Module 2: Verifying Questions

Be sure you have it right before starting a search.

Check one last time…

You can verify information needs by restating the question and asking if you have the request correct. This important step can save you time searching by ensuring you are not looking for information that the patron does not need.


This last check insures that both you and your patron understand the specific information needs. Examples of language that can be used for this include:

  • “What you need is a recipe for tomato sauce that will 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 1st. 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 correct?”

Verifying Questions in Virtual Reference

The principles of verification are also applicable in virtual reference.

Major Point: Verify the specific question with the patron before beginning the search.