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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Reference Interview and Instruction in Reference Training

This guide accompanies the U of I Library graduate assistant training session.

What is a reference interview?

The reference interview is a collaborative effort in which the user seeks to understand and explain their information need and the library staff member seeks to understand the user's question and find and communicate the answer.

It is focused on:

  • Prioritizing the conversation
  • Taking an interest in each individual
  • Assessing research background and confidence
  • Addressing research anxiety
  • Building trust and developing an ongoing research relationship