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*Reusable Content*

This is a how-to guide and repository for reusable content, maintained by the LibGuides Steering Committee.


Referrals:  Why, When, Who

  • The best answer may be “I don’t know, but I will refer you to a librarian who can help you.”
  • Try this option first:  Reference Desk is open 10 am – 6 pm M-Th, 10 am - 4 pm Fri, noon - 4 pm Sat., and 1 - 5 pm Sun. Librarians are on-call at other times.
  • Find a relevant subject guide, refer to the librarian listed.
  • Always available:  chat; Ref email answers with in a day or so.
  • Direct to subject librarians
    (give out business cards).

Reference Training on the Web

"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." --Definition from the Reference and User Services Association of ALA.

FAQ Quiz

These are commonly-asked questions.  How many can you answer?

1. Where is the nearest bathroom?

2.  Where are the copiers?

3.  Where is Special Collections?

4.  Where is ICC?

5.  What floor is E457.45 .G66 2005 on?

6.  Where are the Qatar stacks?

7.  How can I print?

8.  Where is the microfilm?

9.  I need to watch a video.  Where can I do that?

10.  Is the library open on Saturday?

11.  I lost my umbrella.

12.  How do I connect to the wireless network?

13.  The toilet is overflowing on the fourth floor.

14.  I think the library should purchase this book.

15.  Is Special Collections open on Sunday?

16.  Where are the books on Ireland?

17.  I’m having trouble connecting to JSTOR from off campus.  It asks for a username and password.

18.  Does the library have Journal of Democracy?

19.  Does the library have Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century African History?

20.  Where is Y4.1.89/1:H.Rp809?

21.  Where can I find 960.2 C264, B7?

22.  Where is Blommer?

23.  The library doesn’t have the book I need.

24.  Who is the bibliographer responsible for Asian Studies?

25.  Can I check out the books on the New Book Shelf?

26.  I graduated from Georgetown.  Is there any way I can access databases from home?

27.  How do I request an appointment?

28.  I’m looking for PN 56 .K64 S43 1997.  It’s not on the fifth floor.

29.  How do I get to an electronic book off campus?

30.  I think there is an exhibit here on Georgetown Crew.

31.  I’m just starting my paper.  Where can I find information on the Peloponnesian War?

32.  I’d like to reserve the Dubin classroom.

33.  Where is a pencil sharpener?

34.  I don’t know how to find this:  HG 4530 .L59 2008.

35.  Where is SPCOLL BOWEN?

Complex Reference Questions


These are questions that may need to be referred to a librarian; however, what steps could you take to help the patron in the meantime?

1. I need literary criticism of the works of Chinua Achebe.


2. I need financial information on AIG.


3. I need market share information for the pharmaceutical industry.


4. I have a topic in mind for my thesis (or dissertation) and I want to make certain no one else has written on exactly the same topic.  How can I do this?


5. Can I have some statistics on trade between China and Nigeria?  Like, what is the dollar amount of exports from China to Nigeria in a recent year?


6. What is the size of the Russian army?


7.  I need information on immigrants to the United States 1950-1980 by age, nationality and occupation.


8. What are the divorce rates in the U.S. for 1985-2000?


9. I need to know data on coffee production in El Salvador for the last few years.


10.  I’m looking for books and articles on the influence of American jazz on the music of Great Britain.


11.  I can’t find any books on the impact of NAFTA on Mexican agriculture.


12.  I need to find journal articles on obesity in children in the United States and what schools are doing about the problem.


13.  I need books and articles about Voodoo, especially Nkisi or Minkisi for a 20-page paper for a religion class. 


14.  I’m looking for current, specific changes in laws on detention of terrorists in Great Britain and some other countries.  I’ve already tried the legal portion of LexisNexis without any luck


15.  I’m doing a research paper for a military history course on the Civil War, Battle of the Wilderness, Fredericksburg, 1864.


16.  I need to know how women in Congress have affected public policy in the United States, especially concerning violence. 


17.  I’m looking for primary sources about the British explorer John Moresby, who explored New Guinea. 


18.  I want maps of China showing Tibet as an independent state, before 1940


19.  I need to know if a French sculptor named “Camille Demesmay” is a man or a woman. 


20.  I want articles on brown fat or brown adipose tissue in Neanderthals. 


21.  I want scholarly articles on the film, “Boyz N the Hood.” 


22.  I’m a Georgetown nursing school alumna and would like to find pictures of the nursing school at Georgetown. 


23.  I need to know how to cite a page I found on the National Institute for Literacy website.



Reference Interview Questions

Encourage the patron to describe his/her information need.  The more the patron can tell you, the easier it is to determine what resources would satisfy the need. Avoid yes/no questions.

Sample Open Questions

  • "What sort of thing are you looking for?
  • "What have you done about this question so far?
  • "What aspect of X concerns you?
  • "Perhaps if you tell me more about this problem [project], I could make some suggestions.
  • "Can you give me an example?
  • "What requirements do you have (for the project, design etc.)?"

--From Conducting the Reference Interview p.89

Sample Sense-Making Questions

  • "What are you working on?
  • "Where do you see yourself going with this?
  • "What would you like to know about X?
  • "What would help you?"

From Conducting the Reference Interview p. 98

Basic Question Answering Tools

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