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Reference Librarians: Then And Now Essay

1565 words - 6 pages

Billeter begins her article highlighting the ways that reference has not changed. Some of the ways are people do not know how to ask questions, but they ask them because they need answers. They do not know that libraries provide free reference services not available elsewhere, but those who do know come with a wide range of expectations, knowledge, and understanding of information. (2010, p. 34)
She then proceeds to clarify the ways that reference has changed. For instance, many people do not ask simple questions any more because they find the answers on the Internet. However, on the other hand, the amount of information found on the Web overwhelms many people.
Librarians used to handle information queries differently than in the past.
Then many reference librarians had only the resources of their collection with which to answer questions. They had access to other libraries resources only by ILL

(inter-library loan). Now patrons can access many items via the Internet by means of databases. In the past, some librarians had the means to make long distance calls. Now librarians use fax, email, chat, instant messaging, and cell phones. In fact, some even use teleconferences, podcasts, and other forms of electronic communication.
The library catalogs were on cards in drawers and only featured author, title, and subject. They were accessible only at the library. Now catalogs are online. They are searchable through keyword, author, title, subject, and by using Boolean. Some catalogs even provide links for further research.
In the past, searches for periodicals entailed searching Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature. Now they are accessible instantly on the Net through subscription databases and services. Most libraries subscribe to a daily newspaper, but with Internet access, many newspapers are available for patrons to view and enjoy.
So then how are librarians’ jobs different today? Librarians need to encourage patrons to explore and use the various types of resources available to them. They still need to conduct reference interviews, but they are no longer limited to face-to-face conversations. In addition, librarians today need to continuously update their skills and knowledge so they can reliably answer patrons’ questions because people still ask questions today.

Cisarella (2007, p. 3) does not discuss Google, instead she provides details

on how it assists with indirect, incomplete, or misleading questions. She considers incomplete and incorrect citations, incorrect spellings, and tip-of-the-tongue questions, and describes how Google helps in answering them.
Cisarella states that most patrons when they come in to look for an article bring the author and title with them, but they do not bring the Journal name. Since people are used to searching for books using title and author, they do not realize that for article searching the Journal name is the most important. Often times, they bring in complete...

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