Reference Work

What is reference? Why is it important?

The goal of reference service is to meet people's information needs. Reference service includes finding out what information people need and using library resources to provide that information.

Libraries have many roles to play, but a library's reference service is especially valuable to the community it serves because of the unique characteristics of library service. Libraries promote free and equal access to information, understanding that an informed citizenry is the foundation of a vibrant, democratic society.

The library must reach out to people who have information needs, but have not thought of using the library. The library must also take steps to assure that all who do contact the library are made to feel welcome and at ease using the library. Only in this way will the library fulfill its larger mission.

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This page was last updated on August 5, 2003.