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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Reference Interview Training

Reference Interview Training

Question Negotiation Practice


In groups of about four, divide into librarians and patrons.

  • Patrons select a topic from the Topics for Reference Interview handout and approach the librarians at the "desk"
  • Librarians begin the reference interview by restating the question and then using the open and closed questions in the box below this one
  • Keep in mind what we discussed about how to negotiate the question as well as incorporating RUSA behavioral guidelines 1, 2, and 3
  • Reverse roles
  • Share experiences with the whole group

Open and Closed Questions

Open Questions

  • Can you give me an example of the kind of information you are looking for on...?
  • What interests you about...?
  • Could you describe the type of information you are hoping to find about...?
  • How in-depth would you like your research to be?

Closed Questions

  • What class is this for?
  • How many and what types of sources do you need for this paper?
  • Do you need background information, statistics, or research studies?