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Access Services Staff: Making referrals and looking up known titles

Some Guidelines

How do you know when to answer a patron's question and when to refer it to a librarian?

This can be tricky since a simple interaction can sometimes turn complex, and questions can lead to more questions. Just remember, when in doubt ask a librarian!

Here are the types of questions you should be able to answer:

  • Directional questions:  On the home page of this guide is a list of questions you should be able to answer.  They are typically times when a patron simply needs to be directed to a location in the library or to a service on the library's website.
    • How many books can I check out?
    • Do you have a stapler?
    • Where are the restrooms?
    • How do I reserve the Lake Effect Conference Room?
    • I'm not affiliated with the campus and I need to be logged into a computer.
    • I want to shoot a video in the library.  Is that ok?
  • Known title questions: When a patron needs help finding a book and they know the title or author. (Read the sections of this guide titled 'Finding Books'  for more information).
    • I'm looking for the book, "Heart of Darkness". Does Penfield have that book and, if so, where is it?

And here are the types of questions that you should refer to a librarian:

  • Complex reference questions: Patrons looking for information about a particular topic or for guidance about how to define or use scholarly resources should be referred to the Librarian. For example:
    • I need books about...
    • I need scholarly articles about...
    • I'm looking for statistics about...
    • How can I tell if this book or article is scholarly?
    • I need help with citing my sources.

Here are the types of questions that you should refer to the Computer Lab Assistant:

  • Technology questions:
    • How to I print something?
    • How do I . . .  in Word? 
    • How do I add prints to my quota?
    • How do I get my laptop on the wireless?

Making Referrals

Here are some helpful guidelines for referrals you may need to make:

  • For General library policy issues and building issues:
  • For Reference questions
    • ​Refer person to the librarian at the Research Help Desk.
    • If there isn't a librarian scheduled at the Research Help Desk:
      • Tell the person to come back when there is a librarian - Tell/Show them the Research Help Desk hours.
      • Encourage person to make a research consultation.
      • Point them to AskUs24/7
      • For desperate people, call on a librarian anyway if it is a time of day when one would be here.
  • For questions about specific ILL requests
  • For a specific subject librarian
  • For printing, basic MS Office questions, wireless connection, and laptop issues
    • ​Refer person to Computer Lab Assistant (x1069), CTS Help Desk in 26 Lanigan (x3456)
  • For multimedia creation and technology

There are a number of online forms that patrons can be referred to for a variety of library services. See the next section about contact request forms, including forms for making room reservations.

Try This

Referrals to Librarians

Question Skills

Think about these techniques when asking questions:

  • Paraphrasing
    • "So you're saying that..."
  • Asking open-ended questions
    • "Tell me more about what you mean by..."
  • Clarifying
    • "You said you are looking for books. Did you mean both print and electronic books?"
  • Verifying
    • "Is this what you are looking for?"
  • Getting all the needed information
    • "Do you have everything you need or do you need more sources?"



Ask a Librarian