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

Marta Murvosh murvosh at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 27 14:24:34 PST 2015

Ms. Brodbeck-Kenney,

I'm wondering if it would help to find ways to make your staff feel more comfortable in directing job-seeking patrons to the appropriate library and community resources for job-seekers. Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say when a patron is wheedling: "I just need you to check my spelling. It will only take  you a minute."  
Not knowing your staff, I don't know the best approach for them. Here's a few suggestions:
- Remind staff of the library's role to encourage and support life-long learning, including helping locate resources to develop and grow job-seeking skills. 

- Remind staff: While it may seem simple to "just proof" a cover letter, it's not. Providing resources for employment, medical, tax or legal questions can have a huge impact on a patron's life. It's important to empower patrons with resources to make their own decisions about these important matters. 

- Increase staff's knowledge of the free library and community resources available for job seekers. Ask staff to explore them as they would any other database and then start suggesting these resources to job seekers. It's a good opportunity to review resources like:   
   - Job & Career Accelerator in LearningExpress Library, especially the resume builder and the section that describes different professions, which can be used to improve vocabulary. Create a log-in for the reference desk to demo this service.
   - WorkSource Oregon Basic Skills page and Advanced Skills page with reading, grammar and writing    

   - GCFLearnFree.org Work and Career page 

- Develop talking points to help staff think on their feet to direct patrons to appropriate resources. Maybe brainstorm with staff different ways to refer to appropriate resources. I try to zero in on what the patron needs and focusing my referral on that need. Here's some examples:   
   - (Response to a request for proof read.) I always have to look words up to make sure I'm spelling things correctly. Let me get you a dictionary and show you how to use Microsoft Word's spelling and grammar check. The program is not perfect so definitely print it out and read it under your breath a few times, which is a great way to catch typos.    

   - If you have a few days before you need to send this out, you should stop by WorkSource and ask them to review it. They are the real experts of what companies are looking for. They also have a class on resumes and cover letters.    

   - (Response to a request for feedback on content.) I'm not familiar with that profession and the requirements of this type job. I'd hate to steer you wrong. Can I show you the federal Occupational Outlook Handbook website where we can find great descriptions of this type of job. You can use those descriptions and the job posting to help write your own resume/cover letter. (I coach them in locating Occupational Outlook Handbook's job descriptions to find key words.)    

   - (For patrons who have more time.) Do you know about our Job & Career Accelerator (LearningExpress Library.) It has a resume builder and descriptions of numerous professions and job titles. You'll need to create a login. I can give you an overview. It's also great practice for online applications.    

   - (When a patron says, I just don't know what to write.) I have some great books on writing cover letters/writing resumes. There's a short section that asks questions that can help you brainstorm what's important to say and help you figure out the best way to say it. It also has examples of cover letters/resumes for dozens of profession. Let me get that book and show you those pages.(Show the section of the chapter, not the entire book so you don't overwhelm.    

   - We've been hearing from WorkSource and employers in the community that it's really important for job-seekers to to grow their written communication skills. There are free online tutorials that you can find on the library's website at  LearningExpress Library, at WorkSource website, GCFLearnFree.org. 

-Ask someone at Worksource Lincoln City office to give a 15-minute presentation at a library staff meeting about their services, such as reviewing cover letters and resumes. Maybe there's an opportunity depending on your community needs for a  partnership with Worksource Oregon and the library?
- When I'm in the 600s, I try to glance at the 650s so I'm aware of what cover letter, resume, etc. books are on the shelf. (I'm big fan of the Knock 'em Dead job search books because it's easy to flip through and find things for patrons fast.) This might be a suggestion for your staff so they can feel confident in finding what patrons need quickly.   

- I'm spoiled at my system. we have BrainFuse's HelpNow which besides Live Homework Help seven days a week, there is a writing workshop for adults where they can upload resumes and cover letters and get feedback. I'm a teen librarian and I love, love, love this database because it helps people of all ages be more successful. It may be worth investigating if you have a heavy demand for resume proofing and helping with homework.

I hope this is helpful. 

And to honor my library system's policy: These are my opinions and not my library systems or any of the publications I freelance for. :-)  


 Marta Murvosh, MLS
librarian and freelance writer
murvosh at yahoo.com360-610-9642 - mobile
Everett, WA - Pacific Time zone
Linkedin - Facebook - Website
   From: Tony <tony_greiner at hotmail.com>
 To: "libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us" <libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us> 
 Sent: Thursday, November 26, 2015 1:42 PM
 Subject: [Libs-Or] Drawing the Line between Reference and Advice
Good on your staff for doing what they can to help people!  I don't understand how a profession that says it will help people, and requires (usually) a master's degree to get an entry level job can then turn around and say "Don't proof-read papers for people who don't have your level of education!  Don't help someone get a job by critiquing their resume!  Don't give simple tax advice to someone who just needs a 1040-EZ!  You don't have the education.
If you don't have the education to do that, you shouldn't be at a reference desk.
Tony the Radical

Primo and Alma: Making WorldCat Local Look Good**tony_greiner at hotmail.com** 

   From: Alan Cordle <acordle at pcc.edu>
 To: Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney <kbrodbeck-kenney at lincolncity.org> 
Cc: "libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us" <libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>
 Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2015 3:29 PM
 Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Drawing the line between reference and advice
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, MLISLibrary DirectorDriftwood Public Library801 SW Hwy 101, #201Lincoln City, OR 97367541-996-1251 (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 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 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 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 EvenstadLibrarian and Arts Commission LiaisonSpringfield Public Library225 5th StSpringfield, OR 97477541-726-2238tevenstad 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, MLISLibrary DirectorDriftwood Public Library801 SW Hwy 101, #201Lincoln City, OR 97367541-996-1251 (desk)541-996-1262 (fax)www.driftwoodlib.org If this is an unsolicited spam message, please click this link to report it: Report Spam
Libs-Or mailing list
Libs-Or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Hosted by the Oregon State Library. The Library is not responsible for content.
Questions related to message content should be directed to list owner(s) or the sender of the message, by phone or email.
Technical questions? Call 503-378-8800.

Alan Cordle
Libs-Or mailing list
Libs-Or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Hosted by the Oregon State Library. The Library is not responsible for content.
Questions related to message content should be directed to list owner(s) or the sender of the message, by phone or email.
Technical questions? Call 503-378-8800.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://omls.oregon.gov/pipermail/libs-or/attachments/20151127/859ce6d8/attachment.html>

More information about the Libs-Or mailing list