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Reference Assistance

Madison Public Library staff provides knowledgeable, personalized assistance to help customers find information and select and use library resources.

Library staff treats all requests, and the customers who make them, with respect. Appropriate assistance is provided courteously and impartially to all, regardless of age, background, disability, origin or views.

Staff uses information based on accurate and authoritative print or online sources, or learned from a reliable authority. The source for an answer is cited.

No two reference questions are the same. Simple queries are usually answered quickly and fully. More complex questions may require the customer's participation in the information search, with staff providing professional assistance and instruction. Staff can serve as a research consultant, providing guidance and advice on the search strategy and process. In some instances, staff may need to limit the amount of time and level of response provided to a customer.

For those people seeking recommendations for books or other library materials to suit their particular tastes and interests, staff suggests a selection of specific titles. In addition to relying on their professional knowledge and experience, staff consults print, on-line and other sources.

Formal and informal instruction in the use of information resources is provided.

Customers make their requests by telephone, on-line, fax, letter, or in person at any location of the Madison Public Library. Responses are provided in the most expedient and convenient way possible for the customer.

Madison Public Library provides reference services to the residents of Madison and the seven-county South Central Library System, as well as to people from other areas of the state based on contractual agreements and the statewide resource-sharing plan. Requests about the Madison area received from people who reside outside the South Central Library System are also accepted. Others are handled as time permits, or the customer is referred to his/her local library.

All library transactions are confidential under Wisconsin Statute 43.30.

The Library follows the standards set by the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association, 1995, and complies with the Code of Ethics set forth in Madison Public Library Policy and Procedures section 2.25 and the Madison General Ordinances section 3.47.

This policy was approved by the Library Board on August 16, 2001.