The Reference Interview

I am glad Reidling devoted a chapter to the Reference Interview.  It was one of the words in my first post on the definitions I had trouble with.  It seemed “too formal” to me and I had never thought to “define a conversation between myself and a student about what information I am helping them to locate.”  The chapter in Reidling clarified and brought up some points I hadn’t really considered before.

According to Reidling a reference interview consists of  “rules, methods and characteristics that create the accurate connection between information and the needs of the student.”  One suggestion in creating this connection is to know as much about the student as possible (social data) before embarking on the interview (p. 100).  This is an unrealistic goal in a high school because it is impossible to know every student that may need help in locating resources.  However, I realize that in the past when I have helped students find resources, I often didn’t take into account their level or interest.  In the future I could make sure to ask the appropriate questions that would elicit this information.  I also was reminded that students are a teacher-librarian’s first priority and that in order to “create an accurate connection” between them and the resources they need, time for this conversation is necessary (p. 103). I admit that on a busy day, when I am doing “other” work in the library, I haven’t always taken the time to find out a student’s needs fully before suggesting resources.

Though I have gained some insight into the reference interview, the term, at least related to students, still seems too formal to me, though I can’t think of a better one.  In practice, I don’t think I will create any formal procedures when dealing with students’ information needs, but keeping the term “interview” in mind may help me to remember my purpose and remind me of the process needed in order to help students effectively with their search for information.

Reidling, Ann. Reference Skills for the School Library Media Specialist: Tools and Tips. 2nd Edition. Worthington: Linworth Publishing Inc, 2005. p 99-105. Print.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Reference Interview

  1. Anne

    Yes, and you must also develop a level of trust with the students so that you are a source that they will be eager to use and feel confident about.

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