Skip to Main Content
Lansing Community College Library

Reference & Instruction Guide: Desk

Policies, procedures, best practices and training guide, for reference and instruction services.

Best Practices - Research Help Desk

  • Ensure continuity at the desk by being on time for your shift, and wear your name tag.
    • By having your "Librarian on Duty" sign at the desk, student employees and patrons can determine you are available for research help.
  • When you are leaving a shift, tell the librarian coming on about any students you have assisted who may come back to the desk for help or whose progress the oncoming librarian may want to check on.
  • During a shift change if a librarian must leave right away and your still assisting a student:
    • Be sure to ask an oncoming librarian to take over a transaction
    • Explain to the student that a shift change is taking place then ask the student if it is okay for the oncoming librarian to take over.
  • See more "Shift Change" suggestions in the "Opening, Closing and Shift Change Procedures" box.
  • If you are scheduled at the Research Help Desk during the Department Meeting, Reference Services Team (RST) meeting, or the Instruction Services Team (IST) meeting, it is still ok to attend these meetings in person and keep the Hours sign out on the Research Help Desk, leaving the desk unstaffed during the meeting time.
  • During the meetings, the Help Zone staff will send a message in the Library Help Zone/Librarian Communication Web-ex group in case patrons need assistance from librarians during the meeting. Therefore, it is a good idea to bring your laptop to the meeting in case you need to leave to assist a patron.
  • Attending these meetings in person is the best and desired practice instead of trying to join the meetings via Web-ex from the Research Help Desk, since it would require you to tune in with earbuds or headphones and you cannot properly participate in the meeting from the desk. It also distracts from patrons who made need help.
  • If you are scheduled at the Research Help Desk during other Library team meetings you plan to attend, the best practice is to try and find a sub to cover the desk in your place during your scheduled time.
  • As needed, conduct a complete reference interview to get a full picture of the student's information need, the type of project involved, and the types of sources the student is required to use or wishes to use.  Ask the student to provide an overview of the assignment requirements.
  • If you find that you are spending a great deal of time with a student, remember to keep an eye on the desk as well to see if someone is waiting.
    • Remember, LCC Library Reference philosophy is to encourage independent learning.
  • If student(s) need help locating books on the shelves, or research help in a study room or another floor of the library:
    • Let Help Zone workers know you'll be away from the Research Help desk so they can let those waiting when to expect your return and/ or to offer ASK A LIBRARIAN options if student cannot wait.
    • When working with students out of view of Research Help Desk, try to assess their needs and get them independently beginning their research in approximately 15 minutes.  Invite them to come to the Research Help desk when they need more assistance. Let them know you need to be visible / approachable for other students.  Share the Appointment service option for 30 minutes of dedicated, uninterrupted research help. 
  • If you are not able to help someone find needed information, try to provide a referral.
  • If the Research Help desk telephone rings while you are assisting visitors, let it ring. On-campus visitors are the top priority at the Research Help desk. When you have finished assisting a visitor, listen to phone messages, and respond as soon as possible.
  • Acknowledge the presence of those waiting for assistance as soon as possible.
  • Practice 'triage' when several people are waiting for service. Ask people who are waiting to describe their needs. If one person can be assisted quickly, but has not been waiting as long as others, ask the others if it's okay to assist that patron first. Then thank them for waiting.
  • When the library is busy, carefully consider how much time to spend with any one student.
    • For example, get a student started on research and then excuse yourself to get a second student started. Go back and forth between the two - this fosters independent learning.
  • If you find that you have several people needing in depth help simultaneously:
    • Consider sending a quick WebEx Teams message to RST space to see if anyone available to assist.
    • Also share other ASK A LIBRARIAN options, specifically Chat or the Appointment services for uninterruptable assistance.
  • If the catalog or college network goes down, try to assist visitors as much as possible using other sources.
    • Such as, Library Congress call number ranges for print collections.
  • Work with Help Zone staff regarding computer / technology issues as they arise.

