What is Ready Reference Service?
Ready Reference Service encompasses a specialized form of library assistance that focuses on providing immediate and concise information to users. These services aim to promptly address users’ specific queries or information needs by offering quick access to relevant resources. Ready Reference librarians utilize readily available tools and references, such as reference books, online databases, and credible websites, to efficiently locate and provide brief answers to common questions. Whether offered in-person at the reference desk, through phone calls, email, or online chat, Ready Reference Services prioritize responsiveness, ensuring that users receive prompt and accurate information to meet their immediate informational requirements.
Therefore, all such information provided to readers immediately is called the Ready reference service. American Library Association called it “Direct Reference Service.” Dr. S.R. Ranganathan has defined it as “Ready Reference Service is reference service finished or replied in a very short time in a minute if possible.” Therefore, the Ready reference service is essential, and it is related to such information provided directly by the Reference librarian, and that too in a short period. It also includes services that direct the readers to reference sources immediately, and information is gathered quickly.
Ready reference service includes the following queries:
- Which are demanded direct.
- Which are demanded by sharp media.
- Which are simple.
- Which are answered in the table of a Reference librarian.
- Which involves short answers.
- Which are responded to within a short time or within 5 minutes or less.
Here are some key features of ready reference services in a library:
- Quick Response Time: The library provides a prompt and quick response to the queries raised by the users.
- Brief and Concise Answers: The answers provided are brief, clear, and concise to ensure users can easily understand them.
- Access to a wide variety of resources: The library provides access to a wide range of resources such as reference books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, and other sources of information to answer queries.
- Expert Assistance: Trained librarians or information specialists who are knowledgeable and experienced in providing research assistance provide the service. They assist the user in accessing, searching, and evaluating information sources.
- Convenience: Ready reference service is a very convenient service as it saves the user’s time and effort in searching for information.
- Free of Cost: Ready reference service is usually offered free of cost to the users.
Importance of Ready Reference Services
The ready reference services are essential for the library for several reasons:
- Provides quick assistance: The service enables users to get quick answers to their queries. This helps to save time and effort for the users, who may not have the time or resources to conduct extensive research.
- Enhances user experience: Offering a ready reference service helps improve the library’s user experience. Users who can find the information they need quickly and efficiently are more likely to perceive the library and its services positively.
- Supports the library’s mission: A ready reference service supports the library’s mission to provide access to information and knowledge. By providing quick access to information, the library is fulfilling its role as a provider of information resources and a source of intellectual inquiry.
- Increases library usage: Offering a ready reference service can attract new users and increase usage by existing users. If users know they can get quick and reliable answers to their queries, they are more likely to use the library’s services.
- Provides outreach opportunities: The ready reference service offers an opportunity for the library to reach out to the community and demonstrate the value of the library. The library can build relationships with users and explain its importance as a community resource by providing a valuable service.
Ready reference services are an essential component of a library’s services as it enables libraries to fulfill their mission, support their users, and enhance their reputation as a valuable community resource.
Type of questions and sources of information in ready reference services
Ready reference services are also called fact-finding service because it mainly deals with answering the fact-finding type of questions. The ready reference service asks Different types of questions, called “ready reference questions.” The essential quality of all ready reference questions is that they are simple, brief, and easy to answer from ready reference tools without wasting time.
|Class of question||Sample types||Representative sources|
|1. Language||Definition, spelling, abbreviation, symbols, foreign terms, usage.||Dictionary|
|2. Background||“Something about” general information, self-education.||Encyclopedia|
|3. Trend||Current events, past year’s developments, recent happenings.||Yearbook, Serial|
|4. People||Notables, specialists, socialites, others||Biographical Dictionary|
|5. Places||Locations, descriptions, distances||Gazetteer, Atlas|
|6. Organizations||Addresses, purposes||Directory|
|7. Facts||Curiosities, statistics, events, formulas,, allusions.||Handbook|
|8. Bibliography||Reviews, Best books, subject literature.||National, trade, subject Bibliography|
|9. Activities||“How to do,” “How to make.”||Manual|
|10. illustrations||Pictures, Cartoons, Slides, films, recordings||Audio-visual material|
- Sharma, C. K. (2006). Reference Service and Sources. Atlantic Publishers & Dist.