Reference Competencies

Approachability/nonverbal communication

Establishes initial climate that facilitates open communication

Is able to convey the image of professional and friendly library service in contacts with others

Is cheerful, tactful, respectful of patrons



Is able to clearly present ideas and factual information in oral communication

Is able to listen carefully

Is able to use nonverbal communication effectively

Is able to use questionnaires and discussion techniques

Is able to conduct meetings with individuals and groups both within and outside the library

Is able to clearly express concepts and information in writing in well-organized and good grammatical form

Is able to work with all users (all ages, multicultural, physically challenged, etc.)




Is able to use interviewing techniques to determine the individual's information needs


Telephone, e-mail

Is able to balance the need for efficiency and friendliness in telephone reference transactions

Is able to interpret and or summarize information accurately for telephone reference transactions

Is able to communicate clearly and succinctly in 3-mail reference transactions



Is able to construct a competent and complete search strategy

Is able to break the query into specific facets

Identifies other qualifiers of the query that may limit results, such as date, language, comprehensiveness, etc.

Selects search terms that are most related to the information desired, using print and electronic thesauri needed

Is able to use searching protocol and command terms of most commonly-used databases

Is familiar with most used Web search tools

Is able to decide whether a print or electronic search is more appropriate

Identifies sources appropriate to the patron's need that have the highest probability of containing information relevant to the patron's query, consulting guides, databases, or other librarians as needed

Is able to interpret and evaluate information sources as needed by the patron

Is able to work with the patron in narrowing or broadening the topic when too little or too much information is identified

Is able to use specific features, such as footnotes and bibliographies


Knowledge of sources

Is familiar with the most commonly used information resources, both print and electronic

Is familiar with various schemes for organizing information and library materials

Is familiar with the literature of various subject area, especially those of primary interest to patrons

Is able to identify appropriate resources for referral

Is able to match the best available information resource to the information need

Is able to use criteria for evaluating sources and teach others how to evaluate sources

Is able to identify and evaluate new resources, whether or not purchased

Seeks to learn information resources

Is able to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of at least one subject area or discipline


User knowledge

Is familiar with community demographic, social, economic, and political information

Is able to identify needs specific to the community

Is able to analyze information needs of patrons

Is able to anticipate future needs based on knowledge of community

Is familiar with information-seeking strategies most commonly used by patrons

Is able to determine how much information a patron can use



Is able to teach individuals how to use information sources, both print and electronic

Explains how to use sources when the patron show an interest

Is able to use bibliographic instruction and information literacy concepts and techniques appropriate for specific groups

Is able to train and develop staff

Is able to teach individuals how to choose the best information source for specific questions


Referral, follow-up

Is able to determine if each transaction is completed to the satisfaction of the patron

Is able to refer the patron to a more appropriate library, librarian, or other resource when needed



Knows when to accept or delegate responsibility

Is able to set, modify, and follow through priorities

Is able to identify problems, research relevant information, identify possible causes of problems, and suggest workable solutions

Is able to manage time efficiently

Uses appropriate measurement and evaluation methods

Is able to work with individuals, local media, and other groups using appropriate techniques to promote reference service

Is able to organize a project from planning through implementation and evaluation



Is informed about available and emerging technologies and their application to reference work

Is able to use all hardware available in the local reference department

Can do troubleshooting and repair of minor hardware problems

Is able to communicate and cooperate with computer staff to facilitate user access

Is able to design and implement a basic web page


Misc. other

Is committed to maintaining a high standard of personal and professional ethics

Is committed to defending the right of patrons to intellectual freedom in their pursuit of knowledge

Is committed to protecting the patron's right to privacy in his search for information

Participates in educational activities to improve job performance

Is committed to the best possible service for all patrons

Is intellectually curious and well read







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