Please remember that to the library user or visitor, you represent the library. We will all be judged by your actions. Therefore, do all you can to maintain a positive public image.
USU Libraries is a professional working environment where the goal is to help our users meet their academic, research, and computing needs. The dress, bearing, and behavior of our personnel should reflect this important service.
Remember that many people are new to large academic libraries. The library can be very intimidating. Even the most basic question, while routine to us, is important to the person asking it. Respect the patron's level of experience and their desire to learn more. Be patient and sympathetic.
Appear approachable and professional.
Semi-professional dress is required. Please dress appropriately.
Phones should be answered, "Merrill-Cazier Library Reference Desk, how may I help you?"
Listen to the question.
Active listening is an important part of our job. Be sure to listen to the whole question; don't assume you know what the patron wants after listening for a few seconds. Do not interrupt the person as they are asking their question. If the question seems strange or weird to you, don't laugh or comment. Ask courteously for clarification if you need it.
When answering a question, communicate what you are doing.
If you're working with someone on a computer or reference question, write down what you've told them - this could include names of databases, websites, a person's name and phone number, the title of a book or journal. Write down the steps you took in answering a question so the user can go back and repeat the search on their own.
Avoid using library or technical jargon.
Remember that not everyone is familiar with technology in libraries, or libraries in general. If you have to use library jargon or a technical term, be sure to explain the term.
Who is in the library? If you see a patron a approaching the desk, turn to them and look at them. You might smile and ask “How may I help you?” This lets them know you are focused on them and that you are interested in being of assistance.
If you don't know the answer, ask a staff member, another LPM or a librarian if they know the answer or how to find the answer.
We all have different levels of knowledge about our resources, technology, and subjects. One great thing about working at USU Libraries is that you can always depend on staff and the librarians to help you if you don't know how to find something. The key is to ask when you need help!
When referring patrons to another library service desk or even somewhere else on campus, be sure to tell them why.
Referring a question to a librarian does not mean you don't know how to do research or that you are unfamiliar with technology. The more you refer and listen to how the librarians work with patrons to find the right type of information they need, the more you will learn about research and evaluation of resources and information. This in turn will help you in your own coursework.
*Remember, a referral is not a failure.*
When you've finished helping the patron, make sure there is nothing else they need, and let them know they can come back for help.
Ask questions such as:
If the patron seems frustrated or unsatisfied, please ask the patron: "Would you like to speak to a librarian?" Please ask this question even if we are sitting at the desk with you.
Do what you can to satisfy the patron's needs or requests. If you cannot help the patron, tell him or her where and how they can obtain more help — direct them to the "Ask a Librarian" web page, provide a subject specialist's phone number, or give directions to the Circulation desk when appropriate.
Our goal is never to let the patron walk away from the desk without some kind of answer. This could be five articles they were looking for, or a call number range where they can browse for a book, or a name and phone number of a person in another library department who can help them.
Interlibrary Services (ILS/ILL/Resource Sharing and Document Delivery)
Special Collections and Archives (SCA)
Media Collection & Reserves
Serials (Journals & Newspapers Desk)
Reference & Instruction
Circulation – check out books, iPads or laptops; rent lockers
Document delivery – get PDFs of articles or book chapters we own sent to you
Library instruction – learn how to do research during class; usually classes (English, Education, Engnieering, etc.) come to the library for these librarian-led sessions
Reference – get research help at the Info Desk, or set up a consultation with a librarian-expert
Subject librarians – consult with a librarian who specializes in your major; we have subject librarians for every major at USU
Topographic maps/topo maps – print out a detailed giant backcountry map in Government Documents
Course Reserves – borrow course material for three hours at a time (if your instructor has placed items on reserve)
Interlibrary loan – request items the library doesn’t own; interlibrary services will borrow them from another library just for you
Special Collections – discover unique and historical materials in the library’s archives; while you cannot checkout these items, you can often easily scan them
Adapted from the Leavey Library, Student Navigation Assistant Manuals University of Southern California
July 2015: Updated by Nathalie De La Cruz & Andrea Krebs