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I.     Reference Service

Reference Service is provided by the Reference staff with guidance from the Reference Mission Statement and Goals, and vision from the Reference and Information Services Librarian.

A.     Mission Statement

The mission of the Reference Department is to support the missions of the University and the Stewart Library. Within this structure it is the mission of Reference and Information Services to facilitate - with the highest possible degree of excellence - access to the informational content of the Stewart Library collections, the collections of other libraries, and additional information sources. Reference and Information Services supports the University's instructional program through quality informal instruction at the reference desk.

B.     Goals

GOAL #1 Continuously upgrading information access;

Reference and Informational Services shall continuously endeavor to be informed of all new media that may enhance patron access to information and systematically evaluate those media for their appropriateness in accessing Stewart Library collections and the collections of other libraries.

GOAL #2 Continuously improving one-to-one service;

The reference and information services staff are committed to continuously improving the success of, and patron satisfaction with, the quality of direct personal service at the reference desk.

GOAL #3 Continuously teaching the patrons to help themselves.

Whenever possible, the reference staff will provide thoughtful guidance in the pursuit of information, making reference service a learning experience, rather than just expediently providing the information.

C.     Five Year Vision

GOAL #1 Continuously upgrading information access;

1.     Continuous review of the Reference Collection to insure the resources there are serving the curriculum and research needs of the WSU community with the most current and accurate books or media available.

a.     In conjunction with the Automation Team, assess the benefits of various compact disk services - which should include technologies distributed as part of the Government Printing Office depository program - in relationship to present hard copy services, or present compact disk services.

b.     Integration of specifically selected government documents - according to a list of specific criteria - into the Reference Collection.

2.     Annual review and update of the Government Documents Acquisiton Profile to better serve the curriculum and research needs of the WSU community.

3.    Develop an awareness of the Reference and Information needs of the physically challenged and continuously implement those services identified in subpoints #1 and #2.

a.     Begin and continue a dialog with the Office for Services to the Physically Challenged

b.     Through survey, or other instrument, determine the reference needs of the physically challenged and the best means of fulfilling those needs.

4.     Database Searching Services

a.     Develop - through training - a level of comfort that enables reference staff to recognize when a Database Search is appropriate and to comfortably suggest this alternative to patrons.

b.     To develop, implement and continuously improve a Database Search Policy that recognizes the essential nature of online information and promotes easy access to it.

  1. Enhance end-user search services. (see Goal #4, Continuously teaching the patrons to help themselves.)
  2. Provide library subsidized database searches to faculty and students.
GOAL #2 Continuously improving one-to-one service;

1.     Methodically and continuously assess the Reference and information needs of the WSU community.

2.     Annual evaluation of reference service quality

a.     Unobtrusive assessment by a peer group to:

  1. establish the baseline of present reference service quality
  2. demonstrate the continuous improvement of the service

b.     Obtrusive assessment by reference patrons to:

  1. establish the baseline of present reference service quality
  2. demonstrate the continuous improvement of the service
3.     Develop a staff person education program

a.     Encourage ongoing reference staff education

  1. Regular in-house training
  2. WSU classes
  3. Professional opportunities

b.     Implement a new staff training program

GOAL #3 Continuously teaching the patrons to help themselves.

1.     Create a proactive learning environment that enables students to identify, find, evaluate and use information for problem solving and life-long learning.

D.     Reference and Information Services Librarian

The Reference and Information Services Librarian provides vision, leadership and direction for the Library's Reference & Informational Services Program, which includes reference, government documents, online searches, and general library tours. S/he has administrative responsibility for R&IS and works closely with the R&IS Team and the University Librarian to plan, develop, coordinate, and continuously improve the quality of reference and information services. S/he also evaluates the program to ensure that it meets the current and future needs of the University Community and other relevant constituents.

II.     Purpose of this Manual

A.     General Statement

The purpose of this manual is to state guidelines for providing a uniform standard of service of the highest quality consistent with available resources. Specific policies and procedures are not designed to replace the good judgment of trained personnel or to prescribe actions for every possible situation.

