Reference Interview 101

Monday, 9/16/2019 - Monday, 10/21/2019

This six-week course focuses on the methods of evaluating reference service, behavioral aspects of reference service, and the different types of questions that can be used to help your users identify what they need. Using images and text, this in-depth educational approach covers everything from how to be more approachable to how to follow up with a patron.

This course covers the entire reference transaction - from the patron approaching the librarian through the process of determining the patron's needs to following up on the question. You will receive tips that will help you more successfully communicate with library patrons.

Scheduled chat sessions during the course will model interviewing techniques using sample dialogues. Tailored for support staff, library technicians, newly hired reference librarians, and librarians looking to brush up on their interview skills, the eCourseĀ is geared to cover issues of interest to staff in all type of libraries.

Learning Outcomes

By participating in the course, you will learn about: 

  • Factors that encourage or discourage a patron from approaching the librarian
  • The importance of verbal and non-verbal communication
  • How open-ended and closed-ended questions affect the reference interview
  • Techniques for verifying that you completely understand the patron's question
  • Methods for following up on the original query to ensure reference success

eCourse Outline

  • Module 1: Introduction
  • Module 2: Reference Evaluation
  • Module 3: Behavioral Guidelines
  • Module 4: Approachability
  • Module 5: The Reference Interview Environment
  • Module 6: Questioning and Listening Techniques
  • Module 7: The Reference Interview: Dialogues
  • Module 8: The Reference Interview: Follow-Up

Who Should Attend

This course will be useful for anyone who works at a reference desk or who otherwise provides reference services, including

  • Support Staff
  • Library technicians
  • Newly hired reference librarians
  • Librarians who want to brush up on their interview skills


David Tyckoson has almost 40 years of experience in academic libraries. He is currently a reference librarian at the Henry Madden Library, California State University, Fresno. Past positions include serving as Head of the Reference Department at SUNY-Albany, Reference Librarian at Iowa State University, and Science Librarian at Miami University (Ohio). Tyckoson has also taught in the Graduate Library schools at SUNY-Albany and the University of Illinois.

In addition, Tyckoson is a Past-President of RUSA. He has written extensively on libraries and reference services, having published over 75 journal articles and book chapters. He has presented at over 60 conferences and was awarded the 2005 Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award for distinguished contribution to reference librarianship.



  • $130 for RUSA members
  • $175 for ALA members
  • $210 for non-ALA members
  • $100 for student members and retired members

How to Register

  • Online
  • By Fax: download, complete and fax form (PDF format) to (312) 280-1538
  • By Mail: download, complete and mail form (PDF Format) to American Library Association, ATTN: MACS/Online CE Registration, 50 E. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611

Tech Requirements

ALA uses Moodle for all online educational courses. It is hosted at Learn more about Moodle atĀ

All content for this course will be provided by the instructor. No textbook required.

The Moodle login instructions will be sent the Friday before the start date. The course site will remain open one week after the end date for students to complete any assignments and submit the course evaluation survey.


Continuing Education Credit - A certificate of completion will be sent to each participant upon successful completion of a course.
Although this course is not CEU-certified, many licensing boards will accept it for credit. Requirements vary by state and school district regarding certification and continuing education credits. The decision to grant CEU credits remains entirely up to your state or school district. If you are in need of credits, check with your state and/or school district before enrolling to determine eligibility. Some states will review your certificate of completion and course description to determine eligibility.


Questions about your registration should be directed to Technical questions about the webinar should be directed to Ninah Moore at

Thank you and we look forward to your participation!