Reference Dept. Policies

I Objectives of the Department
II Library Clientele
III Types of Reference Services
IV Service to Individuals
V Instruction Service
VI Reference Desk Staffing
VII Problems
VIII Statistics
IX Supplies
X Contact


I Objectives of the Department

1.1 The primary objective of the Information Services Department is to assist library patrons in the location, use and understanding of information resources. These include but are not limited to:1.1.1 Answering directional questions.1.1.2 Providing instruction in the use of the Coleman Library and library resources.

1.1.3 Assisting with the use of Reference material.

1.1.4 Creating and maintaining a collection of Reference material, and arranging it for effective use.

II Library Clientele:

2.1 Undergraduate students are entitled to the same level of service as a graduate student, faculty member, administrator or university staff member.2.2 No distinction is made between university and non-university patrons in the provision of routine reference service.2.3 The distribution of passwords for remote access, and the provision of Interlibrary Loan service is not the responsibility of the Information Services Department.

III Types of Reference Services:

3.1 Reference Interview. Reference and Instruction Librarians always determine the needs of the patron.3.2 Directional questions. Reference and Instruction Librarians provide directional assistance, and answer basic questions about the library. Interlibrary Loan, reserve materials and circulation questions issues are directed to the Circulation Counter, and questions about microfilm and microfiche are directed to Periodicals.3.3 Source of inquiry. Reference and Instruction Librarians provide Reference information in-person, by telephone or E-mail.

3.3.1 If sufficient time is not available to answer in-person questions, patrons are told when an answer will be given.

3.3.2 Telephone questions are answered as soon as possible but do not take precedence over patrons waiting at the Reference desk. Callers requiring extensive or time-consuming assistance are helped if there is not a long line of in-person patrons, otherwise Reference Librarians offer to call the patron back, or suggest that the patron come to the library in-person.

3.3.3 E-mail questions usually have a 24-hour turnaround time.

3.4 Reference. Reference and Instruction Librarians provide instruction on the usage of Reference sources, with the aim of teaching patrons to be independent researchers.

3.5 Instructional materials. Reference and Instruction Librarians prepare and distribute instructional handouts for Research Instruction classes, and copies of these are available behind the Reference desk.

IV Service to Individuals:

4.1 As a general rule, service to patrons who come to the Reference area takes priority over any other activity. Reference and Instruction Librarians scheduled to staff the reference desk should be available at all times to provide personal service.4.1.1 When possible, student workers should handle distribution of the printouts, and leave the substantial Reference questions to the professional staff member at the desk. Sorting printouts is the primary responsibility of the student worker.4.1.2 Patrons are discouraged from coming behind the reference desk as much as possible. This is out of a concern for the implicit privacy understood regarding printing.

4.2 When there are two or more patrons waiting, help should be offered to the patron who has been waiting the longest. If it is agreeable, assistance can be offered to questions that will take the least amount of time.

4.3 Telephone patrons are next in priority, but should be afforded the same attention to detail and courtesy.

4.4 If there are no patrons needing help, librarians should answer those questions still unanswered.

4.5 At times, patrons will approach librarians who are not scheduled to be at the reference desk, but are in their offices. Reference librarians should be willing to assist patrons should this happen.

4.6 Reference and Instruction Librarians should feel free to contact, either by telephone or in person, any other Librarian in the building for assistance if needed.

V Instruction Service:

5.1 Most incoming freshmen students are not aware of the range of services the library has to offer. Thus the Information Services Department strives to provide an initial instruction session to each University College course in each semester.5.2 The Reference and Instruction Librarians also actively participate in Panther camp each summer, as part of the Orientation to each freshman class. Students tour the library, and receive information regarding the reference, circulation and student computer lab.5.3 The Information Services Department is also the Research Instruction unit for the library, offering Research Instruction classes upon request for any class, any level. Sessions are tailored to specific pedagogical goals, where possible, and faculty are encouraged to work with the reference librarians in the creation of these materials.

5.4 The Research Instruction sessions seek to follow ACRL’s guidelines for Information Literacy.

5.5 As a result, the Reference and Instruction Librarians seek to have:

5.5.1 Patrons understand that it is always appropriate to ask for assistance in finding research material.

5.5.2 Patrons understand the purposes and uses of the Reference collection.

5.5.3 Patrons use the online catalog to search for books using author, title and subject field searches.

5.5.4 Patrons determine if the Coleman Library has the periodical they need.

5.5.5 Patrons know when and how to use online databases either abstract or full-text.

5.5.6 Patrons know when and how to use Interlibrary Loan.

5.6 The Instruction program is administered by an Instruction Coordinator, who is the contact person for the faculty. This Librarian is responsible for determining the schedule, content and instructor for each session.

VI Reference Desk Staffing:

6.1 A professional staff member will be on duty at the reference desk Monday-Thursday 7 am- 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 8-5, Sunday 3 pm-midnight.

VII Problems: 

7.1 Complaints regarding Reference service and Reference policies should be directed to the Coordinator.7.2 If a patron causes a disturbance in the Reference area, the Librarian on duty should request that they cease. Should the activity continue, the patron should be asked to leave the building. If the patron becomes threatening, unruly or abusive, security should be called and the Library Director notified.

VIII Statistics:

8.1 A daily tally sheet of reference activity is kept, and marking the types of reference questions answered is the responsibility of each person who answers a question, regardless of whether they are scheduled to staff the Reference desk.8.2 Questions are identified by source: walk-in (approaches the Reference desk), phone or e-mail. If the Librarian provided more information than a simple direction answer, this is also indicated. “Hands-on” questions describe situations where the patron was taught how to do something, usually involving the computer.8.3 Departmental statistics are tabulated monthly and a copy is provided to each Reference and Instruction Librarian, and the administrative office on the second floor. This task is usually assigned to the Coordinator.

IX Supplies:

9.1 The Information Services staff maintains a small amount of supplies to give to patrons. Note paper and pencils are provided at the workstations. Small amounts of paper clips, rubber bands and white-out are also provided. The desk does not provide envelopes or letterhead stationery.9.2 A stapler, three-hole punch and paper cutter are provided for public use, and may not be removed from the Reference area.9.3 A typewriter is available in room 126D, but paper is not provided. Copiers are available in the Reference and Periodicals area. Patrons are not allowed to use their own paper in the copiers, or ask to use their own paper in the printers. Transparencies are not allowed to be used in either the printers or copiers.

9.4 The Reference telephone is for Reference staff use only.

9.5 The Information Services staff is responsible for maintaining the paper and toner in the printers, and the single copier located in the Reference area. Staff is not responsible for providing change for copiers.

X Contact:

10.1 Patrons may contact the Reference Department by calling (936) 261-1535 or just x1535 if on campus, by email