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This is all very relevant and resonates with me as long time distance learner. I have never used a face to face reference service even though I live in a University town and always commenced my search using subject guides or references at the end of journal article.Its interesting the anxiety around asking for help in this way and clearly the skills required are not something many of us bring to the beginning of our studies. I agree with Robynne that the two services should hopefully exist side by side, perhaps the online world can help demystify the face to face services and give more users the tools or courage to seek the assistance they need.
In a world so full of information its the tools to navigate or the need of people to acquire these tools that make reference services relevant. The more information available sometimes the harder it is to find what you need.