Once the patron's question has been successfully negotiated it is necessary to create a search strategy to begin to locate information. It is your job to help the user understand what this means and why it is important.
Why is a search strategy important?
How is a search strategy constructed?
The following example shows how a patron's question can be used to identify keywords and concepts in preparation for searching. The keywords and keyword phrases are highlighted.
"I need some information about the impact of exercise on the mental health of college students."
It is also helpful to brainstorm alternative keywords (think synonyms) for each of the keywords identified. These will provide additional options to use in a search if the initial keywords do not yield adequate results.
Exercise: physical activity, running, weight lifting
Mental health: depression, anxiety, happiness
College students: undergraduates, freshmen, students
Using the information you learned about your patron in the course of your reference interview, select a database to begin searching.
Help the patron understand how to enter the keywords into the database or catalog search boxes.
Too much information? Show the patron how to focus their search by adding additional keywords or substituting a related keyword.
Too little information? Show the patron how to broaden their search by removing keywords or substituting a broader keyword.