Question Analysis & Referral Standards
Evaluate Patron Questions. We work with patrons to identify their real information needs and
make sure their needs are met. This means we:
- Allow patrons to ask their entire question in their own words before responding.
- Use open and closed question to clarify users' information needs.
- Break complex questions and problems into parts.
- Confirm our understanding of a patron's request.
- Follow up and confirm the patron's question was answered.
Refer Questions. When we can't find the answer to a patron's question, we always refer the question. This means we:
- Know when to refer complex questions and subject requests for information that require a reference librarian and answers from reference resources.
- First, refer patrons to the general reference desk within your library, no matter what the subject of the inquiry.
- If your library's reference desk is closed, refer patrons next to the reference desk at another Rutgers library.
- While the patron is with you, telephone the other library's reference or circulation desk and verbally confirm the availability of a resource or person to help before directing the patron to travel. Do not ask patrons to drive or take a bus to another library without calling first. If the patron plans to travel at a later time, verify the library's hours on the Web with the patron.
- During times when all Rutgers reference desks are closed, refer the patron as appropriate: to Ask a Librarian, Q&A New Jersey, or to return when the reference desk is open.
- Gauge response time required by the patron.
- Provide patrons with the name, phone number, and email address of a subject librarian when a patron's question clearly requires subject or language expertise, or when a subject specialist is requested by a patron. Advise the patron to telephone or email the subject librarian for an appointment.
- Refer patrons to another university department or office as appropriate.
August 2006; rev. fFbruary 2007