Skip to Main Content

Reference, Instruction, and Outreach (RIO)

Guide to provide a forum to learn and share ideas about the various aspects of library reference, instruction, and outreach.

Meeting Notes

The group discussed difficult reference interviews and patron interactions.

Some of the discussed topics:

Types of reference interviews - one-on-one, referrals, appointments, a staff member at the reference desk, etc.

Reference desk tips - multiple staff at high traffic times, having a 'buzzer' to summon additional staff if there is a line forming. Online chat is used for reference by some academics as well - average time per chat varies. An extra terminal for reference staff can help them with online tools they need for themselves while using a separate monitor to show results to patrons.

Extra challenges can be posed by patrons who are special needs, elderly, people with health anxiety, or who consider certain staff members to 'be theirs' (it was mentioned that giving out staff schedules can make this worse). Language issues as well as different cultures can also make patrons more challenging.

It was discussed whether it was productive to have best practice discussions among staff, having regularly scheduled 'staff huddles', or patron interaction 'scripts'. 

The need for more extreme actions for problem patrons were also mentioned, including incident reports and bans.

© 2024 | Capital District Library Council
800 Troy Schenectady Rd, Latham New York 12110
Phone: 518-438-2500