The perspective of the patron is conspicuously absent from the literature of reference work evaluation. However, as demonstrated by the success of reference works on the commercial market, the general public has some interest in reference works. This exploratory study reports the results of reference patrons being asked to examine and evaluate reference works recommended by a mixture of public and academic librarians. The results indicate that while patrons do have strong opinions about reference works, they often have difficulty grasping the potential usefulness of many sources. The study results suggest the need for greater communication between reference patrons and reference librarians.