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Guide for staff working at the Reference Desk or on LibChat


Our Vision (things we believe; things we aspire to)

  • Librarians and library staff providing reference service are an important academic resource, ally, and community connector for our students, and a support for faculty teaching.
  • The help we provide matters for our students' success.
  • We strive to be welcoming, proactive, and responsive to the needs of students, encouraging a respectful and productive atmosphere.
  • Students who receive quality service are better prepared to succeed with the assignment at hand, but also become better oriented to the library and its services to help ensure future success in academia and beyond.
  • We seek to cultivate academic values in our students: the courage to ask for help, curiosity, creative and critical thinking, academic integrity, and responsibility.
  • It is important that we provide equitable access to services and resources for anyone who seeks help.
  • Our service rests on collaboration and teamwork, with shared responsibility, accountability, and diligence.
  • Through provision of reference services we gain satisfaction, a greater understanding of our students and their needs, as well as greater understanding of Hostos courses, professors, and their assignments and assumptions.

Our Mission (what we do)

  • Librarians and library staff providing reference service serve our users in multiple ways: we provide a welcoming environment, educate and mentor students, and help connect them with the Hostos community and other resources.
  • We support faculty teaching and information discovery by college administration or staff members.
  • We cultivate new understanding, relying on our knowledge of the nature and process of academic research, of the institution, our technology knowledge and skills, and our extensive experience with information seeking strategies.
  • We serve with empathy for all library users, listening, using terminology familiar to our users, asking follow-up questions, and defusing stressful or confrontational situations.a
  • Depending on their needs, students walk away with: greater understanding of their information needs, necessary resources, understanding of their next steps, an ability to act independently, and/or a greater understanding of the nature and process of academic research.
  • All library users gain an understanding of the kinds of help they can get from our reference services.

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.