Mission & Policies
Reference Service Policy
5.4.1 Purpose of Reference Service
Providing reference service is one of the primary roles of the Downers Grove Public Library. Answering reference questions has priority over other staff assignments, with the exception of in-charge responsibilities.
5.4.2 Goals of Reference Service
The Mission of the Downers Grove 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 Downers Grove Public Library are:
A. 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.
B. To provide materials and services to meet users' needs for timely, accurate, and useful information.
C. To provide a trained staff to assist patrons and facilitate access to the library's collections and cooperative resources.
D. To encourage library patrons to seek the assistance of the staff to meet their information needs.
5.4.3. Ethics and Standards
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 Downers Grove Public Library subscribes to the American Library Association's Code of Ethics. The library also meets the Minimum Reference Standards for Public Libraries established by the Metropolitan Library System. A copy of this reference service policy is available for patrons to consult in each of the public service departments in the library. Further clarification can be sought from the coordinators of these departments or the library's administrators.
5.4.4 Availability of Service
The Downers Grove Public Library provides reference assistance to any patron requesting it, regardless of residency. Reference service is provided by trained staff during all hours the library is open. In addition, live virtual 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 through the library website 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Many online resources require a Downers Grove Library card for access outside of the library.
5.4.5 Acceptance and Priorities of Inquiries
Inquiries are accepted in person, by telephone, by electronic means, and through the mail. Priority is given to in-person requests. Staff will, however, complete a telephone conversation in process before attending to an in-person request.
5.4.6 Answering Questions
Staff will complete a thorough search of appropriate in-house and electronic sources to answer a reference question. Patrons are given the source of the information, as well as the answer.
Patrons may be asked to assist in checking materials for the information sought during busy periods or with a complicated question.
If determining the answer to a question requires reading and evaluating an extensive amount of text, staff will gather the sources for the patron to use. The patron will be responsible for completing the necessary synthesis.
Staff will offer their best professional opinion when providing reader's advisory service 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 include, but are not limited to, legal, medical, or tax advice.
Staff will assist as they are able in helping patrons with computer applications and will refer patrons to appropriate books, online tutorials, or classes for further assistance. When assisting patrons with computer resources, staff will not enter personal information for patrons.
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 the source before referral.
Whenever possible, answers to questions will be provided during the patron's visit or first contact. When other patrons are waiting, staff may have to limit the initial amount of time spent serving an individual patron but follow-up attention will be given.
Staff will attempt to answer a patron's question within a required deadline. Otherwise, questions usually will be answered, referred, or a status report given within 24 hours. A longer response time will be negotiated with the patron when staff needs additional time to locate the requested information.
Material may be mailed, faxed, or scanned and emailed upon request to patrons with a valid Downers Grove library card, for a fee of $1.00 per page. The material will be sent within 24 hours of receipt of the request, if possible.
When a Downers Grove resident or cardholder cannot come to the library due to a disability or unusual circumstances, the librarian may copy and send the material for free. Tax forms will not be mailed or faxed.
Non-Downers Grove cardholders seeking to have material sent to them must request the material from their home library. However, if the material is from a unique Downers Grove historical or genealogical source, it may be photocopied and mailed or scanned and emailed to non-Downers Grove cardholders for a fee of $1.00 per page. The material will be sent within one week of receipt of the request, if possible.
Most reference questions can be answered without charge. However, patrons will be charged the usual fees for printing from 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.
The library's reference service is intended to meet general reference needs of library patrons. In the event that an individual or organization requires specialized services beyond the normal scope of the library's reference service, the individual or organization may contract with the library for those services. Fees for such service will be charged at an hourly rate equal to the mid-range of a professional librarian's salary schedule, plus all expenses incurred by the library. The library reserves the right to refuse to contract to perform such additional services when it would interfere with the provision of services to other library patrons.
8. Evaluation of Reference Service and Policies
The reference service policy will be reviewed at least every three years by library staff, the Administration, and the Library Board of Trustees.
From 5. Library Services ~ 5.4 Reference Service Policy, Adopted 11/24/1987, last revised 03/25/2009