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Lewis Music Library Student Manual: Reference Questions

September 2021 Open/Close Procedures

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What is a reference question?

A reference question is any question you receive at the desk that is more complicated than a simple yes/no or finding a specific item on the shelf. These research inquiries may involve a little direction or require an in-depth consultation. Try to ask the patron a little more about what they are looking for in order to helpfully direct them to their next steps.


Where to send users with a reference question

You've received a reference question. Now what?:

1. If you think you can do some catalog searching and help the user get started, go for it! We love when student workers can help users find what they need. You are Lewis experts too! Pursuing research inquiries at the library is often a collaborative process, so you are encouraged to loop in Lewis staff. The goal is always for the user to walk away from a desk interaction feeling satisfied and like they have enough information to move forward.

2. Avery is the MIT Libraries subject expert on music, and users may schedule one-on-one time with Avery for a more structured consultation. You may offer this option and direct interested users to the Lewis Music Research Guide page.

  • To the right, under "Music and Media Program Head," the patron can select "Schedule Appointment." They will have the option to find a time for either an on-campus or virtual appointment with Avery.
  • We encourage patrons to use this schedule appointment feature; it is the most direct way to get time with Avery.
  • It doesn't work for same-day consultations. In that instance, the patron would need to email Avery.

2. Quick Referrals Form (for evenings & weekends). Use this form to refer questions received evenings or weekends, when Lewis Music Library staff are not available.

3. Other user questions can be always be asked using MIT Libraries "Ask Us" Chat. 

4. You can always ask Lewis staff if you aren't sure what to do! 


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