Conducting the Reference Interview, Third Edition

This title will be available Winter 2018. You may place an order and the item will be shipped when it becomes available.

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ALA Member: 
$ 76.50
Item Number: 
ALA Neal-Schuman
8 12"
AP Categories: 
A, C, I
  • Description
  • About the Authors
  • Reviews

Based on the latest research in communication theory but tailored specifically for real-world application, this updated manual speaks equally to the needs of students preparing to enter the profession and those who are already fielding reference inquiries. The authors, working in consultation with a stellar advisory board of scholars and practitioners, present a convenient and comprehensive resource that will teach you how to understand the needs of public, academic, and special library users across any virtual setting—including email, text messaging, and social media—as well as in traditional and face-to-face models of communication. Packed with exercises and examples to help you practice effective reference transactions and avoid common pitfalls, this book

  • tackles the fundamentals of the reference interview, from why it’s important in the first place to methods for setting the stage for a successful interview and techniques for finding out what the library user really wants to know;
  • covers the ins and outs of the readers’ advisory interview;
  • examines a wide range of contexts, such as children, young adults, parents, seniors, adults from diverse communities, and those with disabilities;
  • presents case studies of innovative reference and user encounters at a variety of libraries;
  • offers updated coverage of virtual reference, including new research, virtual reality transcripts, and a look at crowd-sourcing reference via social media;
  • features new content on common microaggressions, with guidance on how to use awareness of emotion as a factor in reference interactions to ensure better outcomes;
  • discusses topics such as respecting/protecting privacy, overcoming assumptions, implicit judgement, the importance of context, determining the real information need, and many other lessons learned from challenging reference encounters; and
  • thoroughly addresses policy and training procedures, as well as the unique challenges faced by paraprofessionals and non-degreed staff.

Find your bearings in the continually evolving hybrid reference environment through proven strategies, advice, exercises, and research from three experts in the field.

Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use.

Catherine Sheldrick Ross

Catherine Sheldrick Ross is Professor Emerita at the University of Western Ontario. She has taught graduate courses in reference services, readers' advisory work, and research methods in the MLIS and PhD programs at Western. She has presented more than fifty workshops on reference and readers’ advisory to library professionals in the United States and Canada. Together with Patricia Dewdney and Kirsti Nilsen, she has co-written Communicating Professionally (ALA 2013), now in its third edition. She is a four-time winner of the Reference Services Press Award. In 2013, she received NoveList’s Margaret E. Munroe Award given by the American Library Association for “significant contributions to library adult services.” She has published extensively in the areas of reference services, readers’ advisory, and pleasure reading, including: The Pleasures of Reading (2014), Reading Matters (2006), and Reading Still Matters (2018), the latter two co-authored with Lynne (E. F.) McKechnie and Paulette M. Rothbauer.

Kirsti Nilsen

Kirsti Nilsen taught introductory and advanced courses in reference, as well as government information, collection development, special libraries, and information policy while a professor in the MLIS program at the University of Western Ontario and, earlier, as an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, where she completed her PhD. Her library experience includes employment at  MIT and the University of Rhode Island, and as special librarian in a corporate libraries. She was a coauthor on the first and second editions of Conducting the Reference Interview with Catherine Ross, with whom she is also co-author of the third edition of Communicating Professionally. In addition, she is the author of The Impact of Information Policy and coauthor of Constraining Public Libraries: The World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services, and author of many articles.

Marie L. Radford

Marie L. Radford, Ph.D. is Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science at Rutgers University, NJ. An award-winning author, her latest books are Library Conversations: Reclaiming Interpersonal Communication Theory for Understanding Professional Encounters with Gary Radford (2017, ALA Editions) and Research Methods in Library and Information Science, Sixth Edition with Lynn S. Connaway (2017, Libraries Unlimited). She gives frequent keynote speeches and presentations at national and international library conferences and publishes extensively in prestigious LIS journals. She presents numerous workshops/webinars on topics that include: interpersonal communication in library contexts, service excellence, time management, managing change, conflict management, and positive approaches to problematic people. She is Co-PI of the “Seeking Synchronicity” (with Lynn Silipigni Connaway) and “Cyber Synergy” (with Lynn Silipigni Connaway and Chirag Shah) grant projects funded by IMLS, Rutgers, and OCLC. She received the 2010 ALA/RUSA Mudge Award for distinguished contributions to reference.

Praise for the second edition

"The text is a fast read, and the tips and techniques can be immediately applied to improve reference service. Well written and organized, Conducting the Reference Interview is sure to be a favorite among librarians. Bibliographic reference and an index are included."
--Serials Review
"The most compelling reason to read this volume is the amount and quality of knowledge and expertise, based on both research and experience, which come through in just about every sentence ... Every library school student should read this book, and it will be useful to many practicing librarians as a renewing and motivating refresher course in public service. It is most highly recommended."
--Journal of the Medical Library Association
"Conducting the Reference Interview is essential reading for newcomers to the reference desk, as well as librarians who have served our profession for years. Supervisors will find it an effective tool for evaluating staff performance, librarians will find it helpful for day-to-day reference transaction analysis, and students will find it to be a pragmatic guide for assessing and enhancing their reference communication skills."
--Reference and User Services Quarterly
"A thorough, well-arranged book... Conducting the Reference Interview would be an excellent text to use in reference courses in library schools and for further training for reference staffs in libraries."
--Catholic Library World
"This outstanding work is highly recommended for all libraries and is essential reading for all LIS educators and librarians involved in staff training."
"An excellent manual for personal development as well as for training."
--American Libraries
"Valuable to anyone learning to be a reference librarian in addition to the librarian wishing to know more about the reference interaction and how it can be improved."
--ARBA Online