… As people find information “on the fly” or “just in time,” how can we still play a role? We’re excited to see new ways libraries are offering reference: texting, Meebo, and outreach to places like Panera Bread. It’s not time to stop those innovations. Could your reference staffers be doing their jobs in other channels? In other spaces?
We were impressed by Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH, and others that have changed imposing reference desks to friendlier stations where staff and users stand beside one another. The reference interview these days should be all about collaboration and context.
But remember the role of privacy. Consider private reference interview areas, much like hospital admissions cubicles, where patrons can quietly and confidentially seek information. Online channels like Meebo also provide a low-cost way to answer sensitive questions from library users online.