Librarians try to find (and send) those sources most likely to meet their patrons’ information needs. But sometimes a patron isn’t satisfied with the information sent, despite the librarian’s best efforts. Remember chat is a dialog – a conversation – so use this opportunity to clarify the request. If you send a site that – to you - seems to satisfy the request, but the patron isn’t happy with it, then just ask the patron to explain why the information isn’t useful. This question may help the patron to better articulate their information need, so you, the librarian, can send them something more useful.
Patron: how the television has evolved over time
Librarian: [after greeting the patron] Are you thinking about physical attributes of the set, or the content of what is aired?
Librarian suggests databases
Patron: i checked the data bases but i never found any resources. i need websites to answer this question for my annotation
Librarian: Your instructor is requiring websites off of the general internet instead of information from the online databases?
Librarian sends a site and asks: Is something like this useful to you?
Patron: no. the web site is not useful for me
Librarian: Okay. Can you tell me more about the type of thing you're trying to find, so I can find better resources for you?
Patron: a sourceful website that i could use for an annotation bibliography
Librarian: You are asking for a resource that shows how television has evolved over time, correct?
Librarian sends a second site
Librarian: Okay, this page gives links to a variety of resources related to the different eras of television--does this look useful? If not, please let me know...
Librarian: Let me show you a chronology to see if that is more along the lines of what you were thinking... [Librarian sends a third site]
Librarian: Is this information helpful?
Patron: um no, i need a web site with info
Librarian: When you say "a website with info," do you mean a website that includes various years?
Patron: well yea but more information on the years
Librarian: Let's try this...[sends a fourth site]
Patron: this website is not helpful
Librarian: Can you explain why it is not helpful? That will help me to find one that is. Thank you, [patron name]
Patron: because it does not start with the 1920
Librarian: Thanks! But it does cover 1920. It goes from 1880 to the present time. Do you need something that specifically focuses on television in the year 1920?
Librarian sends fifth site: http://transition.fcc.gov/omd/history/tv/1880-1929.html
Patron: ok this covers it thanks
Librarian: You are very welcome! Is there anything else I can help you with today?
[The session continues, as librarian helps patron with a related question]
The reference conversation is a great way to make sure you are sending information the patron can use. If the sites you send don’t seem to be working for your patron, just ask why – it can save time and increase user satisfaction with the service.