Reference Service in the Children's Department: A Case Study

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Reference and information requests received by the Children's Services Department of The Urbana Illinois Free Library were analyzed according to the types of questions asked and the distribution of adult and child/young adult patrons making the requests. It was found that a substantial proportion of the requests were made by adult patrons, and that adults and children tend to ask different kinds of questions. Children tended to ask for assistance of an essentially mechanical nature, such as help in locating items and assistance with audiovisual materials. Adults tended to ask complex reader's advisory questions, reference questions, and questions concerning library policies and programs. It is suggested that children's departments need to make greater efforts to deliberately serve their adult patrons, that the analysis of reference and informational questions can lead to better collection development decisions, and that thorough community analysis may be essential to the effective functioning of a children's department.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Library Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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