Remote Reference: A Practitioner’s Guide




Graff, Rebecca
Heuer, Megan
Jenkins, Sarah

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In recent years, the approaches to providing reference help have changed, and practitioners must learn and hone skills to keep up. While we used to respond to questions in-person and over the phone, we now add chat, texting, and video to the mix. Data from a 2019 RUSA survey show that most librarians do not feel adequately prepared to handle the newer remote reference platforms. Because of physical distancing, such competencies have become essential. After demonstrating the need for training, we will cover best practices for interacting remotely. The user’s experience of remote reference is significantly different than in-person. We will emphasize how to consider the patron’s point of view during interactions, in order to better assist them. For example, chat interactions should communicate in writing what we cannot through expression. Another aspect of ensuring excellence is consistency among staff. After determining performance standards and training staff to achieve them, quality control measures must get implemented. We will discuss ways of systematically bolstering staff’s performance when assisting patrons. Building a positive feedback loop helps to connect expectations to action. Participants will leave feeling more confident in their abilities to use different reference modes and to keep the patron’s experience in mind when providing reference remotely.


Presented at CTLC 2020