Reference Services – Service Review

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    • #1014
      Leena Riethmuller

      I often refer to an organisation’s staff for help when I am at a loose end. Library staff are no an exception. That was why when reading about reference I was surprised that one would question the necessity of reference librarians. I think their practice embodies a number of Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science, which I will demonstrate throughout my service review. I interpreted the Laws to be inclusive of ‘information’ and not limited to ‘books’. I think the mode of delivery of information can sometimes limit our perception of what information can be, and what information is considered important.

      In order to use the reference service productively I decided try and settle a family mystery. My mother believes that when she was a child she was recorded by local TV reciting poetry. The footage was specifically produced to be televised for the Queen on her birthday when she was sailing up the east coast of Australia in 1970. But none of mum’s family remember! She has often mentioned that there should be footage somewhere. She provided me with various details about the event which, through some extensive Googling, lead me to the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA).

      And so, I excitedly accessed the NFSA’s reference service and was pleased to encounter Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science in practice. The following is a breakdown of this story categorised under those laws.

      Save the time of the reader:
      When I called the NFSA, the department I needed to speak with was busy so I left my name and number so they could call me back. While waiting, I searched the catalogue but was unable to find what I was looking for. There were a number of unfamiliar fields in the Advanced Search option which were specific to the medium of film and TV.

      Every reader [their] book:
      My phone call was returned by a very helpful Collection Reference Officer who patiently listened to my mum’s entire story. The officer used the “needle in a haystack” metaphor, which mirrored my own feelings about the search. That said, he didn’t once tell me what I was looking for could not be found, on the contrary, he said it could take a long time but it could likely be in the archive.

      The Collection Reference Officer could not find what I was looking for but sent me links to his searches and encouraged me to continue the search on my own. He explained to me how the search tools worked and emailed me a guide on how to use them.

      Books are for use and The library is a growing organism:
      He also explained that if  I found the footage and there was an access copy available I could request to view it at the NFSA access centre at the State Library of Queensland. He also suggested I could potentially get my own copy under Australia’s film reproduction rights.
      After the call I spent a fair amount of time exploring the catalogue but was unable to find the footage. The reference officer did mention that the footage may be there but mixed up in a reel that is not completely catalogued. I think this may be the case.

      Every book its’ reader:
      The search features for the catalogue are designed both of searching, but also exploring the archive. Most descriptions of the items in the catalogue are detailed and my interest was often piqued by the descriptions. Despite not finding what I was looking for I found plenty that was of interest.

      The reference service provided to me by the NFSA was extremely valuable. I learned a lot, felt empowered to search for myself and I gained renewed respect for reference services.

    • #1065
      Kirsty Roberts

      I loved your story, Leena! It’s a shame you didn’t have any luck finding the footage but it’s definitely reassuring to know that those working within reference at the National Film and Sound Archive are so accommodating and helpful.
      I agree with your sentiment about the necessity of reference librarians – I think much of the belief stems from the idea that people are capable of finding information entirely on their own (particularly on virtual platforms) when that’s certainly not the case, particularly when they only have vague details or require specialised knowledge.

    • #1113
      Clare Thorpe

      Hi Leena,

      Can you let me know if this is your trends reflection, issue based reflection or argument blog post? Thanks, Clare

    • #1116
      Leena Riethmuller

      Hi Clare, this is my service review.

    • #1142
      hanan albishri

      Great review  Lenna 🙂

    • #1284

      This is a great story Leena, I loved it.

      I think the personal element served to highlight the human aspect of reference transactions and your discussion highlighted the importance of the more technical aspects. I like the idea of being empowered by a reference transaction to do your own research while at the same time being helped by the librarian who did some searching for you – a traditional reference task incorporating information literacy education. This seems like classic referencing in the 21st century.

      Wishing you all the best in your search.

    • #2293
      Chris Sonneveld

      Hi Leena

      What a wonderful experience. Sorry to here you couldn’t find the footage but maybe one day you will require the services of NFSA again in the future. If anything, I now know that this service exists in case I need to use it, so thank you for writing the post. Also, I really enjoyed how you referred to Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science, throughout the post and how you put them into practice. Maybe one day when technology becomes so advanced that the expression “Finding a needle in a hay stack” won’t be used as much in our profession.

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