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There are four categories of reference questions that are encountered when manning the Reference Desk.

I. Direction

These questions generally encompass the physical world:
"Where is the New York Times World Almanac?"
"Where is the copy machine?"
"Where is the Dictionary of Art?"
Being as simple as they are, they surprisingly take up about 30 - 50% of the Reference Librarians' time.

II. Ready Reference

These questions are single, usually uncomplicated, lines of query that generally have a simple, uncomplicated answer (factoids).
"What is the capital of Rhode Island?"
"What is the average life span of a Yellow Nape parrot?"
"What is the average flight speed of an unladen swallow (African)?"
The Ready Reference section contains almanacs, registries of journals, dictionaries, etc.

III. Specific Search

Theses are questions that lead the user to a variety of sources that will give them a broad range of information on a topic.
"What do you have on lizard breeding?"
"Where can I find the rates of homicide, and contributing factors, for these twenty cities?"
"What information do you have on the stages of moral development?"

IV. Research

This kind of question "usually comes from and adult specialist seeking detailed information to assist them in a specific work". This is the kind of question that is undefined until resoureces can be found and evaluated, then the question is honed and a focus developed aroudn which the researcher will continue their study.

Source: Introduction to Reference Work. Volume 1, Sixth edition by William A, Katz.