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Staff & Volunteer Training Sample Language


Here's some language to help reduce potential liability (drawn in part from Healey 2008).

Set the tone.

  • “I am not an expert on this topic, but I can help you find information on it.” 
  • “I can show you how to look online and you can decide what you’d like to use.”

Present results.

  • “Here is a page of links that might help you. Look it over and see if it is what you had in mind.” 
  • “You should satisfy yourself that this is what you need.” 
  • “There may be other information or sources you will want to consult.”

Terminate the interview.

  • “I have given you what information I can find.  Please let me know if this does not turn out to be what you need.” 
  • “I can’t guarantee that this is everything you need, but I would be happy to help you with further searching if you feel you need more.”


Doesn't Speak English                               

Patron:  “I don’t speak English. Can you help me?”

Librarian:  “Here are services that may be able to help you.”


Patron:  “Could you help me find a form to file for bankruptcy?”

Librarian: “There are different approaches you might take when filing for bankruptcy.  Let me show you a pathfinder that may help you figure out which form to use.”

Requests Data Entry

Patron: “I don’t know how to use a computer, and I forgot my glasses. Could you type my information into the form for me?”

Librarian: “I’m sorry, we don’t have the resources to type forms for people. Maybe you have a friend who could come in and help you?” 

Offer volunteer assistance if available, but ensure volunteers have training not to encourage reliance and not to engage in the unlicensed practice of law.


Librarian: “I can help you if there isn't a line of people waiting for me. When you’re asked for (social security number, drivers license number, password), you’ll need to type that in yourself.  When it’s time to sign the form and submit it, you’ll need to review the form, click and send it yourself.”


Patron: “Could you help me apply for citizenship?”

Librarian: “Here are resources (inside or outside the library).  Here’s a book/pamphlet/website with basic information to get you started.”

Needs Email Account

Patron: “This site is asking me for an email account. I don’t have one. What should I do?”

Librarian: “You can get a free email account from a number of services. Would you like me to help you set one up?   Be sure to use a strong password. I’ll show you what I mean.”  Do not view patron’s password.

Entering Personal Information

Patron: “Is it safe for me to type my credit card/social security number in this form?”

Librarian: “We do our best to make sure the library computers do not have viruses or spyware, and we clear the personal information automatically between users. However, we cannot guarantee this, because the hackers are always hatching new schemes.”

imls180.for.panel.jpgMany of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Florida's LSTA program is administered by the Department of State's Division of Library and Information Services.