In the Beginning….

Since users may not always be sure about what they want or need, librarians are available to help. In these instances, a process of negotiation or mediation takes place where the librarian helps the user clarify the question in the user’s mind. According to author Karen Markey, “Without doubt, the negotiation of reference questions is one of the most complex acts of human communication.” Asking a combination of open and closed questions is usually helpful in this process. Once the question or query is understood, the librarian can begin to guide the user on his search for information. Once the patron is ready to work independently, it is always important to the leave the door open by letting the patron know that you are available to help them further if need be. This process of scaffolding prepares the user to begin searching.

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