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Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Service Providers

  1. Approachability

    1. Conveys an attitude and manner that encourages users to seek assistance.
    2. Displays poise and readiness to engage approaching users.
      • Establishes initial eye contact with user.
      • Acknowledges the presence of the user through smiling, a friendly greeting, initiating conversation, standing up, moving forward, or turning toward the user.
      • Acknowledges others waiting for service by eye contact or by asking if the question can be answered quickly.
      • Avoids casual conversation with colleagues.
    3. Remains visible to users as much as possible.
    4. Walks through the reference area offering assistance whenever possible.
    5. Offers all users the same quality service.
    6. Dresses in proper office attire.

  2. Interest

    1. Maintains or re-establishes eye contact with the user throughout the transaction.
    2. Focuses attention on the user throughout the exchange.
    3. Conveys to the user that the reference staff member is keeping the user involved in the search process.
    4. Establishes a physical distance which appears to be comfortable to the user, based upon the user's verbal and non-verbal responses.
    5. Gives the user confidence by signaling an understanding of the user's needs through verbal or non-verbal confirmation, such as nodding head or making brief comments or asking questions.
    6. Appears unhurried during the reference transaction.
    7. Shows enthusiasm in providing services.

  3. Listening/Inquiring

    1. Uses a friendly tone of voice throughout the transaction.
    2. Communicates in a receptive, cordial, and encouraging manner, and reads behavioral clues to respond appropriately to patrons.
      • Maintains eye contact.
    3. Allows the user to state fully his/her information need before responding.
      • Displays patience.
      • Does not make assumptions.
    4. Displays tolerance of repetitive questions.
      • Is patient--it may be the hundredth time you have heard a question but it is the first time that the patron has asked it.
    5. Rephrases the user's question or request and asks for confirmation and clarification.
      • Makes sure you are answering the question the patron asks.
    6. Uses terminology that is understandable to the user.
      • Assumes that patrons may not understand the jargon we use.
      • Explains library jargon to the patron when you use it.
    7. Uses open-ended questioning techniques to encourage the user to present additional information. Some examples of such questions include:
      • Please tell me more about your topic.
      • What additional information can you give me?
      • Can you give me an example?
      • Can you be more specific?
      • Can you give me some background information or context?
      • Can you define what you mean by ________________ for me?
      • Can you give me some sense of how much information you need?
      • Where have you looked already?
      • I am not sure what is meant by __________ can you give me a definition or a description?
      • Can you explain what you mean by _____________?
      • That sounds like a big project, can you be more specific?
      • So what you're saying is.....
      • What did the professor ask you to do/what did the professorsay about the assignment?
      • That is a very interesting topic, can you tell me more?
    8. Uses closed and/or clarifying questions to refine the search query. Some examples of clarifying questions are:
      • What type of information do you need (books, articles, current, historical)?
      • How much information do you need? Is this for a short paper, a dissertation? topic, etc.?
      • Have you looked at anything yet? Where have you already looked?
      • What have you already found?
      • Is this for a class, presentation, paper, etc.?
      • Does it matter when the material was published?
      • Do you need recent information or doesn't it matter?
      • Do you want to use periodical literature or books or both?
      • Did your professor state that you need to use certain types of sources? such as journals, professional literature, statistical ?
      • Can you use articles in popular magazines, or do you need to use? research or scholarly materials?
      • This can be a very multidisciplinary topic. I can see several ways to go with this. Are you interested in finding articles from a particular perspective such as medical, sociological, educational, consumer-oriented?
      • How much time do you have?
      • Do you have your assignment sheet?
      • Do you need brief information or something more involved?
      • Have you already looked in __________________________?
      • How does this look? Is this what you want?
    9. Maintains objectivity and does not interject value judgments into the transaction. Examples:
      • Refrains from imposing personal opinions upon users.
      • Provides quality service regardless of any personal reaction to question or questioner.
    10. Possesses ability to see humor in difficult situations and keeps a balanced perspective.

  4. Follow-up

    1. Checks back and asks the user if the question has been completely answered. An example is:
      • Did you find what you needed?
      • Does this completely answer your question?
      • Is this all the information you need today?
    2. Encourages the user to return to the reference desk for additional help. Some examples are:
      • Please come back to the reference desk if you do not find what you need.
      • Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
    3. Maintains an alertness to patrons using library equipment in the event assistance may be needed.
      • Is aware that some people are unfamiliar with computers and other library equipment.
      • Roves through computer area offering "on-the-spot" assistance.
    4. Consults with other library staff when additional expertise is needed.
    5. Knows when to stop looking and makes an appropriate referral. See referral guidelines.

  5. Staff Collegiality

    1. Contributes to a team concept of providing reference service.
      • Demonstrates willingness to offer assistance to colleagues working at the reference desk and asks for assistance when needed.
      • Demonstrates respect for colleagues at all times.
      • Demonstrates flexibility by offering to substitute for absent colleagues and to pinch-hit when off-desk assistance is needed.
      • Shares new discoveries about research materials.
    2. Uses tact and grace (without assigning blame) to correct a user's experience with poor referral or misinformation.
    3. Demonstrates good interpersonal skills with colleagues and users.
      • Avoids conversation with colleagues which might be misinterpreted or considered inappropriate.
    4. Adheres to desk staffing and scheduling by
      • Arriving at the desk on time for scheduled shifts and staying until the end of the shift.
      • Arranging for changes in the schedule that involve trading times to accommodate for planned absences.
      • Contacting the desk coordinator in cases of illness or unexpected important meetings or other unplanned professional commitments requiring a brief change of schedule.