B.     Uses

  1. to orient and train new personnel
  2. to reveal and in some cases justify the basic philosophy of service envisioned by public services personnel and the library administration
  3. to represent a written standard against which direction and quality of service can be measured relative to stated goals and philosophy
  4. to answer queries of library personnel and patrons about the public service polices and procedures of the library. Questions of policy should be referred to the head of the unit charged with implementing that policy. Questions dealing with library-wide policy should be referred to the Director of Information Services.

C.     Availability

A minimum of three complete and most recent copies of this manual shall be kept, one in an area accessible to all public services personnel, one in the office of the library administration, and a third in Archives for permanent preservation. Additional copies may be made and distributed as needed.

D.     Review and Revision

This manual shall be living document and subject to continual review to insure that policies and practices reflect current needs and conditions. The contents shall be reviewed annually by both public services committees which will make recommendations for changes in the manual. Recommendations of substantive changes will be distributed to all public services personnel for input before final approval which must come from a majority vote of the library faculty. Minor revisions may be made by the two committees mentioned without higher approval.

The contents of this manual shall be preserved on computer storage to facilitate revision. To prevent data loss, a backup copy on a separate computer storage shall be kept and updated at the same time as the master file. The latest revision date shall be printed at the bottom of each revised page.

III.     Desk Manner

Much of the orientation and instruction is performed on a one-to-one basis at service/information desks. Since the manner and attitude displayed by the person in charge reflects directly on the image of the library service as a whole, care should be taken to insure that the patron receives the most courteous and accommodating service possible. The following guidelines apply:

A.     Patrons must be dealt with courteously and never made to feel they are being treated condescendingly or that their requests are stupid.

B.     A patron's motives or purposes for requesting material should never be challenged.

C.     The goal is retrieval of information that is complete and accurate. All available sources or methods should be exhausted in helping a patron. In referring a patron to another area within the library or to a department or service outside the library, a call ahead should be made to assure that the patron's needs will be met. Information service is a collaborative activity. Therefore, all public service personnel with reference desk experience are on call to help out with questions or staffing at the desk as unusual or urgent needs dictate. Doubts about information correctness, for example, should prompt a librarian to seek another opinion.

D.     Throughout the retrieval process, the goal is to educate patrons to help themselves whenever possible. However, they should be encouraged to return for help if results are not satisfactory.

E.     If information is simply not available, patrons should never be sent away without being given some explanation as to why the library cannot meet their needs.

F.     Library personnel should be alert, interested, and seek out patrons who appear to need assistance, in the spirit of "the patron comes first." The patron should be recognized and greeted early and never kept waiting, if possible. Service to patrons always takes preference over any other activity at the desk.

G.     It is library policy that a quiet environment be maintained in the public study areas of the library. Persons acting against library policies or a conducive study atmosphere should be approached diplomatically, tactfully, and cordially in the spirit of soliciting their cooperation. Related policies and regulations should be courteously explained and the rationale behind them, if necessary. Any continued opposition should be referred to proper authority. Every effort should be made to avoid confrontation or embarrassment.

H.     Absences from public desk areas should be as brief as possible. If it is necessary to leave for more than a few minutes and a replacement is not available, a sign giving direction to patrons should be placed in a visible position on the desk until the person in charge returns. Also during this absence, the telephone should be keyed to route calls to another desk or office where patrons may receive assistance in the meantime. As a courtesy, the person to whom the calls are to be routed should be informed of the situation.

I.     Messages providing the answers to recurring questions, to difficult questions, or about materials being held for users, etc. are to be left posted on the reference bulletin board for other personnel on duty at the reference desk. Questions which cannot be completely answered by a reference worker before he/she leaves a shift of duty may either be passed on to on-duty workers to complete or else handled to completion by the worker him/herself.

J.     Lengthy or loud social conversations with either patrons or colleagues should be avoided. Reference discussions between patron and librarian should be carried out in a low or normal voice, the volume depending on the proximity to occupied study areas.

K.     When working alone and assisting a patron away from the desk, every attempt should be made to keep the desk in sight so that any patron waiting at the desk can be seen.

L.     When the phone is ringing and several patrons are waiting at the desk, the in house users should be served first.

M.     When several patrons are waiting, they should be served in order. The attempt should be made to help several users concurrently by getting some started and assuring them that a return contact will be made to check on progress after others have been helped.

