I find that one of the best skills to have when providing reference is excellent customer service. I have been in customer service my whole career, and it’s a skill I’ve worked hard to develop. I’ve provided reference and information support at numerous libraries using print and online resources.
In Person Reference
My experience working with the public at the Clinton Public Library (and other Jackson Hinds Library locations) prepared me for the reference desk at the University of Washington Libraries, as well as working with the general public as a part of The Seattle Public Library in the Intermittent Librarian program. I’ve assisted with questions from preschoolers looking for books about Evolution and professors studying theories of group dynamics within Group Therapy.
I have also provided long reference consultations (both on a scheduled basis and for drop in help) for high school students at University Prep Academy Library and graduate students and professors at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. Examples of some of the in depth research topics I’ve provided are listed below.
- Reference Project for Grad Student
- Reference Project for Psychology/Theology Professor
- Reference Project for 3-year-old
I began assisting patrons over email and QuestionPoint at the University of Washington Libraries where I regularly responded to inquiries about interlibrary loan requests, library account issues, and basic reference questions. I continued to provide online reference via email to professors and students as a librarian at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, although due to the size of the school we did not subscribe to QuestionPoint. As an Intermittent Librarian at The Seattle Public Library I assisted the Business, Science, and Technology desk in responding to inquiries received via QuestionPoint during a particularly busy weekend.
Providing customer service over the phone can be one of the most challenging skills to develop as it requires a high attention to detail, an ability to listen and provide clear instructions, and often a lot of patience. While I don’t have examples, I have a number of references who have complimented my calmness and professionalism on the phone.