Reference Interview 101-April 2024

Monday, 4/1/2024 - Monday, 5/13/2024

Reference Interview is a comprehensive six-week course focusing on the methods of evaluating reference service, behavioral aspects of reference service, and the different types of questions that can be used to help patrons identify what they need. Using images and text, this in-depth educational approach covers everything from the approachability of the librarian to how to follow up with a patron. Scheduled chat sessions will model interviewing techniques using sample dialogues.

Reference Interview is tailored for support staff, library technicians, newly hired reference librarians, and those librarians who want to brush up on their interview skills. The topics covered are introductory in nature. Class segments are geared to cover issues of interest to staff in all types of libraries. 

From previous course attendees:

The Reference Interview Course really helped me improve as a future librarian. It didn't just make me better at my job technically, but it also taught me how important it is to understand and communicate well with people who come to the library. Thanks to Dave's great and easy teaching and the detailed course from the RUSA ALA, I'm now much better at helping our library visitors. I'm very thankful for this chance to learn, and I'm excited to keep using what I learned to make our library a better place for everyone.

Gaby Gomez, Seminole County Library Services (Florida)

I took Reference Interview 101 last spring and so enjoyed brushing up on this topic with Dave Tyckoson as my instructor. He made what could be a very dry topic engaging and interesting, often personalizing it, which held my interest while also reminding me of the importance of my position when answering patron’s reference questions:   Making myself approachable and also to ask the proper open-ended questions to get to the real question patrons are trying to ask, but often do not know how to articulate to us.  Lastly, I never felt anxiety over the quizzes or the work shared with fellow students online and had such fun when practicing what we learned with my partner as a final small project.  I highly recommend this as a refresher and reminder for something that seems so basic, but has everything to do with building relationships with our patrons and their comfort in using our public library.

Lisa Gottshall, Manitowoc Public Library (Wisconsin)


Learning Outcomes

  • 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

Benefits of Participating in eLearning from RUSA:

  • Learn directly from subject matter experts and gain essential skills for your professional growth
  • Your purchase helps fund advocacy, awareness, and accreditation programs for library professionals
  • You help support RUSA, which is a leading advocate group for library resources and information services and collections 

Who Should Attend

  • Support Staff
  • Library techniques
  • 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. Prior to retirement, he served as a reference librarian at the Library at 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 a 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



  • $129.58 for RUSA members
  • $188.10 for ALA members
  • $209.00 for non-ALA members
  • $141.08 for student members

How to Register

  • Online 
  • By Email: download, complete and email form (PDF) to
  • By Mail: Download, complete and mail form (PDF) to American Library Association, ATTN: MACS/Online CE Registration, 225 N. Michigan Ave. Suite 1300, Chicago, IL 60601

Tech Requirements

ALA courses are hosted All content for this course will be provided y the instructor. No textbook required. If you have question, please visit FAQs.

The course site will remain open one week after the end date for students to complete any assignments and submit the course evaluation survey, at


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

Thank you and we look forward to your participation!