Prince Sultan University PSU
Policy Management System
Reference Services Policy

Policy Code: LB008
Policy Title: Reference Services Policy
Owner: Central Library
Responsible Office/Department: Vice President for Academic Affairs
Approved by: University Council
Date Created: 02 February 2017
Recent Review: 27 September 2023
Effective date:


Reference service at the Central Library is an important service to support libraries’ defined objectives, vision and mission. Central Library provides high quality reference services to all PSU users. Library staff answers user queries, whether received through telephone, email, or in-person visit to reference counter.

Professional librarians having at least a master degree in library science or related field provide the service during the opening hours of library. Users with disabilities are treated amiably, with dignity and respect.

Central Library orientation services are planned to develop user skills, to search, discover, evaluate, access, and use relevant print and electronic resources. Reference librarians at the Central Library contribute to orientation activities by organizing orientation programs and preparing information literacy tools and guides.


A comprehensive reference services policy is required at libraries for the better utilization of library services, facilities and resources.

Central Library is dedicated to offer comprehensive services to serve its users' diverse information needs, and reference service serves as the vital link between library resources, services, facilities, and users.


The main purpose of this policy is to provide a policy document that outlines the general guidelines for providing reference services at the Central Library. Another purpose of the policy is to devise a uniform standard of reference service at the Central Library.

This policy is applicable to the staff of Central Library. As policy is prepared to provide service to users, so faculty, students, alumni and staff of PSU and non-PSU users are also the indirect target audience of this policy.


  • Bibliographic Requests – Checking the availability of required material by searching OPAC and online subscribed databases, and physical library holdings on shelves.
  • Ready Reference – Answering short questions using already available print and online reference sources.
  • Standard Reference – Providing answers to queries that are time consuming and complex in nature.
  • Bibliographic Instruction – Instructing library users to self-sufficiently use library resources, services and facilities, which include library OPAC, specialized reference sources, and online subscribed databases.
  • Readers’ Advisory – Suggesting particular information sources to readers, based upon the knowledge of accessible print, AV and online resources.
  • Referrals – Referring library user to other library unit, department/college, or to an appropriate professional. Reference Librarian may find it necessary or suitable to refer users to other sections, and units of the library whose staff possesses in-depth expertise or knowledge needed to fulfil user needs satisfactorily.
  • Technology Instruction – Instructing users to use IT, equipment, online resources such as OPAC, subscribed databases, and MS Office etc. Users with complex questions that require in-depth and professional IT skills, and/or seeking help in using library’s IT infrastructure and equipment like scanners, self-check system, printers or photocopiers are referred to Systems Librarian.
  • Help in Class Assignments: Reference librarian helps students and other users locating information and sources for their class assignments and projects. He is not supposed to do assignments and projects on student’s behalf.
  • : Non-PSU users are welcomed at Central Library. Queries of PSU users are preferred over the users that are not affiliated with PSU in case the Reference Librarian receive queries from the both simultaneously.
  • Legal Questions: Reference librarian can help users in finding the relevant legal materials. He is not required to explain the material, being not expert in the field.
  • Medical Information or Advice: Librarian at reference desk is not authorized to provide medical information or advice to users, instead he can provide users with published information resources related to wellness, safety and physical fitness for reference.
  • Learning Management System: Reference Librarian may provide basic help to the students accessing the LMS. Users may be referred to the respective teacher or ITC for technical and complex problems.
  • Prioritizing the Queries: Services at reference desk are provided on first come first served bases when multiple users seeking for help. If the query of first user is time consuming, then users with briefer questions are served first. Low Use Periods: At low use periods, Reference Librarian may work on other tasks, do shelving and shelf reading, read professional and subject related literature for professional development and conduct library related research.


Reference Services: All the functions performed by a professional and trained librarian to fulfil the learning, research, teaching and information needs of library users.

Information Resources: Resources in library that provide information to library users. This may include but not limited to books, journals, coop reports, thesis & dissertations, databases, e-books, e-journals, standards, conference papers, and research articles.

Reference Desk: An instruction and assistance counter at library where users can seek help in finding their required resources/information.

Reference Librarian: A librarian responsible for providing the required information and instruction to patrons, answering user queries, performing user tailored information.

Library Orientation: The activities and programs prepared for developing users information skills, and instructing users on how to search, locate and acquire their required information properly, quickly and independently.


Library staff with the guidance of library directors at both the campuses are responsible for maintaining and updating reference services policy.

The policy will be translated to Arabic language for the understanding of Arabic speaking colleagues.

The policy will be published online for easy access and reference.


A violation of this policy may be considered a deviation from library standards and procedures.