A. Objectives

It is the goal of the Reference Department to answer to the best of its ability all reference questions asked by patrons, including telephone and e-mailed questions, or to refer the patron to another agency or institution that could provide the answer.  The Reference Department acknowledges that there are questions that cannot be answered regardless of the resources available, but the Department will attempt to locate information about any reasonable request.  It is the goal of the Reference Department to answer all questions completely, quickly, and courteously.

B. Reference Materials

  1. Reference materials include all materials not in the adult circulating collections or in the Children’s Department.  These materials include but are not limited to:  the reference book collection; fix-it; business reference; ready reference; atlases; local history and genealogy; phone books; career and college materials; on-line and CD-ROM databases; microfilm and microfiche; periodicals; and vertical files.
  2. Reference books and materials are not available for loan under any circumstances except under extraordinary circumstances or at the discretion of the Reference Librarian. A $50 deposit may be required. The deposit will be refunded upon the return of the material. Fines will be assessed at $10 per day when an item is late.
  3. Certain materials will be kept at the reference desk for convenience, for security, or because of the condition of the item.  These items may be used by patrons upon request.
  4. Patrons requesting material kept at the reference desk for security reasons must leave a driver’s license, credit card, or library card at the reference desk while using the material.
  5. A complete inventory of the Reference collection will be taken every year as part of the regular automated inventory.
  6. Vertical file materials that can be easily photocopied cannot be checked out.

C. Reference Service

  1. Reference staff members are not allowed to offer medical, legal, or financial advice.  This includes the interpretation of materials for the patron.  However, the staff should make every effort to provide materials that are suitable for each patron’s educational background and level of comprehension.
  2. Staff members may not provide information on “nearbys” to telephone callers requesting information from the city directory.
  3. Staff members may assist students in locating information needed for school assignments but cannot assist the student in completing school assignments or homework.

D. Newspapers and Periodicals

  1. The Library provides access to current and retrospective collections of newspapers and periodicals.  Retrospective collections are available in various forms, including electronic forms via the Internet or CD-ROM products, microforms, or print.
  2. Current newspapers are kept on the shelf for up to one week and in storage for the current month and the previous three months.
  3. The compact periodical storage area and other storage areas are off limits to patrons.  Library staff will retrieve items in storage upon request.  Patrons must submit request for stored items according to the format developed by the Reference Department.  The staff has the right to refuse periodical requests submitted in improper form.
  4. Current issues of periodicals and all newspapers must be used in-house only.

E. Interlibrary Loan (ILL) from Other Libraries

  1. Interlibrary loan requests must be submitted in person or via First Search. 
  2. ILL requests are accepted only from Joplin Public Library District card holders.  Before accepting an ILL request, staff must ensure that the patron has a JPL library card.
  3. ILL patrons should provide both an address and e-mail address or phone number at which they can be reached.  All requests must include the patron’s Library card number.
  4. Any charges assessed by the lending library are paid by the patron.
  5. Patrons requesting a photocopy pay the charges assessed by the lending library.
  6. Patrons may submit up to fifteen ILL requests per month.
  7. The fine structure for overdue interlibrary loans is set administratively.
  8. ILLs received but not checked out incur a charge to cover the cost of requesting and returning the material.
  9. Requests for interlibrary loan of materials published within the last year or that fall outside the Library’s lending policies are not accepted.  If the Reference Department receives more than two requests for such material, the item should be submitted for purchase by the Library.
  10. Patrons should be discouraged from requesting the interlibrary loan of materials that do not fall within the guidelines of the Library’s selection and lending policies and which are in print, inexpensive, and available at local retail outlets.  The cost of interlibrary loan of such materials usually exceeds the value of the materials, and the patron should be encouraged to purchase such an item.
  11. The Reference Department handles all ILL requests loaned to or loaned by the Joplin Public Library and its patrons.

F. Interlibrary Loan to Other Libraries

  1. The Library does not loan new fiction or nonfiction (items published within the last year) or older items in which there is great current interest.
  2. The Library does not loan reference books, complete issues of periodicals, local history or genealogy materials, computer software, maps, or easily damaged materials.  Audio-visual materials may be loaned with certain restrictions.  At the discretion of the Reference Librarian, the Library may loan reference materials to another library for its staff use in-house.
  3. The loan period for books is one month from the day the item is shipped.  The loan period for videos is fifteen days from the date the item is shipped.  Overdue notices are sent on the same schedule as for materials in regular circulation to Library patrons.
  4. Requests for loan are accepted on OCLC, ALA form, or by fax.  Phone requests are not accepted.
  5. The Library does not charge postage to a borrowing library unless the borrowing library is not part of a reciprocal borrowing group.  The Library charges a set fee for borrowing libraries outside any reciprocal agreement.  The fee is set administratively.  The Reference Librarian is authorized to negotiate reciprocal borrowing agreements with other libraries within the parameters of this policy.
  6. The Library sends photocopies according to an administratively set fee schedule.  The Library provides free photocopies up to 30 pages for libraries in the Missouri Lending Agreement Group and Libraries Very Interested in Sharing (LVIS).

G. Fax Services

Fax service is made available to Library patrons for both transmission and receipt of documents.  A fixed fee per page is set annually.  Reference staff will fax materials for patrons; patrons are not allowed to use the fax machine.

H. Copiers and Other Equipment

  1. The Library provides self-service photocopiers and microform copiers for patron use.  All equipment is self-service and the staff does not provide instruction or assistance in their use beyond elementary demonstration of use and assuring that the equipment is functioning correctly.
  2. Coin-operated typewriters are provided for patron use.  The typewriters are not the property or responsibility of the Library.  The Library does not provide typing paper or other supplies for those using the typewriters.
  3. A dollar bill changer is provided for patron convenience.  The Library is not obligated to provide change for copiers, telephones, typewriters, or any other equipment.

I. Examination Proctoring

  1. The Library will proctor examinations for individuals, subject to the availability of authorized staff and resources, and with the approval of the Reference Librarian.
  2. Examinations must occur during the hours the Library is open to the public.
  3. It is the responsibility of the student taking the examination to ensure that all requirements for the examination can be met and that the examination is received by the Library before the scheduled examination time. 
  4. Examination times are scheduled by the student with the Reference Librarian.
  5. Subject to availability, a quiet room will be provided where the student may take the examination.  The Library does not guarantee that the students will be under continuous observation during the examination.
  6. A fixed fee per examination is set annually.