Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bob Ducket on Using Your Wits

I subscribe to a lot of blogs and websites, both within and outside of the library community. Some times it happens that a non-library resource leads me back to a topic that was covered in the program.

This is one of those times. Bob Duckett was a Reference Librarian of Bradford City Libraries in the United Kingdom. In the post entitled "Reference Desk: Tips on Using Your Wits" he writes about how do you effectively find information for library patrons, no matter when you started learning how to do so.

UK vs US Terminology

This is a guess on my part but when Bob talks about the Enquiry Desk I think that is the same as our Reference Desk. This is a sample:
I exaggerate, and lucky you if you know your clientele and know what their likely demands will be: the course that students will be doing perhaps, or the job descriptions of users of a firm's library. But on a public library counter the next enquirer is likely to be unknown to you. You are at the mercy of the World and his Significant Other.
Yes, my years of watching Dr. Who has come in handy. Which is another point in the article, you want a broad based of knowledge. It is not just the academics, it is the connection with the various worlds we occupy. Your hobbies, past careers and eccentricities are a bonus to be embraced. You will be surprised on how helpful they can be in a pinch.

Take Away Points

Much of what he has to same is common sense but since that is not so common you should be on the safe side and read this anyway. The three main take away point I got were:
  • Never talk down to a patron
  • Use the interview format to properly understand your patrons needs
  • Know your sources and resources. Not everything can be found on the Internet so be open to cracking a book open once in a while. If the microfilm/fiche reader is functional give it a go and discover the past.
This was a good article and I do recommend that those of you who may find themselves at the reference desk read and review the concepts.

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