RIAs Summer Workshop

Monday, Aug. 28

(introductions, policies, reference)

Good morning!


Let's start off with an

~ice breaker~ 



led by Pam

What's going on this week?


Today (Monday):

  • training workshops 10am-noon
  • workshops 1:15-4pm


Tomorrow (Tuesday):

  • workshops 10am-noon
  • library orientation practice 1-4pm
    • sign up to co-facilitate 30-min sessions Wed-Fri


Wednesday: orientation sessions 9-11am + 1-4pm
​Thursday: orientation sessions 1-4pm

Friday: orientation sessions 1-3pm

in half-hour blocks + might have some off-time!

will also need McCabe desk coverage!

Drupal profiles!

Navigate to swarthmore.edu/user 

and I will show you how


Desk Dos & Don'ts

  • Be ready to answer questions coming in-person, over the phone, through chat, or in the email account (librarian@swarthmore.edu).

  • Look up from your reading/homework frequently.

  • Fill out the Reference Stats survey after every reference interaction, except for chat questions (these are done automatically).

  • Put up the “Be right back!” sign if you have to leave the desk for any reason.

  • Complete any additional duties as assigned. These might include completing LC Easy (training software), creating @swatlibrary social media posts, collection development tasks, reading an article in preparation for a RIAs training session, etc.

  • Introduce yourself to the ITS student and circulation students & staff. Kim Gormley is the Late Night Access and Lending Services Supervisor.


Desk Dos & Don'ts

  • No wearing headphones, watching videos, or listening to music at the desk. Snacks and drinks are fine, but don’t have an elaborate and stinky feast. :)

  • Limit conversations with friends at the desk. Huddling around assignments and books spread across the R&I Desk will discourage students from approaching to ask a question.

  • Don’t let the desktop computer go to sleep, or else you risk missing a question coming in over chat or email. (It helps to have the volume up a little bit.)

Desk Dos & Don'ts

Have to miss a shift? Email all-rias@swarthmore.edu as soon as possible to find a sub (feel free to trade shifts or simply cover for each other).

 This Google Group includes all RIAs as well as supervisors Pam, Sarah, and Sara.

 Library staff will also use this list to find daytime subs.

All RIAs can serve as subs, even those of you whose regular desk shift begins in the spring.


To contact supervisors directly, email all three of us:
    pharris1@swarthmore.edu, spowell1@swarthmore.edu, selichk1@swarthmore.edu

    (Sara is the primary RIA coordinator, but it's good to have everyone in the loop)



Shifting gears to...

What is it?

Why is it called that?

What am I making 'reference' to?


According to the Oxford English Dictionary...

(Library) reference models


  • Traditional reference desk 
  • Tiered
  • Roving
  • Virtual

What are the pros & cons of each? Which  might work best for Swat students?

Which model(s) do we use at McCabe / Underhill / Cornell?

What kinds of questions might be asked at the R&I desk?

  • Where's the bathroom?

  • Can you unjam the printer?

  • Where are the B's?

  • How do I set my laptop up to print on the library printers?

  • Can you look up the call number of Writers on Writing: Collected Essays?

  • Would you be interested in receiving some book donations?

  • What's a good book on the modern Middle East?

  • How do I integrate Zotero into Word?

  • Can you help me find articles for topics on the culture of skateboarding as well as masculinity?

Directions & wayfinding

Needing a specific book

Assessing the quality and reliability of sources

Verifying a claim or argument

Choosing sources from overwhelming number of options

Organizing research

The "reference interview"


  • "Approachability"
  • Listening + empathy
  • Ask good questions
    • Open-ended
    • Clarifying
  • Follow-through (via email)
  • Refer the question
  • Gets easier with practice!

Let's practice. Pair up with the person next to you, and take turns asking and answering the following reference questions.


  • Where are the psychology books?
  • Do you have any books on wild turtle care?
  • I'm confused about how to look at articles.  
  • Where can I get the Bible?
  • Where can article from the 1975 Phoenix?

Remember... people don't always ask the 'right' question to get the information they need. 

(Often, it's because they are unaware of resources available!)

Referrals are key! 🔑


College history + Quaker history + genealogy

             → friends@swarthmore.edu


Stuff that we don't have in the TriCO

             → emailill@swarthmore.edu


Tripod account issues (renewals, check-outs)

              → circ@swarthmore.edu


Subject-specific questions that you can't answer

               → specific research librarians

Yesterday afternoon I returned the DVD Mad Men season 1, in the return bin at McCabe's circulation desk, but the item still shows up as checked out!

Does the Swarthmore Library have information pertaining to Buckingham Friends School in Lahaska, PA?

I just graduated and was wondering how to access the free Mango account through Swarthmore. I heard that we would have access as alumni, but Swarthmore wasn't listed as a free account provider on the site.