Skip to main content

King Library Reference Unit Services Policy


Statement of Policy & Text

The Reference Unit of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (KRU) assists patrons with their informational, curricular, and research needs. This accurate, timely and courteous assistance is provided to in-person patrons and to remote patrons through telephone, email, chat, TTY, and appointment when appropriate. Separate policies offer further explanations of these service options.

Need for the Policy

  • The type and level of reference service available must be identified.
  • Multiple and complex forms of service delivery must be identified.
  • A consistent standard of reference service must be ensured.

Requirements & Guidelines

The KRU seeks to insure a high standard of service, and has adopted the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) guidelines as a foundation for all reference services (see References A).

Reference attempts to answer questions in all areas of inquiry. Some limitations may apply as stated in the service parameters below.

According to SJLibrary’s vision of fostering lifelong learning, King Reference Unit (KRU) librarians and staff seek the “teachable moment” in every reference transaction. Depending on the needs and capabilities of the patron, KRU librarians and staff will incorporate instruction in the use of library resources—with the goal of enabling the patron to become a more self-sufficient library user.

Service Parameters

  • Genealogy Research: General assistance identifying resources in the collection and online is provided. Reference librarians cannot undertake genealogical research. Patrons may be referred to specialized genealogy libraries or services for further assistance.
  • Interpretation: Reference librarians and other Library staff cannot ethically or legally provide advice or interpretation of medical, legal, or business/financial information. Librarians may suggest, read from, or provide information from standard reference sources, but patrons must evaluate the information.
  • Translations: Limited language translation service is provided through the AT&T Language Line Service and multilingual library personnel. Library staff are unable to translate documents, letters, papers or other written material.
  • Editing: Reference personnel are unable to edit or proofread documents, letters, papers or other written material. Patrons will be referred to available sources of information on these topics.
  • Proctoring: Proctoring of exams is not provided. (See Reference C).
  • Consumer Evaluations: Recommendations on commercial products or services are not provided. Customers will be referred to available sources of information on these topics.
  • Song Book, Sheet Music, & Stock Music Collections: Reference personnel are unable to mail or fax photocopies from the songbook, sheet music and stock music collections (See Copies may be obtained through in-person visits to the library. For those residing outside the library’s primary service area, requests for copies should be made through their city’s local library’s interlibrary loan service.
  • Obituary searches: (See Reference B).
  • Database access: SJSU Library and the San José Public Library (SJPL) must comply with the terms of their database licensing agreements. Remote access to subscription databases is restricted by these agreements to authorized users only.
    • Authorized users for SJSU databases are faculty, staff and currently enrolled students of the University.
    • Authorized users for SJPL databases are current SJPL library cardholders.

Applicable Personnel/Departments




Reviewed and approved by:
Date of Approval

Head, SJSU Academic Services
Sandra Belanger

Manager, SJPL Reference & Web Services
Joan Bowlby

Ruth Kifer, John Wenzler, Mary Nino, Luann Budd, Ann Cain, Neil Rufino, Sandra Stewart, Katie DuPraw

History & Dates

Category of Policy: User Services
Author(s): Gloria Singer, Edith Crowe, Lauren Miranda Gilbert
Authorized by: Sandra Belanger & Joan Bowlby
Date Written: 8/1/05
Date Effective: 12/9/05
Date(s) of Revision(s): 1/24/06, 2/21/2013


A. RUSA Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Services Professionals