Reference service is more than answering questions. Discovering and meeting information needs is a process that involves finding the real information need behind the questions. The reference process involves open communication between you and the patron, working until the need is met.
It is the obligation of the library staff to provide the best service possible in order to meet the needs of its users. Not only is it a basic obligation of the library to see that its patron/users are well served, but quality reference and information services result in excellent public relations in which the library is held in high regard by its local citizens.
THE REFERENCE INTERVIEW
The user’s need cannot be met unless the librarian understands the question. Often the patron fails to clearly state the need. The librarian’s adage- the first question asked is not the real need-is often true. In order to determine the need, the librarian must be skilled at asking questions. This process of question negotiated is termed the ‘reference interview’. The primary objectives of the reference interview are to determine the real need as well as how much and what kind of data is needed.
In addition to learning what kind and how much information the user needs, the librarian often must determine whether basic or more sophisticated information is appropriate. It also may be important to learn what information the patron has already gathered in order to avoid duplication. Knowing when the information is needed is essential if the question is likely to result in a complex search.
STEPS OF THE REFERENCE PROCESS
1. Encouraging the patron to contact the library when there is information need (outreach).
2. Finding out what the real information need is (the reference interview).
3. Finding the information that will meet the need (reference search).
4. Making sure the patron's need really has been met (follow-up).
An under graduate comes into the library requesting for information regarding Nigeria general election result. In order to provide the needed information that would satisfy her information need, the following conversation took place;
Patron: have you got anything on Nigeria general election results?
Librarian: what type of information would you like about Nigeria general election?
Patron: I’m writing a paper on the election results
Librarian: which of the election results would you need, 1979, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 election results?
Patron: the 2011 April general election
Librarian: which of the April election in particular, national or state assemblies, governorship or presidential election results
Patron: all election results conducted in April.
Librarian: would you like a comprehensive list of the political parties involved, the contestants, the type of election and results?
Patron: yes. That would be great.
FINDING THE ANSWER
Once the need has been established, the next step is to find the answer. Answering questions is problem solving. The patron presents a problem, and the librarian, having clarified it through an interview, attempts to find a solution. Considering the fact the election was held couple of weeks back, the internet would be the most preferred reference source. I would search the internet to get reliable web sites that provide adequate information to the patron’s need.
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure to support electronic mail.
The Internet, sometimes called simply "the Net," is a worldwide system of computer networks - a network of networks in which users at any one computer can, if they have permission, get information from any other computer (and sometimes talk directly to users at other computers).
The "internet" is a gigantic library, as well as a world-wide message board, telephone network, and publishing medium. It is open 24 hours a day, and you can find anything you want there, and say anything you want, as well as current events and blogs, information about almost any subject is available in depth and up to date. This is incredibly valuable for every subject you can imagine. Almost every college and government research organization is "on the web", along with libraries, educational institutions, associations, and many commercial directories and sites,
• Information on the Internet can be hyperlinked. This permits both information professionals to assemble large bodies of information from a wide variety of sources without actually having to store the information in one place; e.g., on paper or a hard disk.
• Hyperlinks within information on the Internet enable users to find or cite additional sources of pertinent information.
• Information on the Internet is searchable. Search engines such as Google enable users to find information on every imaginable topic.
• Intelligent agents can be programmed to search the Internet for particular information and inform the user of the existence and location of that information. In fact, these agents can harvest pertinent information and deliver it to the user's desktop.
• Information on the Internet originates from world-wide sources.
• The internet provides current information
After a thorough internet search, the following websites were found to contain useful and reliable information with regards to 2011 April general election results.
II. Follow the events via Twitter ::: INEC News ::: News Sources (local) ::: News Sources (International)
III. INEC website: http://www.inecnigeria.org/: The Official umpire - Read about the organization ::: Download the election rules ::: Reports ::: Election time-table ::: List of Political parties
IV. Presidential Candidates: Analysis of some candidates >> PointBlank ::: The Nigerian Voice
XII. General Muhammadu Buhari: Website ::: News (Local) ::: News International
XIII. President Goodluck Jonathan: Website ::: News (Local) ::: News International
XIV. Malam Nuhu Ribadu: Website ::: News (Local) ::: News International
XV. Governor Ibrahim Shekarau: Website ::: News (Local) ::: News International