Reference and Information Services Policy

Service Standards

The library recognizes and respects that each question is important to the customer who asks it.  Library staff will use authoritative and appropriate sources to respond to all customer questions.  If materials are needed that are not owned by Shaker Library, every effort will be made to obtain the materials from other libraries when possible.  In some cases, staff may refer a customer to other agencies that can more completely answer a question.

Assistance in locating appropriate material and information, and help in using library resources, may be restricted by the time and staff available. The number of customers waiting for help may restrict the time available to help any one customer; however, staff will strive to provide effective service to all customers.

Service Limitations

A.    Legal and Tax Information

Staff provides legal definitions and specific citations from the codes, but does not interpret passages. Staff does not recommend specific attorneys, but may suggest the customer contact the local bar association for further assistance and may provide a list of attorney names from online search engines. Staff assists customers in locating specific tax forms and publications.  Staff does not interpret tax regulations or provide tax advice.

B.    Medical Information

Staff will assist customers in finding information about diseases, medical conditions, tests, and treatments in print and electronic resources. Staff does not interpret the information found in these medical resources.  Staff does not make diagnoses, give advice, or recommend specific health care professionals.

C.   Consumer Products and Services Evaluation

Staff cannot make recommendations but will direct customers to authoritative resources that provide consumer reviews. Commercial and financial transactions may be conducted on library computers, but customers do so at their own discretion and risk. Staff assistance will be limited to basic web navigation and website suggestions, but not endorsements.

D.    Research Requests

Staff does not conduct in-depth research for customers.  Customers will be given search assistance including help in locating relevant resources and assistance with search strategies.

When a research request is phoned in, staff encourages the customer to come to the library to use material that is only accessible in the library. Staff may recommend electronic resources and material to borrow from other libraries, and may make referrals to other libraries and organizations when those collections would better meet the customer’s needs.

E.    Computer Assistance and Instruction

Staff is available to assist customers in using library computers, navigating the Internet, using library-provided software, and scanning, printing and faxing documents. Staff will not complete forms, work with personal or financial information including credit cards and passwords, type or proofread documents for customers. Staff is not able to provide in-depth training without an appointment. Staff may assist customers in registering for technology instruction options at the library.

F.    Customers’ Devices

Staff is not able to troubleshoot customers’ devices, such as laptops, digital cameras, cell phones, etc.

Local History Reference

The Shaker Heights Public Library’s Local History Collection is a repository of primary and secondary source material that furthers the knowledge of Shaker Heights and the adjacent Shaker Square area of Cleveland, past and present.

The Local History Collection is a non-circulating and non-browsing collection. Cataloged materials, such as the Shaker Authors Collection, high school yearbooks, and published works on Shaker Heights and Cleveland, can be retrieved by reference staff for in-library use during all regular library hours. Other local history materials including photos, maps, microfilm, and other paper documents can be accessed when the Local History Librarian is on duty or by prior arrangement with the Local History Librarian.

Approved by the Shaker Heights Public Library Board of Trustees 9/15/2010, 5/22/2017, 5/16/22, 3/20/23