Reference Service Policy and Plan

 I. Purpose

Providing reference service is one of the primary roles of the Schiller Park Public Library. Answering reference questions has priority over other staff assignments, with the exception of in-charge responsibilities. 

II. Goals

The mission of the Schiller Park Public Library is to provide collections and services to meet the community’s desire for information, literature and entertainment. 

The goals of reference service at the Schiller Park Public Library are:

  • To acquire materials that meets the informational and recreational needs and interest of the community. To meet the community’s need for information and answers to questions on a broad array of topics related to work, school and personal life with appropriate services, programs, and collections in a variety of formats.
  • To provide accurate information and facilitate access to the Library’s Collection and to the collections and services of the and its members.
  • To call upon local resources to meet the needs which cannot be provided on site, or refer requests to the appropriate agencies or types of agencies.
  • To provide qualified and trained staff to assist patron in an efficient and courteous manner.  To encourage library patrons to seek the assistance of the staff to meet their information needs.
  • To provide assistance to patrons regarding their use of electronic sources

III. Ethics, Confidentiality and Impartiality in the Reference Transaction

  • Reference transactions are considered confidential under Illinois State Law.
  • Effort is made to answer all types of questions with no distinction made about the purpose of the inquiry or the use of the information. All questions are handled in confidence and with impartiality.
  • The Schiller Park Library subscribes to the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics.

IV. Availability of Reference Service

A.  Availability of Service

The Schiller Park Public Library provides assistance to any patron requesting it, regardless of residency or age. Effort is made to answer all types of questions with no distinction made about the purpose of the inquiry or the use of the information

The Schiller Park Library provides reference assistance to any patron requesting it, regardless of residency. Reference service is available through the library’s website during and after business hours. The entire collection – Juvenile and adult, circulating and non-circulating – is available to patrons of all ages to answer reference questions. Whenever possible, the library licenses online resources that can be accessed thought the library website 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Many resources require a Schiller Park Library card for access outside the library.

B. Extent of Reference Service

Reference information may be delivered by telephone, mail, fax, electronic means, e-mail or in person.  In the case of fax use, the faxed information may only be sent to the patrons requesting Library, not to a personal or business fax.

V. Staffing

1. When answering reference questions, staff members, whether professional or para-professional, serve as the link between resources and the patron.  As such, it is important that the staff member be:

   a. Knowledgeable about library materials and services

   b. Open and approachable; friendly but professional

   c. Able to communicate effectively with people

   d. Discreet in the handling of questions which might be confidential or sensitive

   e. Able to exercise good judgment both in the interpretation of policy and in the handling of exceptional situations

2. Staff will complete a thorough of in house and electronic sources to answer a reference questions. Patrons are given the source of the information, as well as the answer.

Assisting patrons has priority over other staff assignments.  The staff may set reasonable limits on the amount of time and level of response given to patron requests for information.  Simple requests for information can usually be answered fully.  More complex questions may require that patrons participate in finding needed information,  with staff providing guidance and assistance.  Patrons doing in-depth research or needing extensive individual reading guidance should expect to receive professional assistance, direction and library instruction, but will be expected to conduct the actual research themselves.  

Staff will offer their best professional opinion when providing reader’s advisory or recommending the best source to answer a question. Staff will not give opinions, advice or interpretation of information beyond the scope of their expertise and training in library reference work. Areas in which staff is not qualified to give advice included, but are not limited to, legal, medical or tax advice.

If information appropriate to the patron’s need is not available, in the library, referral may be made to another organization. Staff will verify that the needed information is available from source before referral.

VI. Fees

Most reference questions can be answered without charge. However, patrons will charged the usual fees for the printing from the library computers when staff prints from online resources for them. Materials can be borrowed from other libraries through interlibrary loan. The Interlibrary Loan Policy covers the fees that may be charged for this service

VII. Evaluation of Reference Service

An in-house evaluation is made every (3) three years by the Director and Reference Staff, to determine how effectively the Library is fulfilling its Reference Service goals.  In addition, the Reference Department continuously monitors and evaluates the effectiveness of Reference Service on an informal basis.  The Schiller Park Public Library Board of Trustees reviews the Long Range Plans, budget requests and community input to assess needs and authorize changes in the service program.

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