The Agnes Robinson Waterloo Public Library provides Reference and Reader’s Advisory service to help people find information, select library materials and use library and other information resources. Staff responds to varied information needs using the library collections to the fullest extent possible and identifying sources beyond the library whenever necessary. Staff uses professional judgment to assess needs and provides information, assistance or instruction appropriate to individual requests.


 1. Staff replies to all requests for information and will accept questions:

      a. in person

      b. over the phone

      c. by fax

      d. through the mail

      e. via e-mail.

2. Although all requests for assistance will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis, priority will be given to in-person inquiries over other kinds of inquiries in event of a tie.

3. Reference transactions are confidential in accordance with the Privacy Act and Nebraska Statute 84-712.05, section 11.

4. In providing information, especially in the subject areas of law, medicine and human biology, consumer information, personal finance/tax information, staff will use professional judgment while avoiding personal interpretation and recommendations.

5. Staff does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, sexual preference or disability in the provision of reference services.

6. Staff may set reasonable limits on the amount of time and level of response given to patron requests for information. Simple requests for information can usually be answered fully. More complex questions may require that patrons participate in finding needed information, with staff providing guidance and assistance. Patrons doing in-depth research or needing extensive individual reading guidance should expect to receive professional assistance, direction and library instruction, but will be expected to conduct the actual research themselves.

7. The reference interview is a vital part of reference or reader’s advisory transactions. Because telephone, fax, e-mail and mail do not allow face to face interaction and follow-up, misinterpretation is always a possibility. Therefore, only brief definitions or descriptions can be read over the telephone or sent via mail, e-mail or fax. Sources are always quoted verbatim without interpretation.

8. In order to ensure equitable access, staff may impose reasonable limits on the use of   resources, the Internet and other computer workstations.

9. Reference materials are circulated only under special circumstances and are subject to the approval of the Director. Patrons who check out reference books must be cardholders in good standing.

10. Reference and Reader’s Advisory service complies with copyright and other applicable restrictions in the use of library materials.

11. Reference and Reader’s Advisory service is provided in a manner consistent with the Library Bill of Rights and the American Library Association Code of Ethics (1995).


Direct Readers’ Advisory: Direct readers’ advisory is based on a non-judgmental assessment of the personal preferences of the reader through a series of questions, called readers advisory conversation. The assessment focuses on reader likes and dislikes with regard to a number of factors, including, subject, reading level, genre, writing style, the level of characterization, plot elements, storyline, pace tone, frame, and setting. The hoped-for outcome of this interview is the identification of three or more appropriate suggestions (sometimes referred to as “readalikes” — especially when the interview was initiated by patron interest in new authors/titles similar to one enjoyed in the past). In identifying suitable suggestions, a readers’ advisor combines personal knowledge of material with a variety of specialized print and online resources to come up with appropriate suggestions. The goal of direct readers advisory is to suggest titles based on a readers’ individual interests and tastes. Librarians who simply recommend their favorite books with little or no regard for the patron’s own interests are not performing readers’ advisory.

Indirect Reader’s Advisory: Indirect readers’ advisory involves the creation of displays, bookmarks, and annotated book lists that a reader/patron can pick up and peruse on their own without actively engaging a readers’ advisor. Indirect readers’ advisory aids, particularly annotated book lists, focus on appeal elements rather than providing extensive plot summaries. Maintaining a Staff Recommendations display is another way to improve a library’s readers’ advisory service. Since many readers are browsers, staff recommendations make it easier to select a book.

Reviewed and approved by the Library Board of Trustees May 13, 2019.