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Library reference desk

The reference desk or information desk of a library is a public service desk where professional librarians offer help to library users.

Library users can consult the staff at the desk for help in finding a book or journal article, using the library's online catalog and other electronic resources, and even -- perhaps most essentially -- with specific, factual questions. Typically, a reference desk can be consulted either in person or by telephone, although a library user should come to the library in person for all but the simplest research questions. A staffed and knowledgeable reference desk is frequently regarded an essential part of a library.

This article, library reference desk describes the effective use of the services of a reference desk by the general public. Library reference services, on the other hand, will be used to describe the academic research and theory of this subdiscipline of library and information science as well the practical methods of providing reference services from the librarian's point of view.

The services that are provided at a reference desk may vary depending on the type of library, its purpose, its resources, and its staff.

Resources that are often kept at a library reference desk may include:

Services that are often available at a library reference desk may include: The librarian who sits at the reference desk can usually do the following by virtue of their professional training and experience: The library staff member that sits at a reference desk is generally required to have a Masters in Library Science. However, if there is a lack of qualified applicants, particularly in rural areas of the country, a person with an Associate Degree or a Certificate in Library Technology may be performing these duties if they have made up the difference with practical experience while working in a library.

Just as the employees of retail stores know where everything is shelved in their store, librarians are experts in the arrangement of items in their library, and the information in them, as well as how information is organized outside the library. Library users are encouraged not to be shy about asking a reference librarian for help. Even though some librarians may appear busy working on a project, their primary duty when they are at the desk is to help library users find what they are looking for.

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