EnglishGeneralLibrary Science

Difference between Short Range and Long Range Reference Service

Short Range and Long Range Reference Service — A Difference

Dr. S.R. Ranganathan has given 3 points of difference between short range reference service and long range reference service.

(i) Time involved: Long range reference service involves much time while short range reference service takes very short time. Short range reference service is provided immediately or within very short period. It answers the query quickly and takes one minute to 5 minutes. But it takes much more time to answer the queries in long range reference service. It may take sometimes even more than half an hour.Reference

Sometimes long range reference service turns to short range reference service. When a long reference service has been provided and the result of the queries is recorded at reference desk, next time it will become short range reference service and will take short time to answer the queries.

(ii) Material used: There are different reference sources used for long range reference service and short range reference service. Short range reference queries need reference sources like Dictionary, year-book, handbook and encyclopedia, etc. while long range reference queries need information sources like bibliographies, indexes, abstracts, and bibliography of bibliographies. These reference sources may direct the reader to trace his information. Periodicals and pamphlets are also helpful in long range reference service. Even if any source does not satisfy the reader, other libraries in the country or out of country may be consulted for the purpose of providing information.

(iii) Information sought: All queries covered by short range reference service are:

        (a) simple                                                    (b) fact-finding

        (c) short                                                      (d) pinpointed

        (e) involve short research process          (f) involve mostly single reference source

        (g) readily available.

While in long range reference service queries are:

      (a) complex                                           (b) detailed

      (c) involve long research process      (d) involve more than one reference source.

(iv) Current information: Such information’s are fact-finding but such queries cannot be satisfied by short range reference service because reference sources cover such information’s which happen before the publication of reference sources. Generally reference sources are published after a gap of one year, which is suitable for long range reference service. On the other hand all such information’s which are fact-finding, are possibly available and served by short range reference service.

(v) Outdated information: There are information’s which are outdated and provided by long range reference service. Such information’s are not current. For example Kargil war which was fought five years ago. What was its effect on economic conditions of India?

(vi) Complex information’s: There are a few information’s which are complex and need consultation of more than 2 to 3 reference sources. Such information’s are provided by long range reference service as it takes good time to consult and trace. Such information’s are not dealt by short range reference service. For example: The role of libraries in activities of Adult education.

(vii) Information related to specialists: Experts include research scholars, scientists and engineers. Such queries are related to specific information’s. For examples, new inventions in the field of library classification, and new developments in cancer research. Such information’s are gathered after consulting many sources and take a long time. Hence, such services are called long range reference service. Such queries are not covered in short range reference service.

(viii) Information related to a particular point of view: There are information’s which are available in foreign languages or in such language which is not known to the reader. Such information’s come under the purview of long range reference service as it takes long time. Such information’s are provided by translation service.

(ix) Information not available in the library: There are few queries of such information’s which are not available in the library. Such information’s are gathered from other libraries or the experts.


  • Sharma, C. K. (2006). Reference Service and Sources. Atlantic Publishers & Dist.

Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

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