Reference Informational Interview

By the second week of class you need to pick a target library for learning more about Reference environments for the semester.  This should not be a library you have worked in or work in now, and not the community library that you know really well. This library can be any type – school, special, academic or public library.  All of your work can be online, using the library’s web site, a Zoom interview, and via email.

You need to document:

  1. The name of the library and its address
  2. Type of library – school, special, academic or public library
  3. The URL for the library; URL for Reference (if available)
  4. Library statistics including: size of reference staff, number of potential users, reference collection size, number of public access computer terminals and their use (if not all multi-purpose)
  5. Reference formats – in-person, chat, mediated searching, e-mail
  6. A description of its reference section (where, approximately how big, distance between service desk and reference sources,…) – you will most likely ask about this in the interview
  7. The usual suspects in the reference collection – World Almanac, Chase’s, World Book and note any unique selections (search their catalog or Discovery tool)
  8. Other information – newspaper article, informational web pages, online marketing efforts, etc.

The Interview – ask the Reference Librarian if you can schedule a short interview that would be conducted during a time when s/he is off the Desk. If that person cannot participate, ask for a recommendation of someone who would be able to engage in an interview. I suggest that you draft some questions of your own (drawn from the course, readings, and experience). The following will provide a good start to the conversation.

              1. Ask about the mix of typical questions – quick answer or research.

2. Find out how long s/he has worked on reference and her/his take on the changes in this area of librarianship.

3.  Query the person on changes with in-person reference? Telephone reference? Email reference?

4. If the library has online chat reference, ask about the challenges and rewards of the service.

5. Does the library have a mediated searching service (longer one-on-one reference sessions)? If yes, some details.

6. Ask the librarian about his/her most interesting reference transaction.

7. How is there reference dealing with eth pandemic and other issues?

WRITE UP – Now write up your findings; for the written part of the assignment:

Write a coherent 6 page summary describing what you gained from this interview. Include pertinent aspects of what we have covered in the course – e.g., the reference interview process, reference collections, user information needs, etc. Integrate sources into the paper. Yes, you need to use sources from the course and from conducting a review of the literature. 

The following questions may help you to better frame this summary:

a.           Why did you choose this library?

b.           What did you find useful that you can apply to your future reference work, if at all?

c.           What insight did the interviewee give about reference services and resources?

d.           What new strategies or practice did you learn?

e.           Did the interviewee have a balance of theoretical and practical?

f.            What was the best piece of advice you gained from this interview?

g.           Look at the reference section and see if you can find answers to a few of the semester’s       HUNT questions. Describe how is this library’s reference collection is different and/or        similar to the one you have been using on your hunts.

Please attach a list of the interview questions. Cite references using the APA style manual (noted in the syllabus).

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