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Reference Intern Program: The Reference Desk


Quck Links

InterLibrary Loan

If known items are not available to borrow from Consort or OhioLINK, your next step would be to help the patron fill out an Interlibrary Loan request.

Password tracking.

Journal articles may also be requested via ILL, but N.B., some bound journal volumes can be requested from OhioLINK.  Check there first.

Record Keeping

We use Footprints to keep track of the number and kind of reference questions we answer.  So, after you finish with each patron, you will create a Footprints ticket for that interaction.

Advanced > 5+ minutes

Basic < 5 minutes

Computer (printer, word, excel, etc)

Government Documents

Location facilty (bathroom, offices, etc)

Location materials (call numbers, folio, etc)

Referral (circulation, helpline, etc)

E Resources Trouble (broken link, full text problems)

Chat Ref

  1. Admin Sign In
  2. email: reference @
  3. password: 
  4. Launch Chat
  5. Go Online

Please Interrupt Me!


  • Smile ; look approachable ; look up from your work often
  • "May I help you?"
  • "There are NO stupid questions."
  • Walk with patrons to resources (reference books, atlases, etc.)
  • Walk with them to the map / give clear directions to stacks locations
  • Offer to go to the stacks, if patrons have difficulty finding items
  • Ethics / Privacy
  • Priority: In person patrons, then phone and chat questions
  • Focus on the job not your social life

Reference Interview

  • Caveat: what the patron says they need may not be what they actually need (that's what the interview helps you find out)



  • Is there a class assignment?
    • What kind of assignment?  long paper, short paper, etc.
    • Do you have a copy of the assignment?  Or is it on Moodle?


  • What have you done so far?
    • Have you searched Consort?  OhioLINK?
    • Have you looked for a library course page or subject guide?
    • Have you tried any databases?
      • Which ones?
      • Have you tried ___ instead?
    • What search terms have you tried?
    • Have you been flexible with your search terms?
      • Synonyms, adding terms, combining terms, etc.


Next steps

Basic versus Advanced (when to say U.N.C.L.E.)


We all ask for help.  If you get a stumper during weekday hours, CALL one of the reference librarians.  We reference librarians call one another all the time.  It's another strategy in our toolbox.


Try to use 5 - 10 minutes as a good rule of thumb.  If your searching isn't productive at that point, it's time to send out an SOS.


Government documents present unique challenges.  You will probably want to forward these questions to a librarian.


If your stumper comes after dark (9 pm :) ), use web form to notify the appropriate librarian what you have done so far and give the patron that librarian's contact information as well.


If you encounter technical difficulties (broken links, a database that does not work, unretrievable full text, etc.), use Footprints to notify Chris Hudson; include as many details about the problem as possible.