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Services & Reference Assistant -Training LibGuide: Reference Referrals

This is an online training guide to help new and returning student workers become more familiar with what to do when working at the Services and/or Reference Desk

Contacts for Referrals

Contact for reference referrals can be found by using the Subject Specialist page located underneath Help tab on the library's website. The Subject Specialist page is also available on the link below:

What is a referral?

In dictionary terms, a referral is an act of referring someone for consultation, review, or further action.  That is exactly what you are doing when you refer a library user to someone else.  You have helped them as much as you can, and now it is time to send them to someone who can help them further.

When to refer to a librarian

When to refer to a librarian

There are some situations, that you are not equipped to answer. These questions or situations often require a greater level of expertise or may require that the patron make appointment with a librarian. These situations include:

  • I need complete a SWOT analysis for my business class. . .
  • What primary sources do you have on French Quarter architecture. . .
  • I am looking to see if you have standards available on wind turbines. . .

When you encounter questions that make you go hmm. . . or your first instinct is to go to Google to find out what the patron is talking about, stop and contact the on call librarian.

Other things to remember when referring reference questions. . . .

  • Do NOT send someone away without help or a referral.
  • If the appropriate subject librarian is not available, provide the patron with that librarian's business card or name and contact information.

Steps to a Successful Referral

  1. Use the reference interview to determine what the library user needs.  You will usually discover if the user needs a referral during or after the reference interview.
  2. Direct the user to some resources to get them started: i.e. web site, databases, libguides.
  3. Based on the reference interview, determine who should receive the referral.
    • Is this a research issue? Call the librarian on call.
    • Is this a departmental issue? Examples, InterLibrary Loan, Research and Technology, Administration
    • Is this a subject that involves Louisiana or New Orleans? These should go to Louisiana and Special Collections
    • Is this interaction occuring after 4:30 or on the weekend? Refer to the subject librarian. (and proceed to #6)
  4. Let the user know that you are referring him/her for more assistance.  Ask them to wait while you contact the person/department receiving the referral.
  5. Call the librarian
    • Let her know you have a referral for her.
    • Ask if she is available to talk to the user now.
    • Ask if she would like to come down to the desk, or if she would like the user to come to her office.
  6.  If the librarian does not answer or says she is not available to meet at the time, explain to the user that the subject specialist is not available.
  7. Ask if the user would like to leave their contact information.  If so, note it down.
  8. Give the user the librarian's contact information and offer them the librarian's card.
  9. If the user provided contact information, email it along with a brief summary of the question and what information you provided to the librarian.
  10. Don't forget to note the interaction on the statistics sheet.

What you should be able to do. . .

  • Identify and refer complex research questions to the appropriate librarian 
  • Complete appropriate referral process for library departments or services (Interlibrary Loan, Reserves, Requesting Material)