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Librarianship: Genealogy Reference Interview
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The special nature of the field of genealogy creates unique challenges to the genealogy librarian during the reference interview. Librarians must successfully navigate this process in order to offer effective and quality service to the researcher. This course provides tools and strategies for assisting genealogists, including direction for analyzing questions, locating sources and matching them to the needs of the user. It draws on case studies and examples for students to interpret questions and decode materials. The course work includes application of the text to individual libraries and methods for evaluating and improving service.

Course Content

Module 1
Special Applications For Genealogists
The Effective Reference Interview
Cycle of the Reference Interview

Module 2
The Users
Clarifying the Question
Determine User Level
• Beginning Genealogists
• Starting Points
• Experienced Researchers
• New Users
• Specialized Researchers
User Identification
• Check List

Module 3
The Questions
Directional Requests
Knowledge-Based Strategies

Module 4
Standard Sources
Finding Sources
The Guides
• Reference guides
• Genealogical and occupational dictionaries
• Historical maps and gazetteers
• Guides to genealogical repositories
• Guides to records
• Guides to publishing family histories or documenting and citing evidence
The Data
• Census records
• Passenger lists
• Land ownership records
• Family history periodicals

Module 5
Connecting Users With The Sources - Part 1
Knowing Your Collection & Access Points - Matching Sources and Users
Searching for Materials without using Call Numbers or a Catalog
Using Intermediary Tools Other than the Catalog
Searching for materials using a catalog
• Web-based vs. DOS-based Systems
• Keyword Searching
• Browsing Functions
• System Defaults
• Customized Subject Fields
• Exclusions

Module 6
Connecting Users With The Sources - Part 2
Knowing your Collection & Access Points - Matching Sources and Users
Search Strategies
• Sample Question #1
• Sample Question #2

Module 7

Module 8
Interpreting Materials: Decoding Intermediary Sources
Assisting With Sources
• Check the Front of the Book
• Work Backwards
• Consult Sources External to the Index
Understand Various Types of Coding Systems
• Information about the Person
• Information about the Source

Module 9
User Satisfaction & Challenges
Determining User Satisfaction
Users with unrealistic expectations
• “I can do it in no time.”
• “You can do it for me.”
Users that fail to request the assistance they need
Users that lack the basic skills/information to conduct research
Users that won't give up
Barriers that librarians create

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