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LibAnswers and LibCal information for Reference Providers

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Some basics

General Rules and Etiquette

  1. Since there is a live person waiting at the other “end” for your answer you may feel a fair amount of pressure to answer immediately. Be careful not to let this cause you to overlook some important aspects of the patron’s question.

  2. Keep the patron engaged in the conversation.

  3. Check-in with them regularly (e.g., “Let me check…”, “I am still checking…”, “Not there…let me check another place…”)

  4. Try to break up long messages (e.g., “First you will do this…”, “Next type the search terms…”)

  5. If you feel comfortable doing this and it's appropriate, use the patron’s name when addressing him/her.

  6. Use brief statements and confirmations (e.g., “Any questions?” “Does this help answer your question?” "Does this make sense?")

  7. Be polite, show interest, and “listen.”

  8. Answer with a positive, friendly, empathetic tone. Feel free to use smiley faces (If you feel comfortable doing this and it's appropriate) and friendly statements.

  9. Some sessions can become quite lengthy. Use your judgment as to when it is time to refer the patron to an offline source (e.g., a subject specialist, local reference desk, etc.)

 (Adapted from the Ask a Librarian Handbook at UCI)