject specialist librarian for that topic will be able to provide specialized research help for your question. Would you like to receive a follow up email from that librarian in the next 24 hours? If that doesn't suit your schedule, you can also get help from the library staff on duty in the Information Commons right now."
If the user would like to get help right away, offer two additional choices:
"You can go over to the IC 2nd floor and talk to the library staff at the reference desk. I'll let them know that you're on your way, and explain what we've already worked on. But if you'd prefer, you can also chat with them online from one of the computers here in Cudahy."
If the user would prefer to follow up with a subject specialist librarian, you'll need to follow several steps: