Following the basic steps of the reference process is vital
What You Can Do to Find and Fill the Real Information Need
Solving problems and meeting “gaps” in knowledge is a process involving many steps. The process requires finding the real gap in knowledge and then serving as an intermediary between the patron and the information that fills that gap.
Modules 2 and 3 will provide more in-depth material about specific behaviors and actions used in the reference process. You will learn how to conduct a reference interview to find the real information need and follow-up to be sure that the need is met.
Modules 4 and 5 will introduce you to the next steps, the strategies and resources you will use once you’ve determined the real need.
Module 6 explains the professional ethics and responsibilities of the reference process.
Steps of the Reference Process
- Encouraging the patron to contact the library when there is an information need (outreach).
- Finding out what the real information need is (the reference interview).
- Finding the information that will meet the need (reference search).
- Making sure the patron’s need really has been met (follow-up).
The Reference Process in Virtual Reference
The reference process for virtual reference services requires the same process steps: outreach (in the library or online); skillful interviewing; careful selection of search strategies and resources; and building a follow-up (and evaluation) step into the service.
Major Point: Reference work is a process that includes mediation and follow-up.