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In both library reference work and dementia care, communication between personnel and service recipients can be both complex and complicated. Professionals in both fields have therefore developed protocols and standards to assist personnel in handling these interactions. In this article we detail an exploratory comparative study that used an ethic of care framework to compare prominent guidelines for reference librarians (American Library Association’s Reference and User Services Association’s Guidelines for behavioral performance of reference and information service providers) with guidelines for workers in long-term dementia care settings (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s Guideline on supporting people with dementia and their carers in health and social care). We explored how both sets of guidelines frame the act of communication as a combination of regulated procedure and empathetic discourse to determine how the similarities among and differences between these two guidelines provide useful insights into each other. Our examination was structured using an ethic of care lens, which emphasizes the importance of interpersonal relationships, reciprocity, and empathetic benevolence. Using specific phrases in each set of guidelines that align with and are evidence of Tronto’s (1993a) four moral principles of care, we ultimately discovered, in both sets of Guidelines, an underlying ethic of care: a repeated insistence upon embedding procedures within behaviour that manifests attentiveness, responsibility, responsiveness, and competence.

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