[Libs-Or] Drawing the line between reference and advice

Alan Cordle acordle at pcc.edu
Tue Nov 24 15:29:46 PST 2015

One convincing argument for both your staff and patrons might be that there
are paid proofreading and resume writing services. Your staff can refer
patrons to companies/individuals that provide them.

On Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 3:11 PM, Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney <
kbrodbeck-kenney at lincolncity.org> wrote:

> Thea, this is super helpful! I don't know why it didn't occur to me that
> others would cover this in their Reference Services policies. I think your
> idea to develop a policy and then have staff practice making judgment calls
> is a great idea.
> Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney, MLIS
> Library Director
> Driftwood Public Library
> 801 SW Hwy 101, #201
> Lincoln City, OR 97367
> 541-996-1251 (desk)
> 541-996-1262 (fax)
> www.driftwoodlib.org
> >>> EVENSTAD Thea <tevenstad at springfield-or.gov> 11/24/2015 1:15 PM >>>
> Hi Kristen,
> What an interesting question! I’m not sure if you’ve found some helpful
> information yet.
> I found that Rutgers Reference and Information Service page
> <http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/public_service_policies/pspm_02_reference_information_service>
> includes “Service Definitions” that describe what reference service is at
> their institution and their “Service Limitations” have some good ways of
> differentiating between reference service and not-reference service,
> specifically:
> ·         *“Legal, Medical, or Pharmaceutical Advice* - The Libraries
> cannot provide legal, medical, or pharmaceutical advice in response to
> reference queries. Specific information may be read from manuals, but in
> most circumstances users will be referred to sources of information from
> which to draw conclusions.
> ·         *Commercial Products and/or Services* - The Libraries will not
> provide recommendations on commercial products and/or services in response
> to queries but will refer users to sources of information on these topics.”
> Similarly, Aurora Public Library provides a Reference Services Policy
> <http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/policies/reference-services-policy/>
> that states:
> ·         Staff will offer their best professional opinion when providing
> reader’s advisory service or recommending the best source to answer a
> question. Staff will not give opinions, advice, or interpretation of
> information beyond the scope of their expertise and training in library
> reference work.
> I also think the Answerland guidelines for Crisis Calls
> <https://www.answerland.org/help/crisis-calls> may be helpful,
> specifically these two points:
> ·         “If the question is personal, refer the patron to an
> appropriate hotline. As librarians, we don’t have the necessary training to
> assist a patron in crisis, but we can find resources that will help. Links
> for hotline resources are listed below.
> ·         Strike a balance between professional behavior and supportive
> behavior. If the patron is in trouble, we want to be friendly, supportive,
> and approachable, as with all of our patrons. However, remain professional
> and give resources rather than advice.”
> Maybe you could develop your own Reference Service Policy for your
> library, then develop a training where your staff are given scenarios and
> have to decide whether or not what the patron is asking falls within the
> scope of your reference service, as identified by the policy.
> Hope this helps!
> -Thea
> Thea Evenstad
> Librarian and Arts Commission Liaison
> Springfield Public Library
> 225 5th St
> Springfield, OR 97477
> 541-726-2238
> tevenstad at springfield-or.gov
> *From:* Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] *On
> Behalf Of *Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney
> *Sent:* Monday, November 23, 2015 3:04 PM
> *To:* libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
> *Subject:* [Libs-Or] Drawing the line between reference and advice
> I'm wondering if anyone has any good resources for staff training, or even
> good rules of thumb, for drawing a line between reference and advice. For
> example, I've recently had some staff members get drawn into proofreading
> papers, giving advice on resume wording, offering to read and critique
> cover letters, and items of that nature. I feel that one-on-one resume
> advice or proofreading/critiquing a paper crosses a line, much like giving
> medical advice or tax advice, but I'm finding it a bit hard to articulate
> to staff, other than to remind them that our job is to offer resources so
> that people can learn to do things themselves. Thoughts? Advice?
> Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney, MLIS
> Library Director
> Driftwood Public Library
> 801 SW Hwy 101, #201
> Lincoln City, OR 97367
> 541-996-1251 (desk)
> 541-996-1262 (fax)
> www.driftwoodlib.org
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Alan Cordle
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