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Research Services: Policies


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Professional Guidelines

Research Service Librarians Practice Guidelines

Professional Conduct - All transactions will be conducted in a professional manner by following the standards established in the American Library Association's Code of Ethics.

Service Equity - Research Services Librarians will provide information service to all users without discrimination based on race, creed, gender, sexual preference, disability, age, ethnicity or English language proficiency.

Reference Interviews - Librarians will conduct reference interviews using the most effective proven techniques, including open-ended, neutral questioning. Library staff will refrain from making overt judgments about the merit, relevance, or value of questions posed by users.

Librarian Competencies - All librarians providing reference service will attempt to adhere to the highest standards of knowledge and proficiency. All public service librarians must have knowledge of the following:

  • The reference resources available
  • Library collection scope
  • The Library Catalog and other networked electronic resources (databases, MeL, WorldCat)
  • Library and university policies
  • Emerging technologies
  • Development and Training - Professional development is an ongoing responsibility of all Research Services librarians to maintain current skills, develop new skills..

Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Professionals (RUSA)

Chat and other electronic Resource Assistance Policy

The Melvin J. Zahnow Library at Saginaw Valley State University provides chat reference assistance through our chat service and electronic reference (eref) forms as a service to students, faculty, and staff of SVSU. We will provide chat reference help to persons not affiliated with SVSU but reserve the right to restrict service and/or limit the number of chat and eref requests (determined by IP address) if the volume of requests becomes too extreme.

Zahnow Library Chat will provide answers to all types of questions in the order in which they are received (on site, on the phone, or via IM).

The Zahnow Library Reference Staff reminds SVSU Chat users that in-depth research questions are best answered in person or asynchronously via email. Therefore, we reserve the right to request a meeting with a patron or provide reference services via email at a later time.

The Melvin J. Zahnow Library respects the privacy of users, but cannot guarantee the confidentiality of files, electronic mail, or other information stored or transmitted electronically. We will collect data on each chat transaction for statistical purposes. In addition, each chat log will be saved in order to improve the service. At no time will any personal information be given to persons outside of the Melvin J. Zahnow Library. Chat and EREF users may request that their transcript be deleted by emailing Chat and EREF transcripts will be deleted within 6 months following the end of each Fiscal Year (June 30th). We reserve the right to utilize transcripts in an anonymous manner for presentations and service assessment.

Zahnow Library Chat staff will not tolerate inappropriate behavior. Inappropriate behavior constitutes, but is not limited to, any action that is: illegal, threatening, harassing, obscene, objectionable, or a violation of federal, state or local law. Chats determined inappropriate will be terminated. A warning message may or may not be given to users who violate this policy. Users who fail to comply with this policy may be blocked from Chat and electronic service in the future.

Zahnow Library Chat will not send articles accessed through the library's subscription databases to users unless a verification of their status as a member of the SVSU community is authenticated.

Zahnow Library Chat will not do your research for you. We can help you with your research by giving you the necessary tools/knowledge to complete research. Zahnow Library Chat will not provide medical, legal, financial, etc. advice.

Zahnow Library Chat does not renew, recall, or retrieve books/library materials for students, faculty, or staff.

Zahnow Library Chat reserves the right not to answer any question.

Service Policies

Code of Ethics of the American Library Association

As members of the American Library Association, we recognize the importance of codifying and making known to the profession and to the general public the ethical principles that guide the work of librarians, other professionals providing information services, library trustees and library staffs.

Ethical dilemmas occur when values are in conflict. The American Library Association Code of Ethics states the values to which we are committed, and embodies the ethical responsibilities of the profession in this changing information environment.

We significantly influence or control the selection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information. In a political system grounded in an informed citizenry, we are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information. We have a special obligation to ensure the free flow of information and ideas to present and future generations.

The principles of this Code are expressed in broad statements to guide ethical decision making. These statements provide a framework; they cannot and do not dictate conduct to cover particular situations.

  1. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
  2. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
  3. We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
  4. We respect intellectual property rights and advocate balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.
  5. We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness, and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
  6. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.
  7. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
  8. We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.