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Training & Information Guide for the Mathematical Sciences & Physics Library

Guide to information for library staff only

Access Services Customer Services Standards

Customer Service Standards

Approachable. Access services staff are ready to greet approaching patrons. We stop all activities and conversations when patrons approach the desk. We focus on the patron. This means we:

  • Look up or stand up, establish eye contact, and smile.
  • Speak to the patron first and ask if we can be of assistance.
  • End conversations when a patron approaches the desk; avoid personal conversations at the desk.
  • Place and receive personal telephone calls only when away from the desk.
  • Take work to the desk that does not demand undivided attention or deep concentration.

Communicate Well. We listen carefully and are interested in patrons' questions. This means we:

  • Listen carefully.
  • Ask questions to clarify problems, avoid putting the patron in a defensive position.
  • Confirm an understanding of a patron's need through verbal and nonverbal communication.
  • Speak plainly; avoid technical jargon and library terms.
  • Respect and adapt to the different communication styles of our diverse user community.
  • Follow up on problems reported by patrons. Communicate personally with patrons so they know how a problem was resolved or how it will be addressed.

Courteous. We respect individual patrons and are courteous. This means we:

  • Are patient, polite.
  • Maintain a calm and pleasant manner even when a patron is demanding, unreasonable, or unpleasant.
  • Request backup when a patron exceeds the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

Modeled on Boston College O'Neill Library, Access Services, Service Desk Standards

Telephone Etiquette

Learn how to use the phone! Make sure you know how to:

  • Answer the phone correctly
  • Put a caller on hold
  • Transfer a call
  • Take a message--complete information needed

How to answer the phone:

Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening, 

This is the Math Physics Library can I help you?

Always ask whose calling, get their full name, Phone numberor e-mail address, and write down the day/date and time they called.

I am looking for a book:  If the person is calling about a book, ask for and write down the following information, so that you can look the book up online

Book title:                                                  ,

Author (Last name, First name):                                              

Call number (if they have it):     QA327.44 2001                        

Barcode:  390XXXXXXXXXXX            

I need information about my account, do I have any holds to pick up, etc.

Ask for

Name (First and Last Name):


Phone number or e-mail address if you are unable to assist them.

Speak to your immediate supervisor.

How to take a message

Always ask whose calling?

Name (First and Last Name):

      Phone number

      E-mail address

      Write down what time they called


Be sure that you are calm and attentive when you answer. The caller can usually tell quickly if you are going to be pleasant and helpful or if you are preoccupied and unhappy.

Be accurate and as complete as possible with your answers. If you can't answer a question, find someone who can. If it is someone in the department, put the caller on hold briefly while you explain the situation to that person.

If you transfer the call, always alert the other library staffer at the other end as to why you are making the transfer and what you have learned from the caller so the caller doesn't have to repeat everything yet again.

When someone calls you by mistake, a wrong number, and they don't have the correct number, see if you can help them get the correct number. Look it up in the University Directory or the Mobile telephone book. We are in the business of providing information--we should be able to do it for those who demonstrate an immediate need.

End phone calls just as you do questions in-person. Remind the caller to call back if they need more information. If your supervisor allows, give them your name as a contact.


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