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Research Guides@TCC Libraries

Librarian and Staff Portal

What is reference?

According to RUSA,

Reference Transactions are information consultations in which library staff recommend, interpret, evaluate, and/or use information resources to help others to meet particular information needs. Reference transactions do not include formal instruction or exchanges that provide assistance with locations, schedules, equipment, supplies, or policy statements.

Reference Work includes reference transactions and other activities that involve the creation, management, and assessment of information or research resources, tools, and services.

Reference librarians and staff receive questions in the library at the reference service points, over the phone, via virtual reference, and via e-mail. Statistics are compiled according the different types of reference transactions as defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries.

Reference Services include:

  • Individual consultation for patrons at the Reference Desk and computer labs during the hours the library is open.
  • Collaboration with teaching faculty to provide instruction in information resources and strategies that can be tailored to any curriculum.
  • Telephone consultation for patrons during the hours the library is open.
  • Ask-a-Librarian web and e-mail access for students, faculty, and staff.
  • Development and of instructional guides and pathfinders housed online for on- and off-campus access.
  • Tours of the TCC Libraries, including the Library and the auxiliary services.

Reference Guidelines

The librarian scheduled to staff the reference desk is in charge of the entire service area.

The librarian should be available and visible at the reference desk and be prepared to provide assistance.

The librarian holds the ranking position and is primarily responsible for conducting reference transactions and teaching students how to use library resources.

Try to keep the reference desk area neat. Be sure to leave the desk in the same or better condition as you found it.

Under the direction of the librarian, the reference specialist provides routine reference assistance answering questions of moderate complexity and by being aware of students needing assistance. The reference specialist refers complicated reference and research questions to the librarian. The support staff member also troubleshoots equipment, answers directional questions, and assists students with printing and scanning.

Reference Statistics

Reference Interviews

The reference interview can be defined as "Interpersonal communication which occurs between a reference librarian and a library user to determine the specific information needs of the user. The interview usually occurs at the request of the user, but may be initiated by the librarian who perceives a need on the part of a user who has not asked for assistance. The purpose of a reference interview is for the librarian to understand the patron's information need - what information will be useful to them to resolve a problem or learn about something or whatever. When done right, the patron can go from a sort of general unease (anomalous state of knowledge[1]) to information in hand/on screen, confident [2], and off to make the world a better place. The librarian and the patron converge on a shared understanding of the problem, that can be translated into a query or a jaunt to the shelf." (LISWiki)

Information Resources

Information Literacy

“Ultimately, information literate people are those who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know

  •       how knowledge is organized,
  •       how to find information, and
  •       how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them.

They are people prepared for lifelong learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand.”

~American Library Association. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report.(Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.)


Librarians and coordinators cover LibChat 8:00-5:00 Monday through Thursday throughout the semester. In addition to local (TCC-only) chat, librarians monitor co-op for VCCS. The schedule is managed by Brittany Horn.

LibAnswers/LibChat Training Resources


A growing collection of FAQs help direct patrons to answers about accounts, resources, services, and more.

The procedures for tasks related to circulation and reference are also formatted as FAQs. These staff-only questions are not searchable on the public page.

Content created by TCC Libraries is licensed as CC BY 4.0