Module 1: Steps in the Reference Process

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

  1. Encouraging the patron to contact the library when there is an information need (outreach).
  2. Finding out what the real information need is (the reference interview).
  3. Finding the information that will meet the need (reference search).
  4. 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.