  6. Basic Reference Competency Skills

    1. Works effectively at a reference desk, demonstrates a desire to increase knowledge base.
      • Keeps up with current events
      • Possesses basic understanding of campus information
      • Knows the reference collection and general contents of your library
      • Realizes that no one can know everything
      • Explores a subject area when asked a question you do not understand or have not addressed previously
      • Consults with colleagues to further assist patron
      • Follows up with "how did you handle that" after making a referral to a colleague
    2. Demonstrates understanding of basic library collection and how it is organized
      • Knows what libraries are on campus and in the community
      • Knows how to direct people to these libraries
      • Knows the general subject area in each location
      • Knows key personnel in the libraries, such as, the directors, personnel officers and subject specialists
    3. Demonstrate understanding of your reference collection and how it is organized
      • Knows the types of materials in the collection, such as, encyclopedias, handbooks, statistics, etc.
      • Knows shelving "oddities" in your library
      • Cultivates an understanding of reference materials
    4. Understands library classification systems
      • Understands how materials are arranged in your library
      • Understands classifications used in the UF library system.
          Library of Congress (LC)
          Decimal--Dewey (DDC) and National Agriculture Library (NAL)
          US Government Printing Office Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc)
          National Library of Medicine (NLM)
          Florida Documents
          Alphabetical by Title
          Special formats
    5. Demonstrates understanding of basic reference materials
    6. Demonstrates understanding of ready reference materials
      • Knows what is on ready reference
      • Knows where it is located
      • Knows when to use it
      • Knows how to use it
    7. Knows the core/basic literature and indexes of subject disciplines
    8. Seeks an expanding knowledge of reference sources, both older and newer ones
    9. Demonstrates knowledge of electronic reference sources and equipment available for patron use
      • Complies with the Information Technology Competency Requirements for Smathers Libraries Staff
      • Becomes expert on these databases (time permitting)
    10. Demonstrates understanding of the UF Library Catalog
      • Knows how to retrieve and read a bibliographic record in the brief and long view.
      • Knows how to retrieve and read holdings statements for multiple copies as well as for multiple volumes.
      • Knows how to retrieve and read a record display in the UF Library catalog for various formats, locations, and circulation statuses.
      • Knows how to use UF Catalog help screens.
      • Knows how to Logon and Logoff.
      • Knows how to navigate from one mode of Aleph to another.
      • Knows how to resolve and/or report common problems.
    11. Demonstrates understanding of the Aleph Production Client
      • Knows how to retrieve and read an order/payment/receipt record.
      • Knows how to retrieve and read serial check-in records.
      • Knows how to retrieve and read an item record.
    12. Knows how to use the indexes and full text sources navigating the Smathers Libraries webpage
    13. Keeps current with changes in technology
    14. Demonstrates ability to instruct users in library research process and how to use the basic, paper and electronic reference tools

      • Knows a variety of approaches to assist users
      • Knows which approach to use for best effect in any given reference situation, revising approach as necessary
      • Has ability to lead users through the steps of the research process
      • Has ability to take a source and explain how to use it
    15. Demonstrates awareness of available library handouts, both print and online, and actively participates in preparing and updating them
      • Knows what handouts, online user aids, and tutorials exist
      • Reviews content of handouts on a regular basis
      • Suggests and/or develop new handouts, as appropriate
      • Notifies preparer of errors found or updates needed
      • Volunteers to make needed updates
      • Knows process for replenishing handout stock
    16. Demonstrates knowledge of campus and libraries' policies/procedures and effectively interprets them to the public
      • Links to University of Florida and Smathers Libraries policies and procedures through the Libraries Homepage and the Staff Web.
      • Library policies not currently on the Libraries Toolbox as of November 1996 are:
          Libraries Policy and Procedure Manual
          Career Resource Handbook
          Circulation Manual
          Collection Management Manual
    17. Uses the reference telephone effectively and appropriately. Examples of appropriate telephone etiquette are:
      • Answers the telephone in two rings
      • Identifies where you work: "Education Library Reference Desk. May I help you."
      • Limits calls to reference-related activities
      • Uses judgment as to how long a question will take to answer and arrange to call back. Patrons with questions requiring in-depth research or lengthy telephone answers should either be asked to come to the library or the question should be handled as a follow-up after leaving the Reference Desk
      • Supplies patron with the appropriate telephone number before transfering a call
      • Does not accept collect calls from non-library personnel
      • Directs patrons to public phones--except in case of an emergency
    18. Expands knowledge of reference sources when not actively working with a patron. Examples of appropriate activities are:
      • Offers assistance to patrons proactively
      • Watches for changes in reference desk or area
      • Tries new computer services available in the Libraries in order to improve computer skills
      • Browses new reference materials
      • Scans handouts to prepare for later revision
      • Uses handy reference tools to look up a previous difficult question
      • Uses reference tools to verify ILL requests
      (Guidelines revision January 21, 1997)

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