What’s STILL Wrong with Reference

From David Isaacson in Library Journal, 11/15/2007:

The good news is there is much potential for improvement. Notably, in the more than two decades since Miller’s article was published, libraries have become more attractive places to meet people, both in person and in cyberspace, whether to do research or to interact socially. Unfortunately, the 1984 reference model endures in too many libraries today: librarians passively waiting at a desk for people to approach.

We must experiment more with having reference librarians roam among users, actively asking if they can help them. Some libraries already have embraced this strategy with positive results. But we can do more, both at the library and online. I don’t mean to suggest we stalk patrons, just that we more actively solicit and then win their attention and respect as teachers.

To facilitate this without overburdening librarians, additional support staff, as Miller suggested, could be trained to answer the simpler questions at information desks, leaving professional reference librarians with time to get involved with patrons, whether to help answer a more complicated reference or research question or to teach. This could be done (and in some cases is already being done) face to face by appointment, via chat reference or email, or simply by being available, as other teachers are, for drop-in consultations during scheduled office hours.

One thing is for sure: we are still missing too many opportunities the Internet has offered us to reach our patrons.

Click here to read the whole article: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6497259.html