Reference Policy

Last Updated Date

Wauconda Area Public Library District


Approved by the Board of Library Trustees December 10, 2018

Revised by the Board of Library Trustees February 14, 2022

1.0 Purpose

1.1 The purpose of this policy is to define the goals of reference service provided by the Wauconda Area Public Library District and to set guidelines for delivery of this service to the patron.

2.0 Terms

2.1 Reference Service

“Reference service” refers to the provision of answers, information, instruction, direction, and recommendations to patrons of all ages, either upon request or in anticipation of need, using all available resources.

2.2 Goals of Reference Service

  • To provide thorough, efficient, timely, accurate reference service and access to resources
  • To treat all requests for reference service with respect, impartiality, and confidentiality
  • To offer well-trained, approachable, knowledgeable staff to assist Library patrons
  • To select, acquire, and organize information and resources to meet the needs of the community
  • To utilize all of the Library’s technological resources and all means of communication in the provision of Library service
  • To inform patrons about services and resources available from the Library
  • To provide instruction in the use of Library resources as appropriate
  • To provide patrons with thoughtful referrals to other agencies and libraries as necessary
  • To provide easy access to accurate and up-to-date community information
  • To provide services and materials regardless of the race, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, background, appearance, or personal view of the patron making the inquiry

3.0 Standards and Ethics

3.1 In order to maintain the trust of the patron and respect of the profession, in their provision of reference service Library staff will act in accordance with federal and state laws, and the guidelines and standards of conduct as set forth by the American Library Association. Accordingly, all staff will:

  • Keep reference interactions confidential and respect each patron’s right to privacy with regard to information requested or materials sought or received, borrowed or loaned, as well as any resources consulted.
  • Provide answers to information requests only to the person with the original request, unless otherwise permitted by the patron.
  • Prevent personal beliefs from interfering with professional duties and make no judgments as to the legitimacy or value of any given request.

4.0 Scope of Reference Services

4.1 Staff will not provide the following kinds of assistance, which are deemed to be beyond the scope of the Library’s reference service responsibilities:

  • Interpretation, advice, or personal recommendations in any area other than the use of Library resources. This includes, but is not limited to, legal, medical, or tax advice.
  • Critiquing or editing patron documents, including resumes for job seekers.
  • Submitting forms (including online forms) for patrons. Assistance with learning how to fill out online forms in person or via remote reference software are permitted, but patrons must review and submit their own forms. Library staff are not responsible for accuracy or data security.
  • Solving or troubleshooting problems with patron’s personal computers or other electronic devices that goes beyond technological teaching & instruction (In such instances, staff is permitted to assist by attempting to locate relevant instructions and similar kinds of information for patrons).