stacked books

SSD Home

Social Sciences Division Service Policy

Minimum Standards for Reference Service In Social Sciences Division Libraries

Approved: 2/2/94; Revised April 14, 2006

Service values lie at the core of actual service provision. In accordance with the Library Service Values statement >, we will treat all users with courtesy; respond to service requests as accurately and quickly as possible; project a sense of engagement, professionalism and competence in delivering services to users; refer users to other service points only when we are sure that relevant help will be found there; provide users with quick, accurate access to the collection; enable users to be self-reliant; endeavor to provide a pleasant physical environment for our users; continuously seek to improve our service in any way we can; and treat our own staff with courtesy, responsiveness, and care.

I. Staffing and Information Skills

A. Library Personnel will be conscious of their role as a representative of the unit, the University Library, and the University of Illinois.

B. Professional staff (librarian, graduate assistant, or academic professional) typically are available 9am-5pm, 6-9pm Monday - Friday; 1-5pm Saturday; and 1-5pm, 6-9pm Sunday in larger units. Smaller units should have professional staff available at least four hours daily Monday - Friday.

C.Classified staff typically is available from 8:30am - 12noon, 1 - 5pm Monday - Friday.

Library hours vary among the Social Sciences Division. Library locations and telephone numbers are available on printed schedules in each library, or on the following Web site:

D. All Library personnel should draw on their user interactions as an opportunity to enhance their knowledge of resources available, particularly in their own library. Exploration of library resources is encouraged. Student assistants, staff, and graduate assistants must be trained to refer patrons to the librarian when necessary.

E. Librarians should know the online databases in their respective disciplines and be able to direct users to available search services.

F. Student assistants in all units should offer to be helpful within the limits of what they know. All other Library personnel should be able to meet these minimum guidelines as well as have knowledge needed for their specific job assignments. Specifically, student assistants should be trained in the following areas:

  1. Telephone requests - Students need to be trained to make referrals to the Telephone Center and to provide information as to the location and hours of the UIUC libraries. Students working in smaller units should be knowledgeable of the University Library Gateway in providing access to the online catalog, article databases, full-text journals and electronic reference resources. In addition students should be able to make referrals to the Central Information Desk and other UIUC libraries.

  2. Messages - Students should be capable of forwarding clear and concise messages so that librarian or staff can respond to patron's request.

  3. Location - Students should be able to provide accurate, simple directions to libraries within the Main Library and to libraries in other buildings. A campus map should be available as an aid. In smaller units, students should also be aware of special locations within their library, i.e., reference section, thesis collection, new books, special collections, periodicals, etc.

  4. Students working in small units should be able to verify whether UIUC has a particular item through the circulation terminal, through the University Library Gateway online catalog, and can search for items through electronic reserves.

  5. Serials - Students working in small units should be able to interpret their library's serial check-in file.

II. Approachability   

A. Professional and classified staff and student assistants

1. Provide a friendly and welcoming environment. Greet users with a pleasant expression, speak with respect and courtesy. Willing to help users and provide prompt service. Maintain a professional presence and a clean, neat and well-organized service area.

2. Treat users with respect during interactions, regardless of culture, religious beliefs, gender, race, physical/mental abilities, age, economic status, political views, etc.

3. Listen attentively to patron's request. Maintain a positive tone of voice and courteous manner. Determine what the patron already has done to seek the needed information. Inquiries are answered in a timely manner. Student assistants should refer unanswered queries as soon as possible to professional staff and notify the patron of the referral.

4. Knowledgeable in common procedures and policies of the Library; provide users with clear, easy to understand and accurate information.

III. Reference requests

A. In-person requests

  1. Library staff should answer ready reference questions when appropriate tools are available, including print or electronic reference resources, or should be able to refer users to more appropriate library, librarian, or other source of information.

  2. Users whose information needs require research should be assisted by means of instruction; i.e., librarians in departmental libraries are available for one-on-one assistance in the use of various research resources relevant to the student's needs. These resources include the University Library Gateway which provides access to a wide variety of electronic resources, including the online catalog, article databases, full-text journals and other reference sources. As part of the reference interaction, Library personnel should incorporate instruction enabling Library users to become more independent.

B. Off-site requests

Telephone, e-mail, fax and other electronic requests

IV. Environment

Ensure that physical environment will be conducive to learning and will be clean, comfortable and safe.

Suggestions for Implementing the Minimum Standards for Service in Social Sciences Division Libraries

The following suggestions may be affected by negotiated agreements with designated staff groups in the library.

To implement the Minimum Standards, orientation and training programs may need to address the following points:




In addition to the service areas noted above, orientation and training programs should include the following established Library procedures:

Policies established within individual units may provide additional guidance and support beyond the orientation and training programs. For example, units could elect to establish policies for: