Monday, February 06, 2006

Is it Circulation? Or is it Reference?

Many library patrons do not distinguish between circulation help and reference help. Consequently, you may get some reference questions while sitting at the Circulation Desk. Please be very careful to refer ALL reference questions to the Reference Desk. If no librarian is on duty, tell the patron to call or come back during reference hours. Under no circumstances are the student workers to answer reference questions, even if you feel able to do so.

There are several reasons for the policy. The reference librarians are educated and highly trained for this work. They are skilled in conducting reference interviews to ensure the patron receives the correct information. They are also well aware of the restrictions against unauthorized practice of law and trained in ways to help patrons without violating these restrictions.

So, how do you tell the difference? Circulation questions include those wanting to know whether we have a book or other material, or where something is kept. Questions about how to use a code, how to look up a case, where to find rules about a legal topic - these are all reference questions. If you have any doubts, please ask a reference librarian. Thanks!

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