reference interview

n. A conversation between an archivist and a researcher designed to give the researcher an orientation to the use of the materials, to help the researcher identify relevant holdings, and to ensure that research needs are met.


Reference interviews are conducted to ascertain the identity of the researcher, as a security measure; to determine the researcher's information needs and purpose; to guide the researcher to appropriate access tools and relevant sources; to inform the researcher of basic procedures and limitations on access, handling of documents, and reproduction; and, after research has been completed, to evaluate the success of the visit and the effectiveness of the reference service offered. The initial reference interview is often referred to as an orientation interview or the entrance interview. The interview at the end of a research visit is often referred to as an exit interview.