Monday, January 11, 2010

new ways to ask questions...

One of my first assignments this term is simply to shadow and observe a reference librarian for an hour or two, and write down my impressions of the reference interview. Working at a medical research library, I was looking forward to sitting at the desk and eaves-dropping on the interview, imagining what kind of crazy medical quarries I would be privy too.

I came, I saw, I was kinda bored.

That's not entirely true. I had a great conversation with the librarians about library school (he's an alumni of my program) his diverse experience (before becoming a librarian he worked for a video game development company) and librarianship in general (get us started and we go on and on and on....)

We just didn't have patrons come and ask us a question...in person.

We did receive a phone call, and the librarian was logged into the "chat with a librarian" and checked the general reference email. I was a bit frustrated, as I sat in during one of the busiest parts of the day - I was hoping for a little more action than what we got.

However, the hour wasn't a total loss - it did give me a chance to think about the future of information and information gathering behavior, making me wonder how we will be assisting information seekers in the future. As information dissemination becomes predominately digital, will librarians interact more and more with their computer screens? You can email with a librarian and chat with a librarian. There are companies currently developing programs that allow you to text a librarian from your cell phone. Maybe libraries should start a skype reference program....

In the next few days, I'll try the assignment again, and hope for better success, and maybe even recommend a revision to the assignment. After all the reference interview seems to be getting rarer and rarer, but there might be a future for the reference texting....

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