N.     Externally-produced library exercises are understood to be class assignments prepared by instructors for the purpose of acquainting students with library resources. In this case, the instructors are non-library personnel. Any public services personnel identifying such exercises which present difficulties for reference personnel, should notify the chair of the Library Curriculum Services Committee.

O.     A sign shall be in place to identify each major collection and service area within public services. Similarly, signs shall be used to indicate the sections and local peculiarities of the card catalog.

P.     Ethics - Every library employee engaged in public service activities:

  1. has a responsibility to sustain the principles of the Library Bill of Rights, should learn and faithfully execute the policies of public services, and endeavor to change those policies which conflict with the spirit of the Library Bill of Rights.
  2. must protect the patron's right to privacy in the seeking and use of acquired information.
  3. must avoid any possibility of personal financial gain at the expense of the library.
  4. has an obligation to insure equality of opportunity and fair judgement of competence in actions dealing with appointments, retentions, and promotions.
  5. is obligated when making appraisals of the qualifications of any individual to report the facts clearly, accurately, and without prejudice.
  6. is under obligation to always take library user needs seriously and treat these needs with respect. There should never by any discussion of an individual user or group of users or of any transactions between user an library employee outside of a professional context.
  7. No personal opinions should be expressed on a patron's query outside of a professional context.

IV.     Seminar Rooms

A.     Seminar rooms are identified with a sign adjacent to the door and are provided for the purpose of group study. Individuals or groups who use one of the seminar rooms for other purposes may be asked by any public service employee on duty to vacate the room in order to provide the space for group study if no other seminar room is available at the time.

B.     These rooms are available on a first-come-first-served basis unless officially reserved according to procedures outlined in the following section.

C.     In order to accommodate groups during periods of high demand, groups desiring to use a seminar room on a regular basis, or organized groups requiring a room for a special meeting, advance reservations shall be made by any reference desk personnel on duty but shall be recorded on the seminar room reservation calendar kept in the binder behind the reference desk. In case of a dispute over occupancy, users with advance reservations shall have priority over other users for the room and time period recorded on the reservation calendar. A maximum late period of fifteen minutes shall be allowed to parties having a reservation, after which the reservation is considered forfeited, and the reserved room reverts back to a first-come-first-served status. No seminar room shall be reserved for longer than one quarter by any one user group. A note on each door shall explain the reservation procedure, and policy in general terms. The Stewart Library administration reserves the right to preempt any seminar room reservation for its own purposes as conditions may warrant.

D.     No smoking, eating, or drinking is allowed in seminar rooms.

E.     All windows of each room must remain closed at all times.

F.     No library materials are to be left in seminar rooms.

G.     Permission must be obtained from the chair of the Reference Services Committee to use the classroom for purposes other than library science course sessions.

V.     Paging Requests

In consideration of building size and the lack of an electronic public address system, requests to page library patrons, in general, will not be honored. However, the person receiving the request should assess the level of urgency and exercise personal judgment as to whether or not the request should be honored. Since paging will require a person-by-person search of the building, persons on desk duty should avoid leaving their station by soliciting the aid of someone more available do the paging.

VI.     Telephone Reference

The telephone is one of the most important. means of providing service to, library users. Therefore, it is important that the guidelines be followed:

A.     Treat the caller in a polite, accommodating, and personal manner, identifying your area.

B.     Do not leave a caller holding the line for more than two to three minutes. If a search for an answer takes longer, arrange to call the person back if the call is local. If the call is long distance, the caller should call back at a specific time. Explain that the information will be left with the person then on duty.

C.     Message Log

VII.     Holding Materials for Patrons

Library materials or personal belongings should be held at the circulation desk. Other areas in public services are not required to provide this service but may do so as special conditions warrant. For example, reference materials collected to answer a specific question may be held at the reference desk. Each item should have a note stating for whom it is held and for how long.

VIII.     Lost and Found

Lost items should be delivered upon discovery to the circulation desk. Related inquiries should likewise be referred to the circulation desk.

IX.     Young Children (preschool)

No one will be denied access to the library simply because of age but disturbances caused by young children will be handled through the child's accompanying guardian. A noisy child should either be quieted or removed from public study areas. No young child is to be left unattended within the library. Collection items are not to be handled by young children left unattended. Uncooperative parents should be asked to leave the library.

