Week 3: The New Reference Librarian – Trends Reflection

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    • #910
      Jennifer Cotton

      When one envisions a reference librarian, chances are 3 images will be conjured. There is the librarian who no doubts cares for an army of cats, the librarian who is willing to ‘go the extra mile’ for you or the dreaded Mr. Bookman from ‘Seinfeld’ who will hunt you down for your overdue library books.

      The cat librarian.                                                       The too helpful librarian.

      While the images are stereotypes, it raises a question – what is a reference librarian? To determine what a reference librarian is. Traditionally, ‘reference’ in a library meant a set of books such as encyclopedias in a designated section, but the Digital Revolution has altered the research habits of the public. Mostly, the public are satisfied with the information they have found online,questions have been raised about the future of Reference Librarians. Personally, I believe the role of the Reference remains unchanged; all that is different is the product they are working with.

      I remember going to the library as a child, it was a quiet place with rows and rows of books. There were so many rows of books they were like forests to me. The library’s catalogue had just been moved onto a computer database. The computers had black screen with green text. The reference section was prominent and conspicuous; I can still remember the smell of those magnificent books. I was especially fond of the grand atlas, though being a child, I was often told to put it down before I dirtied it.

      Today, the library is a very different place. It is filled with squeals and cries of children, the computer catalogue can be accessed online anywhere and anytime, the reference section is inconspicuous and the forests are gone. The library has changed over the years, and at first glance, it would seem librarianship is a dying profession.

      Mr. Bookman. Library Cop.
      The reference section is no longer a collection of encyclopedias; instead the reference section is online. The clients’ need has shifted from finding information from a book to finding information online. This shift has been noted by the increase in the amount of questions from clients who cannot find relevant information on the internet. It has become the Reference Librarian’s duty to aid these clients by providing guidance and teaching best practice. Recent studies have revealed Reference Librarians stills spend the majority of their time at the reference desks. Reference Librarianship is not dead, it is simply evolving.

      Reference Librarians still need to sort through vast amounts of information to retrieve information and ‘read’ their clients to determine their need. As user’s research habits change, then so should the skills set of Reference Librarians. Therefore, it is imperative Reference librarians have a sound knowledge of online databases and online search engines. Instead of managing a book collection, Reference Librarians manage a collection of online journals, books and articles.

      As technology changes, user needs change and Reference Librarian need to adapt to the new technology and to guide those who feel left behind. The library has changed a lot over the years but whatever the future may bring, we will be able to read about it at our local libraries.

    • #936
      Stacey Larner

      Haha nice images ;). You should be able to strip out those tags?

      Definitely agree the reference service is evolving, not dying.

      • #945
        Jennifer Cotton

        🙂 Thank you Stacey. Yeah those tag look ugly but I couldn’t figure out how get rid of them. Do you know how?


    • #961
      Stacey Larner

      Hmmm you should be able to edit it and see where those tags are. I think the blog posts should have a preview function? If they do, strip the tags out (top right corner, you can see “visual” and “text” tabs, click on “text” to see the tags) and preview to make sure it looks ok before submitting.

    • #986
      Jennifer Cotton

      Ahh.that’s ringing a few bells. Thank Stacey 🙂


    • #1002
      Will Wood

      You’ve really nailed that great mix of humour, personal interest and fact that makes blogs a pleasure to read! I totally agree too that though the reference collection has adapted and changed to suit the times the experience of the reference librarian should still be valued. The sheer volume of information that patrons can access online can be overwhelming and the one on one interactions with a professional can go a long way in easing that I feel. I found Verdesca’s article really insightful.

      One question for you though…how did you add the images?! I tried so many different ways..even some basic html and couldn’t get it to work for me. What did I miss? Something easy I bet.. :p

    • #1110
      Clare Thorpe

      Hi Jennifer,

      Just to make it easy for me with the marking, can you tag this with the topic you are addressing? Is this your trend review or your argument blog?

      Thanks, Clare

    • #2300
      Chris Sonneveld

      Hi Jennifer, great post. I totally agree with your statement about libraries evolving. I think there may be a divide between people wanting to look through tangible references and digital references. I personally have never liked searching online for my research and have missed looking at physical journals but I know that doing my research digitally will safe me time and allow me to search much wider. There is definitely a need for libraries to increase information and digital literacy skills so maybe as the digital divide becomes smaller then patrons will seek out digital references services more.

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