Reference, Information & Readers’ Service Policies

for Adults and Children

It is the goal of the Information & Readers’ Services (Reference) Librarians to answer all
questions asked in person, by phone, mail, fax, or e-mail as accurately, completely and as
quickly as possible. Librarians conduct a reference interview to ascertain exactly what the
patron wants to know, and to decide what materials will best answer the patron’s
question. Every patron and question shall be treated with respect, and confidentiality.

• Librarians answer questions on a first come first serve basis except when demand is
so great that they must balance their time and resources to help as many patrons as
possible. When necessary names and telephone numbers will be taken to return calls,
even long distance telephone calls, or Librarians will excuse themselves to help others
and then return to continue helping the first patron.

• Librarians seek assistance from other staff members when it is busy, and from subject
specialists when needed to assist patrons.

• When materials are not available to answer questions, Librarians make referrals to
other libraries and agencies, and offer the use of the Interlibrary Loan system. (See
the Interlibrary Loan Policy.)

• Librarians offer instruction in the use of Library resources individually as needed and
as time permits and in classes.

• Librarians guide patrons in choosing materials for reading: Reader’s Advisory.

• Librarians should be alert to patron requests and needs, social trends, and the news,
ordering new materials and formats as needed. Librarians are assigned a particular
area of the collection to develop and most attend weekly Selection Meetings. (See
Collection Development Policy.)

• Reference materials do not circulate except for overnight loans that may be arranged
at the discretion of the Librarian at the Reference or Children’s Desk. Materials are
checked out 1/2 hour before closing and returned by opening of the next day. A New
Canaan Library Card is required.

• Dial-A-Book service is offered to the homebound. Library materials are mailed to a
homebound patron with the Library paying the postage fees for sending and mailing

• Librarians promote the use of materials and resources through displays, brochures,
lists, tours, classes, school and outreach visits, book talks and the Library website.
Librarians work with Teachers to display and limit loan periods on materials needed
for class assignments.

• Librarians schedule and monitor the use of library computers, the Internet (see
Internet Policy), Quiet Study Room, mini meeting rooms, typing room, Children’s
program room, Plaut Conference Room, and Adrian Lamb Room (see Meeting Room

• Librarians monitor public areas and deal with complaints from the public. Consult the
Library Safety and Security Manual for information on dealing with specific
problems. Complaints by the public should be handed from the Librarians to the
Department Head to the Director.

Library Guides

In an effort to shorten the waiting time for patrons with questions and to allow Reference
Librarians to spend more time with those who have in-depth research questions, the
Library and the Friends of the New Canaan Library started the Library Guide program.
Library Guides are specially trained volunteers who assist the Adult Information &
Readers’ Services staff by:

• providing quick answers to basic, single-component questions
• giving information about Library programs and hours
• answering the telephone and taking names and telephone numbers for call
• answering directional questions
• taking information for placing a hold
• demonstrating the use of the online catalog. Internet, & other online resources
• helping patrons to find materials on the shelf
• retrieving periodicals from the storage stacks
• monitoring the activity in the Periodical area
• demonstrating the use of and troubleshooting copiers and microfilm machines
• alerting staff to patrons in need


November 2002