X.     Pets/Animals

No pets shall be allowed in the building. Seeing-eye dogs for the blind shall be allowed.

XI.     Other restrictions

A.     Items of food or drink are not allowed to be consumed in the public services areas of the library.

B.     Storage or parking of bicycles within the library is prohibited.

XII.     Reference Personnel

A.     Schedules and Scheduling

1.     A consolidated work schedule for the reference, desk shall be printed and posted on the reference bulletin board at the beginning of each quarter. A copy shall be made available to each reference desk worker, a copy to circulation, and a copy to the library secretary. The chair of the Reference and Information Services Team is responsible for the preparation of the reference desk work schedule each quarter.

2.     Vacation - If you are taking vacation leave notify the Reference and Information Services Librarian at least one week in advance. Coverage will be arranged by the Reference and Information Services Librarian. It is extremely important that all personnel having public service desk assignments try to stagger vacation leave so that desk coverage is not negatively impacted. Persons holding the off-hour contracts are hired specifically to fill the off hours and should not schedule vacation leave which will interfere with this assignment. This paragraph does not apply to faculty.

3.     Illness or Emergency - In the event of illness or emergency, the Reference Assistant should be notified, and s/he will then immediately arrange coverage and notify the Reference and Information Services Librarian.

SPECIAL NOTE: It is extremely important that notification be given as far in advance as possible.

Also, for sudden illness or emergencies affecting weekend or evening coverage notify the Reference and Information Services Librarian immediately. If Reference and Information Services Librarian cannot be reached, work with any other public service personnel on duty to find an emergency replacement.

4.     Schedule Conflicts - The Reference and Information Services Librarian will arrange reference desk coverage for reference staff on the following occasions:

a.     professional development (i.e. seminars or workshops);

b.     committee meetings that consistently meet at the same time (i.e. faculty senate); or,

c.     teaching assignments (i.e. PD 101).

In other scheduling conflicts the reference staff are responsible for finding a replacement and changing the reference desk schedule.

5.     On Call - Any person qualified to serve at the reference desk is considered to be on call whether that person is on duty or not and is expected to respond as best one can to co-worker request for reference assistance on a special question or to fill in temporarily at the desk during unusual or emergency situations.

B.     Hiring student assistants

It is the responsibility of Reference and Information Services Librarian to assess student staffing needs and coordinate the hiring of student assistants for reference.

C.     Performance Evaluation

Reference performance, evaluation of faculty providing reference services shall be conducted by the Reference and Information Services Librarian with input from any library staff person.

D.     Job Entry and In-service Training

Training shall proceed according to programs designed and established by the Reference Team.

XII.     Emergencies

Security and medical emergencies requiring immediate action should be reported directly to Campus Police. Emergencies not requiring immediate attention should be reported to the library administration during regular hours and to Campus Police on evenings and weekends. Emergencies include unruly or deviant human conduct and sudden problems with the physical facilities.

The person reporting any emergency should describe the nature and location of the problem as accurately and specifically as possible and give the name and location of the contact person in the library who will meet the responding emergency personnel upon their arrival and direct them to the scene of the problem.

XIV.     Communication within Reference and Information Services

A bulletin board located in the reference office shall be the main communication device for public services personnel. Each person assigned. to work at the desk is under obligation to scan the board upon every arrival for work at the desk.

A.     Any person posting a notice should date it and initial it. In general, posted items should be removed after ten days unless there is a valid reason for longer posting it.

B.     Professional literature for examination should be placed in a conspicuous area of the reference office and labeled with the reshelving/ refiling date.

C.     A standard-sized, three-ring binder know as "The Public Services Information Handbook" shall be kept at the reference desk. Its purpose shall be to serve as a repository of the more detailed, yet less permanent types of local information and as a reference to special procedures or informational items of particular benefit to the personnel and services of the reference desk. Items to be kept after removal from bulletin board postings, for example, should go into this binder, if possible. The maintenance of the handbook is the responsibility of the Reference and Information Services Librarian, who will keep the handbook organized and periodically purged of useless or obsolete items. Anyone in reference may add items to this handbook. Purged items shall be made available for final review by all reference desk workers before discarding.

