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Reference & Information Services Policy

The City of Mountain View Public Library provides reference and information services to its customers as part of its service responses to meet community needs:

  • The Library provides general information.
  • The Library provides lifelong learning and learning support.

The Library provides reference and information services through the use of staff, print, nonprint, and electronic resources.

The Library provides reference services in accordance with the principles set forth in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights (see Appendix).


Reference Service Standards and Limits

Successful reference service involves identifying a customer’s information need and proceeding to fulfill it accurately, efficiently, and pleasantly using the resources available in the Library and outside resources that are available to the staff and customer.  The Library will:

  • Provide accurate, objective information in a timely, consistent manner without discrimination.
  • Provide information directly or through the use of instruction in the use of sources to each person.
  • Provide customers training in skills that will assist them in fully utilizing Library resources.  Assist customers in locating reading materials in their areas of interest.
  • Cooperate with other community agencies and organizations in efforts to serve our community.

Lifelong learning can be supported by providing reference service that instructs the customer rather than simply providing them with an answer.  Therefore, instruction in the use of Library resources and tools is considered an important role in providing good reference service.


Interpretative questions that require analysis or drawing of a conclusion from facts are beyond the scope of reference service since they require opinions and are not founded in fact.


Only general information can be provided for medical, legal, and tax questions.  These are fields that require special training that public librarians do not have.  Referrals may be made to other local resources such as the Santa Clara County Law Library.


Exhaustive or lengthy research is not considered a role of the public reference librarian.


The Library offers computers for Internet use by the public.  Staff can only assist with brief questions concerning the use of the Internet.  If more in-depth assistance is needed, staff may refer the customer to local classes.  Staff members are not technology specialists and cannot assist with software or hardware issues concerning a customer’s laptop or mobile device nor their ability to connect to the Internet.


Reference and Information Desk staff are the link between resources and the community.  Service to the public has priority over all other tasks when staff is at public service desks.


The Reference and Information Desks are staffed all hours that the Library is open to the public.  Staff at these service desks are knowledgeable about Library materials, services, and policies and they are approachable and professional.


Discretion when handling questions that might be confidential and sensitive is of the utmost importance.  If information is available, it is provided to customers without making a judgment on its moral or aesthetic value. 


Library users are all people seeking information whether in person, by telephone, or by e‑mail.  In-person requests receive the highest priority. 

Reference service is available to all Library users regardless of age, sex, religion, race, sexual orientation, disability, or socioeconomic status.

Library users are expected to abide by the rules of the behavior policy when working with Reference and Information Desk staff.

Liability Statement

The Library is not liable for any damages resulting from the use of information used in the Library or provided by the Library or the Library staff.  The Library is not responsible for the accuracy of the information contained in the sources it owns or of information it provides from any other sources.


  • ALA Library Bill of Rights
  • Freedom to Read Statement

Adopted by the Library Board of Trustees:  November 21, 2005
Revised:  December 12, 2016

Download a copy of the Reference and Information Services Policy