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5.9 REFERENCE AND INFORMATION SERVICES

Barry-Lawrence Regional Library is committed to providing accurate information and materials in an efficient, courteous, and timely manner. The Library strives to make available to patrons of all ages responsible and accessible resources to fulfill their informational, educational, cultural, technical and recreational needs.


All patrons seeking information assistance will be treated equally regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, ability, language proficiency, ethnicity, or social or economic status.


Staff will respect and protect the confidential and private nature of requests for information at all times. Names and identification of patrons and the transactions which occur between customers and staff are confidential and not discussed outside of a professional context.


Requests will generally be handled in the order in which they are received. Requests submitted by patrons in the Library are given priority over telephone requests that are received at the same time. Staff members will attempt to answer questions at the time the request is made and to work within the patron’s time requirements.


Staff will not give opinions, advice, or interpretation of information beyond the scope of their expertise and training in library reference work. When answering a patron’s reference question, staff will cite the resource(s) from which the information is obtained. The producers of that resource, not the Library itself, are responsible for that resource’s accuracy. The staff will decide when all reasonable resource options have been exhausted at the Library and when it is time to cease working on a question and refer the patron elsewhere.


The staff will assist the customer in finding information and will provide instruction on how to use Library resources based upon the customer’s needs.


Guidelines:

· Quick Reference—Immediate answers to questions using resources readily available in the Library. Staff will assist users in locating additional information, and may provide informal instruction on the use of Library resources and search tools.

· In Depth—Answers to question that require a longer search process and involve the use of multiple resources to arrive at an appropriate outcome. Staff will assist customers in defining their information needs and identify numerous resources. A variety of methods may be used to arrive at an appropriate outcome. The amount of time required will be determined by the user’s specific needs, availability of staff and time constraints.

· Reader’s Advisory—Answers to questions that attempt to connect readers with the books they will enjoy and are interested in reading.

· In Person or by Telephone—Staff provide information service in person or by telephone. In person or telephone requests for information are completed in the order they are received. In order to ensure efficiency staff may take the name and telephone number of the user submitting the request by telephone and will respond to the patron’s question in a timely manner.

· Referral—If an information request cannot be fulfilled using resources available at the Library, staff should refer patron(s) to another source, and if necessary assist them in contacting that source. Staff will make every effort to fulfill information requests using resources available in the Library before referring users to other external sources.

· Library Instruction and Orientation—Staff will familiarize patrons with all Library services and provide them with instruction in the use of Library materials and equipment, the public access catalog, databases, and other e-resources provided by the Library. The level of assistance provided by staff will depend on the needs of the patron as well as staff availability and resources.

· Technical—Staff will assist as they are able in helping patrons with computer applications or electronic reading/listening devices and may refer patrons to appropriate books, online tutorials, or classes for further assistance. When assisting patrons with computer resources, staff will not enter personal information for patrons.

· Local History and Genealogy—Staff will provide assistance in locating items in the collection and help in obtaining resources through microfilm and electronic resources to answer genealogy and local history questions. If more extensive research is required the patron will be referred to the local historical society. Please note that not all branch locations have local history or genealogy materials.

· Medical or Legal Questions—The Library does not provide advice in the areas of medicine or law. Staff will provide information but should not interpret or evaluate that information. They will provide instruction in the use of resources, enabling patrons to pursue information independently and effectively if so desired. If the patron has trouble understanding the source provided, an alternative source may be sought. If no appropriate sources can be located, the patron will be referred to local legal or medical services for interpretation of the information.

· Mathematical and Technical Calculations—Staff will provide formulas or equations needed to do a computation if found in an authoritative source. Staff will not do the computation since there may be a risk of error or misunderstanding.

· Tax Forms and Questions—Staff will not give tax advice. They will provide resources but will not interpret or evaluate the information found in these resources. Patrons will be referred to volunteer tax assistance programs or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Library does not stock state or federal forms.

· Personal Care Assistance—Staff are not permitted to act as personal attendants for patrons unable or unwilling to perform routine tasks, including personal tasks for themselves. Staff will show patrons how to use equipment, but patrons are expected to physically use the equipment themselves, or have someone with them who can perform such tasks. Staff will not proofread or compose reports, letters, resumes, etc. for patrons.

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