Patrons and Community Needs

Overcoming barriers

The reference process begins even before the patron enters the library. People have preconceived ideas of what libraries can and can't do, and of what librarians are like. This may keep some people from coming to the library at all when they have an information need.

Once people are in the library, it may be hard for them to tell you what they need. The patron may not speak English well, may be afraid to ask a "dumb" question, may not be familiar with libraries, or may not know how to clearly express a need.

Show a willingness to help! A caring attitude transcends any language barrier!

Try to be alert to barriers to communication such as:

Go to Making people comfortable.

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This page was updated on October 8, 2003.