A Greater Need for Reference Librarians

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [University of Calgary]On: 06 October 2014, At: 23:52Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK</p><p>Science &amp; Technology LibrariesPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wstl20</p><p>A Greater Need for ReferenceLibrariansJohn H. Sandy aa Rodgers Library for Science and Engineering ,University Libraries, University of Alabama ,Tuscaloosa, AL, 35487, USAPublished online: 23 Sep 2008.</p><p>To cite this article: John H. Sandy (2007) A Greater Need for Reference Librarians,Science &amp; Technology Libraries, 27:3, 87-89, DOI: 10.1300/J122v27n03_07</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J122v27n03_07</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of theContent should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. 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Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found athttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>alga</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:52</p><p> 06 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>VISIONS AND DIRECTIONS</p><p>A Greater Need for Reference Librarians</p><p>John H. Sandy</p><p>In this era of virtual libraries and sophisticated search systems, onemight think the need for reference librarians would be diminished, butevidence shows this is not the case. Many factors affect the demand forreference assistance.</p><p>The first, and most obvious, factor is the continued reliance on legacysystems built up over many years. Information contained in books, jour-nals, and microforms is still useful for learning about culture, science,and technology, and events that have shaped world history. Since it isunlikely that all this information will be available electronically in thenext several years, reference librarians must be prepared to instruct us-ers in the best methods and techniques needed to tap into these valuableresources.</p><p>A related factor is the librarys dependence on older equipment whichmust be frequently retained to access special formats. Related to this isthe fact that existing integrated library systems often do not perform tomodern expectations. This situation is hampered by the slowness of li-brary technology providers to build robust new technologies for the li-brary marketplace. At least in the short term, guidance from reference</p><p>John H. Sandy is Head, Rodgers Library for Science and Engineering, University Li-braries, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487 (E-mail: jsandy@bama.ua.edu).</p><p>Science &amp; Technology Libraries, Vol. 27(3) 2007Available online at http://stl.haworthpress.com</p><p> 2007 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.doi:10.1300/J122v27n03_07 87</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>alga</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:52</p><p> 06 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p><p>mailto:jsandy@bama.ua.eduhttp://stl.haworthpress.com</p></li><li><p>librarians is essential for library users to gain some benefit from theselegacy systems.</p><p>Another major concern is what might be described as the gap in infor-mation literacy. This is not to disparage the information seeking skills oflibrary users, but rather to recognize that the information landscape is avery complex place and finding information requires an understanding ofthe principles of information science and application of well-thought-outtechniques and strategies. It is unrealistic to expect library users to be ab-solutely self-sufficient in gathering and exploiting information, whenmost of their time and energy is spent in learning, teaching, and creativepursuits.</p><p>Accelerated change is another factor that weighs in favor of more ref-erence assistance. One way to understand this is to observe practitionersin the field. Reference librarians generally have to invest enormousamounts of time keeping abreast of the proliferation of information andknowledge, as well as the wide variety of information providers andnew technologies used to find and deliver information. It is abundantlyclear why library users feel challenged when they choose to go it alone.</p><p>Therefore it is not surprising that reference librarians are constantlyseeking new ways to reach out to their constituencies. Developing auto-mated reference systems, Web page guides, and other instructionaltools takes a considerable amount of time and resources. And while ref-erence librarians have always been involved in creating tools to help us-ers, the new products of today take a much higher level of commitmentthan was the case in the past.</p><p>This expansion of services is driving reference to new heights, aswell. To stay relevant, libraries today are offering much more thanbooks. Shortly after the arrival of the PCs in the early 1980s, librariansand academic planners envisioned what some called the scholars work-station, a set-up which would give individuals everything needed to turnout the final product. As libraries move in this direction, more onsiteand remote reference help is needed to teach users how to gather infor-mation and synergistically exploit analytical tools and informationprocessing devices and software.</p><p>A final issue relates to greater accountability and leveraging value.Libraries are seeking a high return on their information investments.This is accomplished when users gain the information they need and re-search is done in a way that saves time and energy. Reference librariansare well positioned to bring library resources and library users togetherto achieve better results.</p><p>88 SCIENCE &amp; TECHNOLOGY LIBRARIES</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>alga</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:52</p><p> 06 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>A question begs asking, are reference librarians ready to meet thechallenges in this new information environment? Looking forward, theanswer depends on whether individuals can master and exploit moderntechnologies such as broadband telecommunications, Web-enablingsoftware including XML, Flash, JavaScript, and SQL, and an array ofnew mobile hardware devices which have the capability to convergedata, audio, and video. Further, the central role of reference librariansas capable managers of these and other technologies which can leadto beneficial value-added products and services for users cannot beoverlooked.</p><p>While virtual help is clearly in the ascendancy, personal referenceservice will continue to meet the needs of many users. More referencelibrarianswith well-honed information gathering skills, a firm grasp oftechnology, and a vision to grow serviceswill be needed to deliver amyriad of services in the new millennium.</p><p>Visions and Directions 89</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>alga</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:52</p><p> 06 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li></ul>