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Core Reference Fundamentals
An Infopeople Online Learning Course (LSSC approved)
Course Instructor: Francisca Goldsmith
Libraries of all types provide information (reference) services to their users. To provide effective reference requires staff who understand and can apply the underlying values and methods as they assist users in finding the best possible resources to meet their information needs.
- Are you stepping into the role of providing reference assistance for the first time in your library career?
- Is it time to brush up on your basic skills because you are returning to work in a capacity that includes reference work with library users?
- Do you want to be able to quickly identify and locate information in all formats?
Whether you have been recently promoted to support direct information (reference) services, or are returning to reference work some years after you completed your library degree, you’ll need a clear understanding of how to determine the real information need behind users’ questions and where to look for authoritative answers. This course will acquaint you with why, when and how to do an effective reference interview, which resources are best suited to which types of reference questions, how to use both print and web-based resources appropriate to the user’s need, and how reference work fits into the mission of your library. You’ll learn how the physical layout of your library, and signage and shelving for various collections can impact its delivery of information services. You’ll become familiar with alternative methods for delivering information when its needed, such as email, chat and instant messaging, to help your users no matter where they are or when the library is open
Course Description: This online course will provide you with opportunities to learn and practice an effective reference interview, as well as to explore a wide variety of print and web-based tools. Through individual and group exercises, you will discover ways to assist diverse groups of users, including those with physical disabilities and those with whom you do not share a common language. You will learn to think like an indexer and apply that perspective to your information hunting in response to reference questions. We will spend time examining and using a variety of print and web-based resources, as well as specialized resources for government research, and inquiries about images or sounds. The instructor will provide sample policies, templates, tip sheets and a webliography, as well as simple, practical techniques that can be applied immediately.
During the course, you will be doing exercises and participating in discussion forums. There will be one online meeting held as part of the online learning process.
Course Outline: When you log in to the Infopeople online learning site, you will see weekly modules with these topics:
- Week 1: The Reference Interview
- Goals and components of an effective reference interview
- Helping with sensitive questions
- Phrases to incorporate into your reference interview
- Week 2: Library Users’ Rights to Privacy and Open Access
- First Amendment, Library Bill of Rights, and ALA Code of Ethics
- Working across barriers of physical ability or communication skills
- Responding appropriately to library users of different ages
- Week 3: Reference Resources in Your Library
- Building layouts
- Special collections
- Your library’s website
- Making the most of your library’s catalog
- Week 4: Knowledge Management: Indexes
- Comparing and contrasting print and online indexing
- Databases and ready reference work
- Week 5: Evaluating Reference Tools
- Print tools
- Online resources
- Search engines
- Week 6: Contemporary Ready Reference Tools and Delivery Methods
- Multimedia information sources, like Flickr and YouTube
- Government publications (online and in print)
- Niche inquiries from your library’s local community
- Roving, passive vs. active reference services, and remote screen sharing
Time Required: To complete this course, you can expect to spend up to three hours per week, for a total of 18 course hours. Each week's module contains readings, assignments, and discussions; there will be one online meeting held during the six weeks of the course, and the instructor will survey participants as to the most advantageous time to hold it. Although you can work on each module at your own pace, it is recommended that you complete weekly work in the order that they are presented, as the curriculum is designed to build on what you have already gained in knowledge and skill in the previous weeks of the course.
Who Should Take This Course: Anyone from the library community who provides reference service and believes they need to refine their skills. This course is especially geared to paraprofessional staff new to reference work or librarians who need updates on contemporary tools and methods that support excellent library added value information service.
Online Learning Details and System Requirements may be found at: infopeople.org/training/online_learning_details.
After the official end date for the course, the instructor will be available for limited consultation and support for two more weeks, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that. These extra weeks give those who have fallen behind time to work independently to complete the course.
Keywords: Adult services, Reference