XV.     Telephones

A.     Library patrons and non public service library employees are not to use the phones at public service desks for off-campus calls. Phones at service desks may be used by anyone for brief, on-campus calls or local emergency calls.

B.     No long distance calls from any library phone shall be permitted without authorization. Personal long distance calls must be paid for by the caller

C.     Except for business or emergencies, public services personnel should neither make nor accept personal telephone calls while at work at the desk. The courtesy phones in the library lobby should be used by patrons for off-campus local calls.

XVI.     Computers

Patrons will only be allowed to use computers which have been designated for public use.

XVII.     Maintenance of the Reference Collection

XVIII.     Commercial Database Searching

A.     Reference staff responsibilities

It is the proactive responsibility of the reference staff person, when other library reference materials are proving inadequate or inappropriate, to refer the user to the appropriate bibliographer or the R&IS Librarian, to schedule the online search.

B.     When the University Library will subsidize commercial database searching

The University Library will subsidize searches that support the instructional and research needs of WSU faculty, staff and students.

Please Note: In instances where a faculty person, staff person or student has obtained a grant and/or contract to offset the expense of research, and the grant and/or contract includes commercial database expenses, all search expenses will be billed to the grant/contract.

C.     Non WSU Faculty, Staff or Students

Commercial database searches are done for non-WSU faculty, staff or students by appointment. Non-WSU faculty, staff or students are expected to pay all expenses incurred during the search.

D.     Searches for Classes

Searches for class assignments or classroom demonstrations are scheduled with the subject bibliographer at least a week in advance.

E.     Other Online Services

Other vendors offer online services. Although the University Library does not currently subscribe to many of these services, we will work with faculty in developing services that fill their need.

XIX.     Extended Reference Service

A.     Definition

This type of service encompasses the unusual in terms of the time, effort, complexity, number and types of sources involved, and so forth.

B.     Patron Classes and Priorities

Priority groups for extended service are, in order: WSU administration (deans and above), WSU faculty/staff, and WSU students. In general, extended service will not be given to those patrons who are not officially affiliated with WSU. Such patrons should be referred to those libraries or institutions specially established and equipped to meet the needs of these people.

C.     The Extended Question

Individual judgment must be exercised by public services personnel as to what constitutes extended service or what the time and resource limitations are in any given situation while keeping in mind the patron class priorities established.

1.     Bibliographies

Bibliographies of materials housed in the Stewart Library collections may be compiled on request of campus faculty and administration. These may be used as class handouts or for workshops, discussion groups, seminars, etc.

Bibliographies may be annotated or not annotated depending on the given need and the amount of time available for completion. Costs of photocopying or printing will be charged to the department or the faculty member originating the request.

Bibliographies needed for projects funded by outside agencies may also be produced on request, provided appropriate funding for "library research" is allocated to the Stewart Library. Arrangements, for such projects are to be made through the Director of Information Services. Two copies of all bibliographies will be placed in the University Archives and twenty copies will. be sent to the State Library Depository System for distribution to other institutions and agencies. The library, however, does not compile bibliographies to fulfill personal needs but in this case assists patrons in the use of the necessary bibliographical tools. Bibliographies produced to patron specifications may be printed from the DYNIX online catalog (see full description of this feature under Circulation, sec. VI.E.6).

2.     Genealogy Requests

Genealogical searches are not undertaken. However, assistance is offered in the location of standard reference sources or genealogical service agencies.

3.     Specialized Advice, Interpretation

Personnel serving at the reference desk may not offer interpretations or advice regarding legal, medical, financial, or, "how to" information.

4.     Reciprocal Exchange

The library supports reciprocal exchange of reference information among libraries of all types in pursuit of patron satisfaction. Incoming correspondence should be sent to the chair of the Reference Services Committee who will refer it to an appropriate person for reply. All replies should be made within one week of receipt of the original request. A copy of all. correspondence should be kept in the Reference Services Committee files. As a general rule, several pages of photocopied material may be supplied free as part of a response so long as it complies with copyright law.

