Librarians: Tuesday’s Question

In the Librarian thread, Dave talks about the role of new librarianship in relation to the notion of public service. He suggest that new librarianship is not about artifacts; its about facilitation. Artifacts are no longer the primary focus of librarians, but rather tools that aid the process of knowledge creation. If providing access to artifacts is no longer the primary public service function librarians, what capacity do reference librarians serve in the information age? Should reference transactions be a specialized area, or should every new librarian make reference work their primary function in order to facilitate knowledge creation? How can new librarians become socially active reference authors in order to meet the demand of the public?

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  • Shannon DeSantis

    Reference librarians are very important in today’s information age. They help us find answers to our burning questions-research or personal. Reference librarians are trained in a variety of resources to help best answer these questions. Every librarian should have basic training in reference services because many members will approach any librarian with a reference question.

    • Anonymous

      I suppose the point of ambiguity here is what constitutes “basic training” and “reference services.”  Dave suggests that the relationship between the user and librarian should have more valence than the essential but secondary skill of locating and recommending resources.  Given Dr. Lankes’ lens of the reference transaction, I think there needs to be some form of specialized training or prescribed procedure for making the personal dimension of reference work (such as motivating, tracking the user afterwards and whatever the heck he means by “environment[ing]”) efficient, clean and helpful in execution.

    • Rjlee89

      Basics in reference services is definitely important in new librarianship because it is a majority of the questions received, BUT it depends on many factors. Where are new librarians going to be working/contributing to the community… in a library… or perhaps somewhere else?

  • Kathleen McClure

    The idea that I got from this was that rather than connecting people just to static resources – artifacts –  reference librarians have to master and connect a holistic web of dynamic resources. People, methods, and all the multifarious forms of information are the domain of the reference librarian. In a world inundated with information, we have to see the connections between things and make them accessible to people. I don’t think this is so different from what came before, just expanding the concept of “document” to include the non-tangible, the principal is the same. Nor is the idea of librarian as social activist so new as all that, we’re just learning to embrace it.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that some training in reference is essential for all librarians.  Many users will assume that because you hold the title, ‘librarian,’ you ought to be able to find the answer to their question.  I don’t know that they will necessarily understand the idea that a librarianis not qualified to answer for them.  This seems to go against the title, ‘librarian.’  And as it is our mission to faciliatate knowledge, I feel that it is important that we at least know where to search for information for our users. 

  • JoshingLibrarian

    I like the ideas in this question, but I have to wonder if the “new” librarianship you are talking about isn’t very different from what has been going on with public libraries for the past 150 years or so? Public libraries, in my estimation, have never really been about acquiring artifacts  so much as they have been about connecting the public with information. It just so happens that we have more than simple physical artifacts at our disposal in their current iteration.  I’ve got more thoughts along these lines at the JoshingLibrary blog post on the basics of information age librarianship. (