The Mission of the Neptune Public Library is Connecting People with Opportunities.
Reference Service Statements
Reference Service is available to all persons served by the Neptune Public Library regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, disability, socio-economic status, or any other legally-protected status.
Service to the public has priority over all other tasks. Simultaneous requests will be managed at the librarian’s discretion with regard to urgency, complexity and availability of staff resources. In-person, telephone, e-mail, and Internet reference requests will be handled in the order they are received. If the librarian cannot answer a request immediately, he or she will obtain contact information from the patron and see that the patron receives a response within twenty-four hours.
Referrals to Other Libraries or Agencies
If the librarian deems it appropriate to refer the patron to another library or agency, the staff member must verify that the material is at the agency. If it is not possible to call the agency immediately, the librarian will encourage the patron to call ahead before traveling to the agency. The librarian will provide the name, address, and telephone number of the agency to the patron. The librarian will verify this information if possible. Librarians should never refer patrons to individual practitioners — physicians, attorneys, mental health professionals, or others.
Librarians will rely upon information obtained from reputable sources in order to give the most accurate and authoritative answers to questions. Librarians should avoid giving personal opinions, philosophy, or evaluations; rather, they should rely upon information obtained from reputable sources. The library will always cite the source of the answer.
Instruction and Orientation Services
Instruction and orientation in library use may include group tours arranged in advance, individual instruction on how to use catalogs, reference tools, and the Internet, and steering patrons to online tutorials and other resources.
Specific Reference Desk Policies
Homework is intended to be a learning experience for the student. The role of the librarian is one of guidance in helping students find material or potential sources of information to complete homework assignments. Librarians will make every effort to assist students in locating the material needed for a class project. Students should use the material themselves to complete their assignments.
Librarians should treat simple, factual questions in the same manner as all other reference questions. Some contest questions are tricky and might have more than one answer that seems to be correct. The library cannot guarantee that the answer provided is the correct answer for any particular contest. Librarians will not conduct lengthy searches or interpret contest rules.
Librarians should help patrons locate objective product information by showing them how to use magazines, buying guides, and/or general indexes that may lead to product evaluations in other periodicals. Librarians should not give opinions about consumer products.
Book, Antique, and Art Appraisals
The library is not staffed with experts for making appraisals of books, works of art, antiques, coins, stamps, currency or other collectibles. Librarians may refer patrons to appropriate reference resources.
Critical Analysis of Literary Works
Librarians cannot provide personal critical analyses, interpretations, or judgments regarding the merit of literary or other works.
Librarians should provide general assistance in genealogical research and guidance in locating items in the collection. Librarians should not engage in actual genealogical research for patrons.
Compilations and Literature Searches
Librarians cannot prepare extensive compilations (bibliographies, lists, statistics, etc.) for patrons, nor can they undertake exhaustive literature searches. If patrons ask librarians to search the library’s holdings on a topic and to have materials ready for them to pick up, librarians may do a quick search in library databases and/or scan periodical citations and retrieve some relevant books. Librarians will hold retrieved materials for patrons at the Circulation desk. Librarians may offer to assist patrons in their research.
Librarians should not perform mathematical calculations for patrons. Librarians may read information from tables and other reference tools, but patrons should do their own calculations.
Medical and Legal Questions
The library does not provide advice or interpretation in the areas of medicine or law. Librarians cannot undertake legal searches or interpret legal reference sources. This would be regarded as practicing law.
Regarding telephone requests for medical information, librarians can only read brief definitions from authoritative sources. They should quote the sources verbatim, and they should inform the patron of the name of the quoted source.
Librarians should not provide advice in the interpretation of tax law or assistance in the selection of appropriate forms.
Electronic Information Retrieval
Librarians will use professional judgment to determine whether Internet resources are appropriate authoritative answers for questions. Librarians will offer suggestions to patrons who are using Internet workstations and will help within the limits of their expertise in determining whether a resource is authoritative. Librarians will not guarantee the validity of information retrieved from the Internet but will attempt to provide the patron with tools and contextual information that will help to evaluate the resource.
Loan of Reference Materials
The purpose of a reference collection is to assure library patrons of access to reference tools at all times that the library is open. Reference materials, therefore, will not circulate.
Adopted by the Library Board of Trustees
14 October 2005