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Extended reference service

An extended reference service, known as RefSupport, is offered by the State Library's Access & Information Division. 

What is RefSupport?

RefSupport provides Victorian public libraries with direct and fast access to the substantial resources of the State Library, extending the reference and information services they can offer to their users. When public libraries have exhausted their own resources, their staff can fill out our online inquiry form or fax inquiries to our information services staff on 03 9639 3854.

Service guidelines

Most queries will be answered by working through material from a variety of sources. Up to 20 pages of information will be provided to the requesting library after completion of a copyright form. Staff will spend up to 2 hours working on a question and inquiries will be answered as soon as possible with a guaranteed turnaround time of five working days. Inquiries may be sent after hours and on weekends; these will be dealt with on the next business day.

Public reference librarians’ role

Before contacting us, please make sure the following steps have been taken:

  • a thorough reference interview has been held between librarian and end-user
  • you have ascertained the earliest date by which the end-user is able to collect the information from your library
  • you have made a careful check of the collections of your branch and regional headquarters

When contacting the State Library

  • include the phrase 'RefSupport inquiry' in your request to ensure prompt turnaround
  • list on the form the resources that have already been checked to avoid duplication of effort
  • indicate the information pickup date on which you have agreed with your client, and
  • indicate the level and amount of material required.

State Library reference librarians’ role

The focus will be on matching the end-user’s need in terms of providing the required information at the appropriate level and by the required date or within five working days. 

All staff responding to public library extended reference requests will be experienced reference librarians with an understanding of the work of public libraries and a strong commitment to satisfying the needs of public library users. If required, immediate communication will be made with the requesting library.

It would be anticipated that the public library would contact the end-user to explain any unavoidable delays and to renegotiate timelines where necessary. 

Types of inquiries undertaken

The State Library will undertake to follow up any reference inquiry which a public library service’s resources cannot handle satisfactorily to meet the end-user’s needs. In the area of genealogy, staff will indicate resources available and do quick name checks. Detailed genealogy services cannot be provided. 

Interlibrary loans

The State Library’s document supply service provides document delivery and interlibrary loans. Where a photocopy of a specific item is requested, public libraries should contact document supply directly on 03 8664 7159 (standard charges will apply).

Contacting RefSupport

The preferred form of communication with extended reference staff is by our online inquiry form. Fax inquiries should be submitted to 03 9639 3854. If there are any difficulties in the management of any inquiry, phone 03 8664 7162.

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