As listed on the Ethics & Policies page re: Food & Drinks in the Library:

  • At the Research Help & Help Zone desks drinks are allowed in the Library purchased containers.
  • To maintain a professional atmosphere, LCC Librarians are not to bring food to the Research Help Desk.
    • Suggestion: Let Help Zone staff know when you step away from the desk to eat a snack or take a break.  
  • Librarians are entitled to 15-minute breaks when they work for a four-hour desk shift.
    • Please inform the Help Zone staff when taking your break so students can be informed when you are available.
  • Contact the Help Zone at 483-1038 if you will be late or absent.
  • Be sure that if you are absent to send an email to the Director & Reference Lead Librarian.
    • Reference Lead Librarian will let the next day shift librarian know so as to make sure to check LibAnswers, phone messages, etc. right away.
  • See more Weekend info in the "Opening, Closing and Shift Change Procedures" box.

Opening, Closing, and Shift Change Procedures

  • Research Help desk shifts begins at the time stated in the semester's W2W reference schedule.
    • If you are going to be late, notify the Help Zone staff of approximate arrival time so waiting students can be made aware.
    • Review Absence / Lateness procedures box under the "Schedule" page.
  • Set out your Librarian on Duty picture.
    • You may need to move the "Librarians are available..." & hours signs for space and so that it is not visible while you are near by.  
      • Consider displaying the "Librarians are available..." sign when you are out of sight of the Help Zone to encourage students to ask for Research Help during scheduled shifts.
  • Log into the Research Help computer using your username and password..
  • Consider opening the Library Staff Portal in D2L to use Quicklinks.
  • Have your WebEx teams open to see Library Staff Updates.
  • Open the LibAnalytics online Reference Services Contact form.
    • Tip: Consider using FireFox browser for this form, it will repopulate basic information after a submission to save time when entering contacts.
  • Check the telephone voicemail for any messages and respond to them as soon as possible.
  • Check in with Library HelpZone staff to discuss current happenings for awareness.
  • Librarians are entitled to 15-minute breaks when working a four-hour desk shift.
    • Please inform the Help Zone when taking your break so students can be informed when you are available.
  • Shut down the Reference Desk computer.
  • Set out "Librarians are available..." and hours sign.
  • Check with Help Zone employees if they need assistance while closing.
  • Set out your name sign.
  • Sign in on the Research Help computer.
  • Consider opening the Library Staff Portal in D2L to use Quicklinks.
  • Bring up the LibAnalytics online Reference Services Contact form.
  • Have your WebEx teams open to see Library Staff Updates.
  • Check the phone voicemail for any messages and respond to them as soon as possible.
  • The librarian leaving the desk should inform the librarian coming onto the desk about any ongoing questions or students who may need additional assistance.
  • Check in with Library HelpZone staff to discuss current happenings for awareness.
  • Evening, Fridays, and Weekend Shifts:
    • Be sure to log into LibAnswers to check for Email questions and reply to Follow-up Chats as needed.
      • If you have time to review LCC Student chats with partner librarians who did not mark them as Follow-up, respond if more helpful info to the student can be considered.
    • Check your email for SS-LibRef emails coming in that have been forwarded from another Library team as an Email Research Help question or it may have come from the Serials Solutions Article Linker set up.  See Reference Types > Email page "Problem Link Report"
      • Be sure to add this to the online Reference Contact form as an Email contact after you respond.

Faculty Requests for Scheduling Instruction

Occasionally, faculty may come to the Reference Desk to request an instruction lesson lead by a librarian or use of the Instruction Classroom, TLC Room #. All requests are now done online via the Library Instruction Request Form. If there are any questions in regards to scheduling, please refer them to the Instructional Services Librarian.

Further information on instruction sessions is available under the Instruction Tab.

Desk Tools

  • Computer workstation
  • Pen & Pencil holder with sticky notes
  • Research Help Hours sign
  • Librarians available, ask at Help Zone sign

Bottom File Drawer:

  • Files include:
    • Red file has a "Find" iPad Kiosk key with screen prints on how to reset it.
      • How to Reset the Find iPads on 2nd & 3rd floors is also available in the SharePoint files.
    • Instructions on how to use the phone, plus who in IT to contact with issues.
  • LC classification outline
  • MAPs -- LCC Campus, MSU, and downtown libraries
  • Ready Reference materials include MLA & APA manuals.
  • Binder of current assignments collected.
  • Has 2 different HDMI cables for use with student's laptop at large monitors to encourage social distancing.

Top Small Drawer:

  • Houses "Librarian on Duty" signs. 
  • Cabinet key to use to lock personal materials while on duty.
    • Another cabinet key is located in Help Zone lock box.
  • Possible other miscellaneous items.


MLA & APA LCC Library created handouts

Common Assignments