As metropolitan areas become megalopolises or conurbations, more patrons may increasingly be affiliated with more than one library system. And of course students enrolled at post-secondary institutions may use the nearest public library service when they need help. If the patron asks a question at library A’s virtual reference page, then QuestionPoint will display the policy page for library A (when you click the link to “Policies”). This is considered the “home” library, for purposes of statistics, follow up, and policy page display. But what if the patron “belongs” to more than one library? Fortunately, you can use the search policy pages feature to locate policies outside the “home” library’s policy page.
To search other policies, click on the Search Policies link, inside the policy page template:
Here is a recent example of a patron arriving at one library site, but with multiple affiliations (highlighted in red):
Patron arrives in a city library queue (PL #1), after 10 PM local time
Patron: Hi! Is there anyway I can access the Resources USA from home using my library ID number and pin? Thanks!
Librarian: [after sending greeting] Are you asking about the Reference USA database?
Librarian: It looks like this one is not available from home through PL#1, but do you have library cards at any other libraries?
Patron: I have one for PL #2 and PL #1....
Librarian: OK [Librarian sends link to databases at PL #2, then link to Reference USA]
Librarian: Can you see the site I sent?
Patron: Yes, that is super helpful. I think it will work... okay, I am just resetting my pin now...
[Patron has difficulty accessing the database; Librarian recommends IE rather than FireFox, and patron is able to search]
Patron: i am in the us business search database and trying to choose all my filters. this is great!
Patron: i am now trying to search by industry.
Patron: do you know how i can search by industry?
Librarian: Do you have an SIC or NAICS code?
Patron: no, but i am trying to now. i am looking for telecom companies
Librarian: Here is a site (I don't think I changed your current page)
Patron: you are so helpful! Thank you!
Patron: i am just trying to figure out how to limit the size of the company to 20 -100 million dollars.
Librarian: There should be a limiter for that for sure
Patron: yeah, i think it is sales volume... trying it out now.
Librarian: In the meantime, I'm looking at searching help documentation...
Patron: Thanks. i am also trying to find revenue information.... any chance you may be able to help me out with that as well?
Librarian: As opposed to sales volume?
Patron: i guess so, my professor asked for revenue, debt, strategies and client platform/market target
Librarian: Good. https://mason.wm.edu/about/library/documents/referenceusa.pdf
Librarian: This looks like a really nice help guide
Librarian: Where are you taking classes? If you are taking a class, your school probably has access to Reference USA and might have a help guide, too--I can check...
Patron: City College
Patron: Excellent help guide!
Librarian: Yes, very. And you specifically need to use Reference USA? Because City College has some excellent Industry guides, actually
Patron: I do not need Reference USA specifically, that is the only one that I thought could help, but the professor did not specify
Librarian: Are you familiar with this guide:
Patron: Nope, let me check it out...
[session continues as librarian assists patron with user id and pw to city college database]
Librarian: But also, for Reference USA through PL#2, is that help guide from the other library I gave you sufficient?
Patron: yes, i am working on the narrowing it down now... i think it should work.
Librarian: Okay, great. Did you need help with anything else?
Patron: i think i am all set, would it be possible to send a copy of this transcript to my email?
Patron: these are great resources.
Librarian: Yes, it should be sent automatically once we end the call; if you don't see it, check your spam folder.
Patron: cool. Thanks again!
Librarian: Glad to help. Thanks for using our service! If you need help with anything else, just contact us again. Goodbye for now...
Patron: you were SUPER helpful!
Librarian: You're welcome! :-)
With good reference conversation techniques, this librarian was able to get the patron started on their research, even when the “home” library resource was unavailable. If you suspect your patron may have multiple affiliations, especially patrons from large urban areas, or those that come into a public queue with academic questions (or vice versa), it doesn’t hurt to ask – and with easily linked policy pages, you can quickly discover resources for patrons with many “homes”!