CORE Reference Fundamentals
Fee: $75 for those in the California library community and Infopeople Partners, $150 for all others.
(An Infopeople Online Learning Course)
Tuesday, November 9, 2010 – Monday, December 20, 2010
Libraries of all types provide reference services to their users. To provide effective reference requires staff who understand and can apply the underlying values and methods needed to assist users in finding the best possible resources to meet their information needs.
- Are you stepping into the role of providing reference assistance for the first time in your library career?
- Is it time to brush up on your basic skills because you are returning to work at the reference desk?
- Do you want to be able to quickly identify and locate information in all formats?
Whether you have been recently promoted to support reference services, or are returning to reference work some years after you completed your library degree, you'll need a clear understanding of how to determine the real information need behind users' questions and where to look for authoritative answers. This course will acquaint you with why, when, and how to do an effective reference interview, which resources are best suited to which types of reference questions, how to use both print and Web-based resources appropriate to the user's need, and how reference work fits into the mission of your library. You'll learn how the physical layout of your library, and signage and shelving for various collections can impact reference service. You'll become familiar with alternative methods for delivering reference, such as email, chat and instant messaging, to help your users no matter where they are or when the library is open.
Course Description: This online course will provide you with opportunities to learn and practice an effective reference interview, as well as to explore a wide variety of print and Web-based reference tools. Through individual and group exercises, you will discover ways to assist diverse groups of users, including those with physical disabilities and those with whom you do not share a common language. You will learn to think like an indexer and apply that perspective to answering reference questions. We will spend time examining specialized resources for homework help, government research, and inquiries about images or sounds. The instructor will provide sample policies, templates, tip sheets and a webliography, as well as simple, practical techniques that can be applied immediately.
During the course, you will be doing exercises and taking quizzes. You will also participate in weekly online discussion forums as part of the online learning process.
Preliminary Course Outline: Using your web browser and your Internet connection, you will log in to the Infopeople online learning site and complete the following learning modules:
- Week 1: The Reference Interview
- Goals and components of an effective reference interview
- Helping with sensitive questions
- Phrases to incorporate into your reference interview
- Week 2: Library Users' Rights to Privacy and Open Access
- First Amendment, Library Bill of Rights, and ALA Code of Ethics
- Working across barriers of physical ability or communication skills
- Responding appropriately to library users of different ages
- Week 3: Reference Resources in Your Library
- Building layouts
- Special collections
- Your library's website
- The structure of your library's catalog
- Week 4: Construction and Use of Indexes
- Comparing and contrasting print and online indexing
- Databases and ready reference work
- Week 5: Evaluating Reference Tools
- Print tools
- Online resources
- Search engines
- Week 6: Contemporary Ready Reference Tools and Delivery Methods
- Nontraditional reference sources, like Flickr and YouTube
- Government publications (online and in print)
- Niche inquiries, including homework, sports, and celebrities
- Roving, passive versus active reference services, for profit reference businesses
Time required: To complete this course, you can expect to spend 3 hours per week over 6 weeks, for a total of 18 hours. You can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night. However, it is recommended that you complete each week's assignments within that week to stay in sync with other learners.
Who Should Take This Course: Anyone from the library community who provides reference service. This course is appropriate for paraprofessional staff new to reference work or librarians who need updates on contemporary tools and methods that support excellent reference service.
Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC): This course is approved as covering the Reference and Information Services competencies for the LSSC program.
Online Learning Details and System Requirements may be found at
Course Start: This 6-week-long online learning course starts on Tuesday November 9, 2010.
After the official end date for the course, the instructor will be available for limited consultation and support for two more weeks, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that. These extra weeks give those who have fallen behind time to work independently to complete the course.
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