Notes of a Binge Thinker

Thoughts from NTLP's Executive Director

Reference – do we keep it?

My next installment of my identity crisis series is about reference so this month, I will be posting tidbits about the current status of reference in our libraries.  For my first posting, I want you to read this.  It is written by Joe Schallan, who retired as a reference librarian in December.

“Given how the nature of library work is changing, shifting work from master’s degree holders to, say, holders of two-year community college degrees, makes sense. Reference is not yet dead, but its circumstances are much reduced: We need fewer reference librarians, but many more people who can demonstrate how the print-release station works, who can sign people up for study rooms, who can troubleshoot computer problems or answer questions about using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and IE, or who can proctor exams, and so on. These tasks do not require a master’s degree nor even a bachelor’s degree. There should probably still be one classic reference librarian in the building — a know-it-all in the best possible sense of the expression — but the need for a phalanx of reference librarians in the Age of Google is just not there.”

What do you think?  Is Mr. Schallan correct?  Where does reference stand in our libraries today?


Written by amwlkaw

January 12, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Misc, Reference

One Response

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  1. While it is true we do not utilize reference librarians the way we have in the past, we need them now more than ever! Yes, there is a vast amount of information available, but if one has no formal or self education, one will not be able to discern fact from fiction nor be inclined to verify that information.
    I’m sure the number of reference librarians will decline, but they should always have a place in our libraries and our society.


    January 12, 2010 at 2:59 pm

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