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Reference: Reference Interview Tips

Guides for Troubleshooting the Technology used in the library.

Our philosophy

Our goals at the Reference Desk are:

  • To provide a consistently high level of user-friendly reference service to all library users. Our first priority is to be patient, inviting and approachable. We want our users to return, again and again, to the library's reference desk.
  • To identify a patron's specific information needs and to fill those needs by using the resources available, including the expertise of our library and other Hostos community colleagues.
  • To select, acquire, and organize sources of information, both print and electronic, to meet the changing needs of a dynamic reference collection.
  • To use reference interactions as "teachable moments" and guide our users in not only finding their information, but also instructing them on how to use our collections and resources.

As Reference Librarians at Hostos, we:

  • Are knowledgable about all of our resources and services within the library, and, to as much an extent possible, throughout the campus community.
  • Collaborate and communicate with our colleagues when we refer users to other areas of the library and the campus, so that users can communicate their needs effectively when they travel to a different unit in the library or elsewhere on campus.


Figure out what the user needs

Some students need help understanding their assignments and information needs. Here are some tips:

  • Ask to see their syllabus or assignments. If the student doesn't have a copy to show you, try logging into their Blackboard account and checking to see whether the professor posted the syllabus or assignments online, using Blackboard.
  • If the student doesn't know the book(s) s/he needs for a particular class and doesn't have a copy of the syllabus, and the professor didn't post the syllabus online, try searching the bookstore's website for the list of books the student needs.

Go the extra mile

  • After you help a student look up a call number, remind the student to write it down or take a picture of the number, especially if s/he needs to bring it upstairs to the reserve desk.
  • Don't limit your searches to print books. Encourage students to try using eBooks.
  • If you notice a student having trouble with technology, encourage him/her to register for EdTech workshops.