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Peer Research Consultants

Training and information for PRCs

Required Reading

Welcome to being a Peer Research Consultant!

          ... Now what IS a PRC?


As you likely noted during the interview process, this position is much more in-depth and professional than many student jobs!

While our Access / Circulation students will be operating the Information Desk, your job is to assist patrons / customers with research questions. The goal is that the Reference Librarians will handle questions from graduates and faculty, but you will be the first people our students go to for assistance on their research questions!

The goal of this guide is to provide you with readings and training exercises that will help you succeed. Please note that you will be asked to wait for feedback after some assignments before proceeding. You will be working on this guide while on the desk, and the on-call librarian nearby in the Consult Room.

  • Anytime someone comes to the desk, please stop working and either call the consult librarian out OR take the patron to the consult room. You are EXPECTED to stay at the librarian's side and observe how they conduct the interview.
  • See the workflow below on when you may stop calling a librarian to your side

Further Information about assisting patrons:

Your natural inclination will be wanting to assist patrons that come up with questions, especially as you begin some of the following assignments. This can be harmful to their research process if you don't have all the tools needed yet! 

Your primary responsibility is to assist undergraduate students with research questions.

  • Time limit: Attempt to stay within a 30 minute window. However, we understand that sometimes a question may need a little more time.
    • If you get near the 50 minute mark, they should be referred to their subject librarian.
  • At the end of each transaction, whether or not you refer them on
    • You will give them a business card for their subject librarian


Your guidelines in the beginning are as follow:

  1. You must IMMEDIATELY call out your librarian buddy to be at your side while in training. This is to ensure you are not only learning "cool" things; it's also to ensure our patrons are getting the best service and takeaways.
  2. You must "pass" the question, saying you are in training, and escorting the patron to the Consult room. You may ASK the patron if they mind you staying with the librarian so you can learn.
  3. If your buddy is busy, please use All Schedules in Teams and ask for a librarian to come out to help you.

As you complete your Reference Interview assignments:

  1. Your librarian buddy MUST be at your side, or listening to you. Do not assume they are automatically listening. In chat: "I have a patron. Can you come out?"
  2. You may do the preliminary interview work with your librarian buddy at your side, using the Mapping Ideas worksheet.
    1. Find out key information such as what class they are in, what the topic specifically is, etc.
    2. You are not yet trained on doing the searches. Slide over and let the librarian take over at this point.

As you work on the librarian questions:

  1. Follow the same instructions as the Reference Interview section
  2. Make sure you are sending the survey links (under Evaluation) to the patron and your buddy librarian
  3. The PRC supervisors will let you know when you can go it alone.
  4. Make sure to ask which class it is for.
    1. If a graduate student, IMMEDIATELY take it to the Consult room.
    2. If an upper level class, verify if it is for a capstone. If it is, IMMEDIATELY take it to the Consult room.


We record each question we're asked. Please bookmark Libstats and get the login information and instructions from Karlene.

Karlene Clark - Coordinator, Peer Research Consultant Reference Services Librarian

Kristen Borysewicz - Research Skills Instruction Coordinator, Reference Librarian

Meaghan Farrell - Engineering Librarian

Jadyn - Peer Research Consultant

Savana Middleton - Peer Research Consultant

Marisa Smith - Peer Research Consultant

Bria - Peer Research Consultant

Logan Brown - Peer Research Consultant

Madeleine Philips - Peer Research Consultant

The American Library Association (ALA) created several documents to assist librarians. These can also be used to help a PRC determine the right course of action and behavior. 

RUSA is the Reference and User Services Association, under ALA.

  1. Approachability
    1. Physical
      1. Immediately stop any other task
      2. Eye contact
      3. Smile or stand up
    2. Verbal
      1. "Can I help you?"
      2. "Are you finding what you need?"
  2. Interest
    1. Tell them the question is interesting - it can also buy you time while you determine how to proceed in the search
  3. Listening / Inquiring
    1. Let them speak without interrupting
    2. Ask clarifying, open-ended questions afterwards
      1. "Can you tell me more about that?"
      2. What have they already retrieved?
      3. What types of materials do they need?
      4. How far into the research are they?
      5. Where have they searched?
  4. Searching
    1. Show Research Guides
    2. Show essential databases
  5. Follow up
    1. "Would you like to explore any other resources?"
    2. "Will this be enough to get you started on your paper?"
    3. Provide their subject librarian's card.


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Karlene Clark
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Chester Fritz Library Rm 200B