Reference Work

Types of reference work

Reference work covers four major areas.

  1. Reference
  2. Readersí Advisory
  3. Information and Referral
  4. Research

Each of these is important. The MORE Manual covers Reference and Readersí Advisory skills in some detail.

Information and referral, which involves follow-up by staff to insure that the referral was effective, is usually not practiced by public libraries, but some of you working in special libraries may do this kind of work.

Research is often relegated to academic or special libraries, although many people using public libraries are doing research of one type or another. Patrons in public libraries often conduct genealogy research, for instance, or might work on extensive local history projects. While these patrons might be doing research, the library staff in these public libraries usually will not provide extensive research service for the patrons. They support the patronís work, usually with referral and interlibrary loan, but public libraries often have policies that prevent the library staff from doing long-term research for patrons. With both Information and Referral and Research, it is good to know what your local reference policies allow.

Go to What is a reference transaction?

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This page was last updated on April 21, 2003.