Module 3: Recap

What Have You Learned


  • It is important during the reference interview to encourage questions by being approachable and by using verbal and nonverbal welcoming behaviors. Websites and library remote services must also exhibit approachability to encourage patrons to use the services.
  • Major Point: Being approachable encourages questions.

Body Language and Nonverbal Communication

  • Use body language to show respect for patrons. Stop what you are doing and pay complete attention when listening to the question. For remote transactions, avoid long delays that make the user feel abandoned.
  • Major Point:  Expressing interest in the patron’s question is an essential model reference behavior, whether providing either face-to-face or remote services. In person, a smile and respectful body language can help patrons feel comfortable.

Model Behaviors

  • Discovering and meeting information needs is more successful when all model reference behaviors are used: approachability, comfort, interest, listening, inquiring, searching, informing, and follow-up.
  • Major Point: Model reference behaviors will improve the success of your reference work.


  • Cultural, physical, language, education, or emotional differences can create communication barriers that prevent patrons from indicating real information needs. Misconceptions about libraries and confusing library arrangement can prevent patrons from using the library or library services successfully.
  • Major Point: Cultural, physical, technological, or language barriers; misconceptions about libraries; and a confusing library set up or website designs can be barriers to successful reference service. Our task is to eliminate or minimize these barriers.

Telephone and Email Reference

  • Remote reference by telephone presents special problems and requires special skills. You must use your voice to show approachability. With email you cannot see the user or use your voice to convey meaning, and are putting answers in writing, so special care is required!
  • Major Point: For telephone and email reference, use your voice or words to smile, emphasize the reference interview behaviors, and speak or write clearly.

Tricky Situations

  • Service to patrons is your primary responsibility. You can only serve one person at a time effectively, and you should always fully serve the person in front of you. There are solutions to handling too many people, but your own library’s policies should be your final guide.
  • Major Point: You can only serve one person at a time effectively, and you should always fully serve the person in front of you.

Major Point: Understanding patron differences and using model behaviors in the reference interview will increase success in determining real information needs.

End of Module 3

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