D.     Private Requests

Requests for extended research service coming from patrons outside the priority groups stated in section 2 above cannot be honored on library time by Stewart Library personnel. However, the Stewart Library has no policy prohibiting any library employee from privately contracting with patrons to do research or prepare custom bibliographies for a fee so long as that employee pursues the work on his/her own time. However, in this case the Stewart Library assumes no responsibility for the quality of the results.

E.     Special Services

Special services are unusual services in the sense that they go beyond the normal, required services provided the request for this type of special treatment usually comes from the faculty. An example of this is a request for the library to photocopy the tables of contents each month from selected journals in a certain discipline for distribution to a specific academic department on campus. Each request for special service shall be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the library committee most affected. Since any decision has the potential of impacting the library image at large, the appropriate committee, after studying the request and the library's ability to meet it, shall offer a recommendation to the body of the library faculty who will make the final decision on the request. Primary considerations in each decision are the human, financial, and information resources available and the real or potential return benefits to be realized.

F.     Handling the Time-Consuming Question

For this type of question, the following options might be considered:

  1. A subject specialist may be called in or referred to.
  2. The patron could be informed of the time needed to answer the question and asked to return or check in later.

XX.     Telephone Reference Service

A.     Telephone reference assistance is limited to quick reference types of requests. Do not leave callers on hold longer than two minutes. Callers requiring assistance extending beyond this amount of time should be encouraged to come in person for help, check in later, or have the librarian call when the answer is available.

B.     Availability checks may be made through the card catalog and DYNIX. If more than three items are to be checked, the patron should be encouraged to come personally or send an assistant to do the checking. If verification beyond these catalogs is necessary, the person on duty should call other library departments for assistance as needed.

C.     On caller request, reference personnel are responsible for making a check through the appropriate catalogs available to them to ascertain WSU ownership and availability of an item at WSU, working with circulation personnel to retrieve found items from the shelf, and making sure they are routed to the circulation desk for pickup. The caller must be informed of the pickup location while still on the telephone. A return call to the patron may be necessary if the person at the reference desk or the circulation desk is unable to immediately verify the availability of the item.

D.     When transferring calls to another number, give the caller the number in case the call is disconnected or the caller wishes to keep a record of the number for later reference.

XXI.     Circulation of Reference Items

The Reference and Information Services Librarian is responsible for the correct application of the reference circulation policy.

A.     Items Leaving the Building

1.     Permission

As a general rule, no reference items circulate. In justified circumstances, a loan may be granted under special permission. Permission should be granted first by a faculty librarian from public services. If none such is available, then any contracted staff member on duty may grant permission. Student workers are not authorized to grant such permission. A reference item may not be loaned if there is a duplicate copy available in the circulating collections or if its absence would seriously impair service to other patrons.

2.     Length of Loan

Length of loan is negotiated between librarian and patron and depends on the intended purpose of the loan and the impact which the item's absence would have on service to others.

3.     Eligible Borrowers

Anyone able to present a currently valid WSU identification card is, eligible. Those not officially affiliated with WSU are ineligible.

4.     Checkout Process

The patron must fill out a charge slip in two parts. The librarian making the transaction is responsible to ensure that every box is completed on the slip and that the information is legible.

This person should also initial the slip in case there is any question about the loan. The patron's WSU identification card must be clipped to one copy of the slip and held at the reference desk till the item is returned. The other copy of the slip should accompany the item.

Since many reference items have permanently sensitized theft detection devices implanted inside them, the patron will have to be accompanied through the building exit by a library employee.

5.     Overdues

The Reference and Information Services Librarian is responsible for monitoring the reference circulation file, contacting patrons with overdue reference materials, and using all available means to secure their return as soon as possible after the items become overdue.

B.     Inhouse Use

1.     Reference Reserve Items

a.     Checkout Process

These are reference books which because of their high degree of popularity and usefulness are kept behind the reference desk. These constitute a reference reserve collection and are cross referenced from the general reference collection by means of "dummy books." These "dummies" are labeled on the spine indicating that the replaced item is located at the reference desk.

