Prospect Researchers as the Reference Librarians of the Development Office

Welcome to this episode of #ChatBytes. What do you want to know about the reference librarian interview technique?

I can guarantee you that if you reach out to Olesya Zaremba and tell her what you are seeking to learn, she will help you!

In fact, I encourage you to check out her LinkedIn page and send her a connection request. She’s pretty new to the platform and welcomes you to reach out.

That welcoming nature, while apparently intrinsic to Olesya, is the first step librarians are taught when learning the reference librarian interview technique. It may seem like simple customer service everyone should know without pointing it out, but welcoming and active listening are too often neglected in the workplace.

And the workplace is where you will find prospect research professionals. Olesya considers herself the solo reference librarian of her fundraising office and she takes her customer service seriously.

So, if you’ve ever complained about development officers refusing to complete the feedback loop on prospects, or if you never want to be ignored by your development officer, it’s time to listen in to what Olesya has to say about the reference librarian interview!

Resources Mentioned

Reference Interview | Coonin, Bryna, & Levine, Cynthia R. (December 2012). Reference Interviews: Getting Things Right. (Retrieved from

Probing | Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data by Herbert J. Rubin & Irene S. Rubin, 2nd ed., 2004, Chapter 8: Designing Main Questions and Probes

Question Types | InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing by Svend Brinkmann and Steinar Kvale, 2014.