The Query Search Method

An inquiry-based approach for reference and information services


  • Vanessa Irvin East Carolina University
  • Sarah Nakashima University of Hawaii-Manoa



methodology, pedagogy, professional practice, reference, research


This paper presents an inquiry-based pedagogical approach to teaching the reference interview and query search process for the reference course in the library and information science (LIS) curriculum. The Query Search Method (QSM) is a methodology grounded within a theoretical framework that synthesizes the tenets of literacy studies, critical librarianship, and librarian practitioner inquiry. In the reference course at two ALA-accredited library science programs, the QSM was employed as an iterative search process that actively applies advanced search techniques with online public access catalogs, subscription databases, bibliographic networks, web-based search engines and other online resources. The QSM can be taught in reference courses to fortify pre-service librarians with strong search skills that incorporate social skills that are socio-culturally competent with a critical lens and are immediately usable across various platforms, bridging the gap between library users’ access to and use of contemporary technologies as literate citizens in an interconnected digital world.

Author Biography

  • Sarah Nakashima, University of Hawaii-Manoa

    Sarah Nakashima is an academic librarian with Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii.


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Juried Papers