Any desk book leaving the reference desk are should be checked out using the Reserve Book Card (see Appendix 4) found inside each reference reserve book and which should have the title of the book stated on it. The book is handed to the patron in exchange for some type of security to be held and attached to the reserve card until the item is returned. Nothing needs to be written on the card by the patron. Preferred security items are current WSU identification card or valid driver's license. Other items of value may be kept as security also. No specific time limits have been set for this type of loan. However, such items should not remain on loan overnight.

2.     Withdrawals and Additions

A reference worker wishing to have materials considered either for withdrawal or inclusion in the reference reserve collection should use the following procedure:

a.     Place the item under consideration on the designated shelf in the reference office.

b.     Complete the top portion of the Ready Reference Materials Evaluation form.

c.     Post the form on the bulletin board in the reference office.

Forms will be posted for one week, during which time reference personnel will have an opportunity to comment. Consensus on the disposition of all materials is sought. If consensus is not reached, disposition will be determined by the majority opinion of those commenting. If there is no clear majority opinion, the status of the material under consideration will remain as it was prior to evaluation.

3.     Temporary Items

Materials from the reference and/or other library collections may be placed on temporary reference reserve only by members of Reference Services. Such materials will be placed on the shelves behind the reference desk for a period of time not to exceed ten weeks. All materials placed in temporary reference reserve must be identified by using the Temporary Reference Reserve slip (see appendix 4). Requests by college faculty and/or other library patrons to place materials in temporary reference reserve must be considered with regard to the purpose of the library's Reserve/AV Department. Requests involving nonlibrary materials and, in most cases, library materials from collections other than reference should, be referred to the Reserve/AV Department. Requests to "hold" materials for patrons at the reference desk will be honored or denied at the discretion of the member of Reference Services taking the request.

4.     General Reference Books

Since these are in an open stack area, they may be freely taken to other locations in the building. However, patrons wishing to take reference items to the copy center for copying should be asked to return them to the reference area for reshelving so that they can be again available to other users.

A.     Non-book Items

Occasionally, items such as scissors, a ruler, hole punch, etc. are requested by patrons for brief loan. Any such item should not be loaned from the desk without retaining some adequate security item attached to a note naming the item to ensure its return.

B.     Temporary Removals

A card file shall be maintained at the reference desk indicating which periodical titles have been removed for inhouse binding. The Serials Coordinator is responsible for communicating the information necessary to keep this file up to date. Any reference books removed for binding or repair, whether inhouse or to professional binding, are to be checked out to "bindery" using the regular checkout procedure and form for reference books. Any library item or set of items temporarily removed for special handling should be replaced with a note card taped to the shelf at the item's normal location indicating the title, call number, reason for removal, and temporary location of each such item or set. Responsibility for posting the note card and informing the affected public services personnel rests with the person removing the items. In addition, a circulation transaction should be made either on the automated system or manually if an automated checkout is not possible.

C.     Collection Development

1.     Selection

a.     Criteria for Inclusion

  1. Inclusion in Sheehy's Guide to Reference Books
  2. Favorable reviews received from an objective, professional source such as Choice
  3. The degree of content specialization, i.e. highly specialized works may be understood by so few patrons that they would hardly ever see use in a general reference collection.
  4. The reference nature of the book, i.e. written to be consulted for pieces of information rather than to be read throughout.
  5. Organization for quick and easy use, either in an alphabetical or chronological arrangement, or the item is replete with detailed indexes and cross references
  6. Always items such as indexes and bibliographies which "point" to the location of information

Borderline decisions are resolved by consensus of all faculty librarians in public services on the basis of what is best for the patron and the curriculum.

b.     Replacement of Print with Online Versions

Seldom used but expensive print titles should be evaluated and on consensus of the public services faculty librarians, replaced by the online version to be used as an integral part of online reference service.

c.     Patron Recommendations

Patrons wishing to have reference items considered for purchase by the library should be given a Student Book Request card (see Appendix 4) available at the circulation desk Completed cards should be referred to the collection development librarian who will review the requests in consultation with other appropriate public service librarians and inform the requesting patrons of the decision reached.

d.     Library Input

Any employee of the library is encouraged to offer recommendations for purchase. The collection development librarian should route incoming announcements of new reference items among public services faculty for their recommendations before items are purchased. Purchases should be made on the basis of agreement among the faculty librarians who serve at the reference desk.

