Friday, May 05, 2006

Reference Interview, The

Part of being a good reference librarian is being able to understand what patrons mean when they ask their questions. Often, the patron doesn't express their information need in a clear and concise manner... thus the need for a reference interview.

For example: A patron may ask, "What languages did the Vikings speak?" In his mind, he has communicated what he thinks is a clear information need. The librarian, however, can interpret his real information need to be, "How can I tell if I'm wearing too much cologne?"

The librarian's mission is now two-fold: a) find languages spoken by Vikings and b) let this guy know he is burning the hairs out of your nose. The first part is easy. The second may require some finesse. Be a good librarian and cough, gag, put your hand over your nose, or ask him to wait outside while you search for his answer. If he doesn't get the hint, light a match and see if he bursts into flames.

6 comments:

Jenn Graham said...

I have been reading this blog for a long time now, and this has to be one of my favorite posts ever. It's Friday afternoon, the sun is shining, and I'm still working. What's wrong with this picture? At least I am laughing. :)

Anonymous said...

Ha! Your blog makes life worthwhile!

Anonymous said...

When a researcher approaches your desk at 4:55 on Friday (when you lock your doors at 5:00) for a 5 minute question followed by a 10 minute explanation of why the research for a project due at 9am on Monday was not done earlier, you are required to remind them every 90 seconds while you are helping them find this easily available information that you are helping them out of the kindness of your cold, dead information professional heart.

Idun said...

it's not the cologne that kills me, it's the five packs of cigarettes between showers stench - ewww.

Anonymous said...

Between Showers??? You're lucky they take showers. How about the 20 packs of cigarettes and the 10 days since they last brushed their teeth combined with a hint of alcohol.

Now we're just getting mean. . .

Anonymous said...

Just meet them outside and take them behind the woodshed. You are off the clock and no longer a librarian it is now time for Fight Club. Show that you can kick some us and instead of being some pathetic worm. Be man and if you are a woman wear your ovaries on the outside. Kick some ass.