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READ (Reference Effort Assessment Data) Scale©

UCI Libraries' definitions for READ scale (general reference)

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Reference Effort Assessment Data



  • Answers that require only “pointing” users to a resource.  (Any interaction beyond that in which we ask any question becomes a level 2+)
  • That resource could be anything:  stapler, restroom, call number sign, SC&A, libguide, webpage.                                                                                               
  • Does NOT require interpreting a question (e.g. a user’s affiliation with UCI.)

How to print, in any iteration, is always a level 1.
Service point locations, study rooms, and hours. 
Rudimentary machine assistance.


  • Answers that require some minimal interpretive reference interaction.
  • Consulting policy pages administered by library staff.  (Broadly speaking, we define a policy page as something administered by library staff that does NOT connect a user to reference resources.)
  • Consulting catalogs (UC Library Search and WorldCat Discovery, etc.), and libguides.

Where is the book with X title? 
Borrowing / ILL / Course Reserves/ Lost shelf items. 
Directing a user to a specific LibGuide, without suggesting content within it. 
Minor equipment assistance:  Wireless printing, WI-FI setup.


  • Not necessarily an “answer” but enabling a user to find their own information. 
  • Consult a single reference resource/interface. This is regardless of whether the resource is “scholarly,” or “primary source,” or “popular”, etc.  Can include catalogs, e.g. UC Library Search and WorldCat Discovery.
  • Requires generating at least one topical keyword search in a reference resource, whether the librarian or the user generates the keyword(s). 
  • Assisting users in, defining, clarifying, focusing, or broadening search topics.
  • A question you readily know that cannot be answered.

Where is the book on X subject? 
WR60 topics

FOUR    (normally this would be the maximum that people do in an on-the-desk shift.) 

  • The definition includes everything in Level 3, plus:
  • Consulting multiple (two or more) reference resources.
  • Subject specialists may need to be consulted, and/or referrals may be made.

WR60 topics


  • The subject liaison readily knows how to point their users to information, but it may take some effort, and requires consulting multiple resources. 
  • For interdisciplinary research, other internal subject liaisons may be consulted/referred. 
  • More substantial effort spent assisting with research and finding information.
  • Efforts are cooperative in nature, between the user and librarian and/or working with colleagues, internal to the institution. 
  • Dialogue between the user and librarian may take on a 'back and forth question' dimension.

Looking for a list of how often a particular journal has been cited over the last 50 years.


  • The subject liaison does not readily know how to point their users to information.
  • May require consulting with subject specialist colleagues, in the same discipline, at external institutions. 
  • May require consulting with vendors for specialized knowledge of their resources.
  • Collaboration and on-going research with faculty. In this case, each interaction in the research process could be marked as a 6.
  • Questions that seem very out of the ordinary, information-gathering, text-mining, and such.

Consulting with a vendor on behalf of a professor on how to extract a large amount of data from a database.

Record Data to RefStats