2.     Weeding

a.     Decision Criteria

  1. The item has been superseded by a more current edition, and the item is not part of an annual series set.
  2. The item in no way supports any personal or academic needs of patrons.
  3. The information in the item is useless or perhaps even dangerous because of age.
  4. The item is not, by nature or internal arrangement, a reference book.
  5. The needs and purposes of the WSU primary patron classes are better served by transferring the item from a restricted status to a circulating status or even to an area or department external to the library.
  6. The item, because of discovered rarity or value, belongs in a closed, controlled environment.

b.     Automatic Serial Updating

The Serials Coordinator shall be responsible for maintaining information in the serials files relative to the handling and disposition of serial reference items and for the automatic replacement and disposal of superseded reference serial items as agreed to by the Serials Coordinator and the chair of the Reference Services Committee.

c.     Disposition of Weeded Items

The withdrawal of any items from the reference collection should not be finalized without common agreement among all personnel who work at the position of an item withdrawn from the reference collection should likewise be carried out in accordance with the common agreement of all reference desk personnel. Items, upon withdrawal from reference, shall be routed to technical services, each item with a note indicating the desired action to be taken.

D.     Control of Sensitive Information

1.     Patron Complaints

Patrons with complaints about materials they consider objectionable shall be asked to fill out a Citizen's Request for Consideration of a Book form (see Appendix 4) which will be reviewed according to general library policy. A timely response to the patron shall be given.

2.     Reference Questions

Public services personnel at the reference desk should always be alert to questions which invade personal privacy and may not give to patrons any interpretation or advice regarding legal, medical, financial, or "how to" information.

E.     Trivial Requests

Assistance with questions related to contests, radio quizzes, etc. for purposes of the patron's personal monetary gain should be given lowest priority. The librarian should knowingly help in his case only if all serious informational needs of other patrons have been met. Patrons should be asked to come to the library where reference sources will be pointed out for them to use in actually dong the searching themselves.

F.     Housekeeping

Keeping the reference office and the reference desk area clean and orderly is the common responsibility of everyone at the reference desk. Reference desk personnel are not to leave their work or personal articles lying about the area when they leave their scheduled hour at the desk. If there is a need to leave an item, such should be stated on a note left with the item. All notes should be dated and initialed in case there is any question. If the counter-top or terminal screens need polishing or if litter needs to be picked up from the floor, this type of thing should be attended to by the person(s) working at the desk as needs dictate. Some basic cleaning materials are to be kept available in the reference office. Reference reserve items are to be reshelved into their proper places as soon as possible after use. Items on temporary reserve for class assignments should be kept apart from the regular reference reserve items and should have a note attached indicating the class or instructor and the length of time the materials are to be set aside.

Personal items of patrons may be held at the reference desk as circumstances warrant. However, items to be held overnight and longer should be transferred to the circulation desk. The library considers this a convenience service to patrons but disclaims any guarantee for the security of such items held. Reference items collected to answer a question should have a note stating for whom and for how long the items are to be held.

G. Unauthorized Persons Behind Reference Desk

Unauthorized persons are not allowed behind the reference desk unless there is reasonable justification for their presence. Reference personnel may permit or deny access to such persons as is deemed necessary.


A. In order to accommodate groups during periods of high demand, access to LEXIS-NEXIS shall be by reservation only.

B. Advance reservations shall be recorded in the LEXIS-NEXIS reservation calendar kept in the binder at the LEXIS-NEXIS workstation.

C. The LEXIS-NEXIS workstation shall be reserved for only one hour at a time by any one patron.

D. The LEXIS-NEXIS workstation shall not be reserved more than a week in advance.

E. A maximum late period of ten minutes shall be allowed to parties having a reservation, after which the reservation is considered forfeited, and use of LEXIS-NEXIS for that hour will be on a first-come-first-served basis.

F. The Stewart Library reserves the right to preempt any LEXIS-NEXIS reservation for its own purposes as conditions may warrant.

Updated September 30, 2004 . Please send comments to Joan Hubbard, University Librarian.
Weber State University, Stewart Library. Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved.

Stewart Library - Weber State University - Ogden, Utah 84408. (801) 626-6403 - Copyright © 2008 ALL Rights Reserved