Reference Desk Services Policy

Reference Desk Services Mission 

The mission statement of the Billerica Public Library reads, “The Billerica Public Library is a dynamic force in literacy and learning through free and open access to diverse materials, innovative technology and programs that provide cultural and educational experiences, along with a capable and approachable staff to support users.” (LRP 2018-2022). 

Staff at the Reference Desk support the library’s mission by providing exemplary, personalized, confidential, and expert assistance with using the library, locating information, and utilizing technology to all patrons regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, disability, socio-economic status, or any other legally-protected status.  

Reference Desk Service Availability 

Reference desk services are typically provided to patrons in-person, over the phone (978-671-0948 ext. 4), through website chat, over SMS messaging (978-630-7733), and via email ([email protected]) all hours the library is open. Inquiries are answered in the order received, though in-person inquires may receive priority at the staff member’s discretion. 

If an inquiry or request for assistance cannot be answered during the initial request, staff will take down the patron’s contact information to follow up in a timely manner and/or schedule a time for in-depth one-on-one assistance.  

Library Specific Inquiries 

Reference staff are available to answer library specific inquires including (but not limited to): 

  • Assistance using print and online library resources 
  • Help locating library materials and/or placing holds 
  • Guidance on utilizing library provided technologies
  • Questions about library policies and services 
  • Assistance with registering for library programs 
  • Department referrals
  • Room bookings 

 Information Inquiries 

Reference staff will professionally and thoughtfully answer information inquiries utilizing reputable print and electronic resources. All information inquiries will be treated with the same level of care and attention, and staff will not include their personal opinions when providing assistance.  

For topics that include legal matters, health information, tax/financial information, appraisals, or product evaluation, staff can provide relevant information resources, but cannot provide interpretation or advice regarding the information, including its meaning and application. Staff are also unable to provide assistance with selecting or completing legal, health, or tax/financial forms, but can assist in locating agencies or services that can provide assistance.  

Technology Assistance 

Reference staff are able to help patrons with a variety of technology inquiries, including printing, scanning, copying, and emailing. Staff can also provide assistance with general Internet browsing/searching and with using Microsoft Office applications.  

Staff may ask a patron to make a one-on-one technology appointment if the inquiry would take longer than 15-minutes and/or they feel the patron would be better served by an appointment.  

 

*This policy was adapted from similar polices at the Chelmsford Public Library (MA) and Neptune Public Library (NJ). 

Adopted by vote of the Board of Library Trustees March 2021

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