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November 17, 2018
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Library Board Policies - Information Services

Information Services, in the broadest sense, is one of the library’s core businesses. For the purposes of this policy manual, the term is used to describe those services which the Library provides to connect customers to appropriate resources in fulfilment of their informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs.  Emphasis is on providing a uniform standard service of the highest quality possible consistent with available time and resources. This policy will also serve as a guideline and resource for public service staff.

Service Objectives

Information Services is defined as reference assistance in which staff work with patrons to clarify their question(s), explore the type of resources needed to answer these questions and to locate and supply those resources. It also includes facilitating patron access to services outlined in the Board’s Operational Policy. Program registration and proctoring services are also provided.

Staff will meet the information needs of library patrons as efficiently, accurately and as completely as possible. Staff will assist or educate the patron to navigate through those resources and may demonstrate how to use the various tools and resources available in print, on-line or in other formats using various technologies. Staff will provide the following services: quick reference that can usually be answered immediately; and general reference that usually requires a lengthier interaction and involves a number of sources to arrive at an answer.

Staff will refer customers to other libraries, agencies and community resources if unable to find an answer using HHPL’s resources. The library subscribes to and participates in the interlibrary loan conventions applicable regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally. The specific provisions and criteria governing the library’s Information Services and interlibrary lending can be found in the Board’s Resource Sharing Policy.

In order to meet these objectives, access to an up-to-date, relevant and readily accessible working collection of electronic and paper materials is vital. Collection acquisitions and maintenance are regulated in accordance with the Halton Hills Public Library’s Material Selection Policy.

Guiding Principles

Patrons will be served in accordance with the Board’s Service Policy. Patrons will be served with respect and courtesy, in a non-discriminatory, timely manner. Staff will accord equal attention and effort to each information request. Time spent by staff may vary in response to resources available. All staff is responsible for making each transaction a positive experience.

Staff must provide access to library material in accordance with the Canadian Library Association’s Statement on Intellectual Freedom (Appendix #4). No pre-selection or censoring of information will be undertaken based on staff perception of patron needs.

Personal philosophies and values will be set aside in recognition of each individual’s right to have requests for information treated with courtesy and respect. Similarly staff will not attempt to interpret legal, medical, technical, mathematical or other specialized information when answering information requests. Staff is encouraged to direct clients to the best, or the most appropriate material while acknowledging the full range of information.

Professional judgement and initiative are encouraged to satisfy patron information needs. When appropriate, staff will consult with colleagues when such collaboration could assist in answering questions.

Confidentiality of patron information will be upheld in accordance with the Board’s Confidentiality and Retention of Patron Information Policy. Similarly, staff will strive to deliver services in accordance with the Diversity and Inclusion Policy.

Priorities of Service

Information service will be provided to all questions received whether the question is delivered in person, in writing, through telecommunication or electronically. Questions are taken in sequence and answered on basis of priority.  Priority will be given first to in-person inquiries, and secondly to telephone requests.  Other forms of inquiry will be dealt with in sequence and/or by evaluating the apparent or expressed degree of urgency.

Statistical Measure

To assess and evaluate information services and to comply with the requirements of the Annual Survey of Public Libraries, statistics on references questions will be kept and analysed.

Revised/Approved:   April 11, 2018

Revised/Approved:  February 11, 2015

Next Scheduled Review:  February 2022