Monday, April 16, 2007

Changing face of reference work

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education talks about the changing face of reference work in libraries. The title of the article: Are Reference Desks Dying Out?

An example is made about a student asking about databases (and the answer being given) via instant messaging (IM).

No longer are we able to sit and wait at a desk- we have to be where the users are, and that means IM'ing for reference service. Some institutions are already there, some are very far behind.

Opponents of using IM for reference work say that face to face is very valuable in the question and answer process, and I agree. But there are many students who will never set foot in a physical library, and we'd do well to give them something more than 40 million hits on Google.

1 comment:

Heather Veale said...

I don't know why it would be a problem. If librarians are afraid of losing traffic, they could keep track of how many information requests they answer. The knee-jerk reaction may be, "we'll be overwhelmed by requests from lazy students"; but, those students just call or email their questions in now, don't they?