Reality at the Reference Desk
Student Requests Are Time-Bound
“Reference Interview” theory in the classroom will prepare you very well for in depth and quality reference service. Real reference transactions are quick or depend on the imminent deadline, class, dinner, or what have you. I try to feel this out in the first minute of the transaction and navigate from there.
So, about the printer…
Get ready to get to know your library’s printing environment really quickly. In my first Reference shift I learned that “reference” can be 40% helping patrons print or save properly and get on with their day.
Which can be awesome, if you make it awesome by approaching the question with the same commitment to access to technology as you would to do to access to information. I like to walk the patron to the machine, hear what they experienced and compare it to expected behavior, and walk them through the rest of the process. Again, there is a certain amount of situation reading here. What is their comfort level? Can you meet them there and gently nudge them further to learn something or feel more confident? The same principles of reference service and information literacy applies here.