Where's the Library?

Libraries are not just a place or a thing. Libraries are evolving!

Reference and the New Library

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 23, 2011

You know some say reference is dead. They should come sit at the reference desk with me. Not that every second is busy, but people still need to discover resources. That is my job when I sit at the desk!

I show them ways to find what they are hunting. Sometimes I show them the library databases and the library catalog. I show them how to search to find “on topic” information. I show them subject searching in the library catalog. For example, if someone needs a book about William Shakespeare, they need to use the name as a subject, otherwise they will get all the books that contain his writings. If we use his name as a subject, then they get what other people had to say about his writing.

How is this related to digital resources? Some of the methods that I use to teach people lead them to digital resources. Databases contain digital resources. Library catalogs do, too.

I think we over-estimate people’s abilities to locate what they need. Most of the time, they do a quick look at Google and then think that is all there is. Google works for its purpose, but not to find specific information for a topic.

Oh yes, Wikipedia! It is a great starting point for many topics. Besides the encyclopedic materials, there are citations that can get people started toward the “right stuff.”

Reference is not dead, but those who want to kill it don’t appreciate what reference is all about! They do not understand or want to understand the “information needs” of the people who come into the library.

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