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Success at the Enquiry Desk

Tim Owen


Facet Publishing

April 2006

5th edition




ISBN-10: 1856046001

ISBN-13: 978-1856046008


This essential desk-book helps the information professional become self-sufficient in answering enquiries. Step by step, it guides the reader through all the stages of research, from finding out what the enquirer really wants, to providing a polished, value-added answer. Designed as a ‘one-stop’ manual of techniques, which will be equally effective in large or small libraries and information units, the emphasis is on how to make the best use of limited resources. It includes the author’s list of 25 multi-purpose reference sources one can’t afford to ignore, and the crucial Success at the enquiry desk enquiry form, which is especially designed to match the book’s step-by-step approach to enquiry answering.

This fifth edition of the best selling practical guide is fully revised throughout with new examples and techniques. It illustrates when and when not to use the web, and assesses new developments including blogs, wikis and RSS feeds. It also includes a brand new chapter on acquiring the right tools for the job.

The book is divided into the following areas of help and advice:

  • making sure you really understand the question
  • providing just the right amount of information
  • imagining what the final answer will look like
  • choosing the best sources and delivery media
  • devising efficient search strategies
  • meeting deadlines every time
  • deciding what to do if you can’t find the answer
  • presenting your answer well
  • using completed enquiries to develop your service
  • creating a brand new information service


Previous editions:

‘Tim Owen has done a cracking job with this title… This really is a most excellent text. The style is lively without being patronising… this title should be required reading for LIS students…’
Managing Information

‘This book is on my list of must have titles, order it for your office now! It is a valuable guide for both the information professional and the education counsellor.’

‘This is an excellent publication, very practical, easily read and digested, and containing applicable ideas and techniques relevant to any enquiry desk. It is highly recommended for all information professionals and their parent organisations.’
Australian Library Journal


Tim Buckley Owen is Head of External Relations at the CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. He was previously Communications Manager at Resource: the Council for Museums, Archives & Libraries, and before that Head of Policy and Communications at the Library and Information Commission. He has extensive experience of enquiry work at Westminster Central Reference Library, the City Business Library, and as Principal Information Officer at the London Research Centre. He is also active as a writer, editor and trainer.

Available at a 20% discount to Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals members.
Remember to quote your Membership Number if claiming the discount.
Facet Publishing, 7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE, UK

Available from Bookpoint Ltd, Mail Order Department, 130 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4SB
Tel: +44 (0)1235 827702. Fax: +44 (0)1235 827703. Email: