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Library Student Assistant Guide

This guide is for the Library Student Assistants

What is a Referral?

A referral is an act of sending someone to a person or place for further consultation or action.  In other words, when a library user has a level 2 question, you will refer them to a librarian. 

Librarians are trained to help people use library resources to find information.  We love helping students do research and to teach them about information literacy.  We want to be interrupted to help our library users.  Please interrupt us.

Remember our motto: If the question is hardcore, dial 9874!!!

What Types of Questions Should I Attempt to Answer? (Level 1 Questions)

  1. Initial reference interview.  What is the patron looking for?  What do they need?
  2. Assisting with technical issues.  Examples:
    1. How do you indent a page in Microsoft Word?
    2. How do I print?
  3. Searching for an information source that a library user already knows something about and is trying to locate.  Examples:
    1. I need the Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance.
    2. I’m looking for past issues of National Geographic.
  4. Searching for books in the Library Catalog and locating them on the shelf.
  5. Identifying appropriate research guides, library tutorials, and help materials.
  6. Questions about Library Services.
  7. Referrals to other College services and departments.

What Types of Questions Should I Refer? (Level 2 Questions)

You will need to conduct a reference interview with the library user to determine what their needs are and if you can help them or will need a librarian.  You should refer the following types of questions:

  1. Any question that is not clearly a Level 1 question.
  2. Question about a research topic and finding sources.  Example:
    1. I’m doing a paper on how Hip Hop has influenced American Culture and I need 3 sources.
    2. I’m doing research on how binge-watching TV affects our brains and I can’t find anything.
  3. Questions about researching in databases.
    1. My instructor said I need to find an article in a library database, but I can’t find anything.
  4. Questions that take more than 10 minutes.  If it’s taking a long time to answer a question, it could be time to ask for help.

How to Make A Referral

Let the library user know that you believe a librarian would be able to best help them with this question.  If the librarian on duty is not available at the reference desk:

  1. Call the librarian’s office by pushing the librarian’s office speed button or dialing 9874.
  2. Call the library manager, Michele by dialing 9822.
  3. If no one is available, take the patron’s name, email address and/or phone number.  Write a detailed message of what the patron needs and a librarian will get back to them as soon as they can.
  4. You can also refer them to email or using the Chat with a Librarian service.

Referral content adapted from Loyola University Chicago:

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