Confessions of an Unpopular Reference Librarian

Well, technology has produced a new savvy information consumer among the masses. These patrons, have become accustomed to having information delivered to them in whatever format they desire – whether that be in an email, an RSS feed, or even delivered to the door. Disappearing are the days when people actually go the library to find out the acidic content of an orange (one of my first reference questions asked in 1996) or what paper money is made of (another old favorite of mine). I am proud to say that this library (and this Reference department) does deliver content in a variety of methods and we’re constantly exploring new ways to get that content to the people. However, libraries still need patrons to come to us, and this is one of the ways my director has been a great visionary. Our focus has shifted to programming – hosting authors, politicians, musicians and artists at the library. Not only do we bring this talent here for people to see, but we also are podcasting, and now vodcasting, these performances so that people can access them from their own computers. One might think that this is just another reason for patrons to not come to the library; why go there if they can get it at home? But our statistics show that these new technologies are added incentive for patrons to visit our building. They want to be a part of something that is exciting. And don’t we all?

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