Information Services

TPL-SER-04_Information Services

The Timmins Public Library’s information service links people with resources to fulfill their informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs. This policy describes reference services at the Library and guides library staff when answering information questions.

1.0  Objectives: It is the policy of the Timmins Public Library to answer all reference and information questions efficiently, and accurately and as completely as possible, within reason, and to assist patrons with the use of the Library and its resources.  If it is not possible to find an answer using Timmins Public Library resources, library staff will refer patrons to other libraries, agencies and community resources, to the best of their abilities.

2.0  Intellectual Freedom: Library staff must support and implement the principles and practices embodied in the current Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries.  Any questions asked will be answered without judgement, regardless of personal views.

3.0  Courtesy and Interest: All patrons seeking help at the Library will be greeted with respect and courtesy, and in a friendly manner. Everyone will be treated equally regardless of factors such as heritage, education, beliefs, race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental capabilities, language or income.  All questions will be considered important and legitimate, unless it becomes clearly apparent that they are otherwise. (See 7.0 Limitations of Service)

4.0  Privacy: Library staff must protect the privacy of each individual Library user. Patrons are not asked to identify themselves in any way before reference service is provided. If an individual or institution requests information about an individual user, for whatever reason, including what that person has read in the past, Library staff have a duty to protect the user’s right to privacy. (See the Confidentiality and Protection of Privacy policy, TPL-GEN-07)

5.0  Type of Service: The staff will assist patrons in finding information and will provide instruction on how to use library resources based upon the patron’s needs. Staff provide the following services:

a) Quick Reference: Questions that require specific factual answers, such as the name of a local MP, are known as “quick reference” and often can be answered immediately using quick internet searches or resources kept close to the reference desk.

b) General Reference: General reference requires a lengthier search and the use of a number of sources to arrive at a complete answer. The staff will guide and assist the patron pursuing this search while simultaneously providing, as required, instruction in how to search and use Library resources, including electronic resources, to the best advantage.

c) Readers’ Advisory: Readers’ advisory is the activity of recommending books and other library material to patrons and helping them identify their reading, listening, and viewing preferences. Library staff will assist patrons by making an informed referral about the material utilizing the criteria each patron and staff have established together.

d) Consultation: Staff will attempt, to the best of their abilities, to provide consultative assistance in refining more difficult questions and will show alternative methods of approach. The level of assistance will be based upon the patron’s needs and capacities, and staff time constraints.

e) Location of Material: The staff will help patrons to find specific desired items in the Library. If the material is not immediately available, assistance will be given by reserving material. If the Library does not own the item, assistance will be provided by means of borrowing from another library.

f) Library Orientation: Library staff will provide information on library orientation and instruction to each new individual joining the Library. Library staff will schedule formal library orientation to groups as requested.

g) Instruction and Student Assistance: An important component of the duties of the library staff is that of familiarizing the patron with all library services and giving instruction in the use of the public access catalogue, digital resources, Internet, genealogical resources, microform reader/printer, and other library materials

6.0  Limitations of Service:

a)      Commercial products and/or services: Library staff do not provide recommendations on commercial products and/or services in response to queries but will refer patrons to sources of information on these topics.

b)      Genealogical questions: Genealogical searches and compilations of family trees will not be undertaken by library staff.  Catalogue assistance and help locating standard reference resources are offered.  Advanced genealogical questions or requests for extensive assistance are generally referred to Généalogie Timmins Genealogy.

c)      Interpretation of material: Library staff do not interpret information, such as legal, medical, financial, statistical information or class assignments.

d)      Appraisals of books and artifacts: Library staff do not appraise the private property of patrons.  Patrons will be referred to in-house resources, or advised to consult a professional appraiser.  Specific appraisers will not be recommended.

e)      Bibliographies: Library staff will not compile or check bibliographies, but will offer assistance to patrons in the use of bibliographic tools.

f)       Proofreading/Editing/Writing/Typing and Data-entry: Library staff will not provide these services to patrons.

g)      Technical Help: Library staff cannot provide in-depth training but are able to offer searching suggestions and answer questions when time allows. Due to legal and privacy issues, Library staff are unable to enter personal, business, or financial information on behalf of an Internet user.

h)      Liability: The Library assumes no liability for any misinformation and/or interpretations drawn from sources cited in response to queries.

7.0  Assistance: Library staff may request assistance from other staff members to ensure questions are answered as completely as possible. If challenging questions or situations arise, staff are encouraged to consult with their supervisor for support and assistance.

8.0  Priorities of Service: The duty of providing information services takes precedence over assigned duties. Patrons needing information services will receive full staff attention.

The extent of individual service to each person will depend on the number of patrons needing to be served. The following priorities will apply.

1st priority – requests presented in person
2nd priority – requests presented by telephone/voicemail
3rd priority – requests sent in by mail/e-mail
4th priority – requests received via the interlibrary loan network

9.0  Statistics: To assess and evaluate information services, and to comply with the requirements of the Annual Survey of Public Libraries, statistics on reference questions will be kept and analyzed.


TPL-GEN-07 Confidentiality and the Protection of Privacy policy

TPL-SER-05 Interlibrary Loan

Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA) Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries

Library staff reserve the right to refuse to answer intrusive personal questions.