In this information age, the exponential growth of information and the attendant influx of technology have implications for the role of reference librarian. The question of whether or not a reference librarian is still relevant is tantamount to asking whether or not man needs illumination in dark places. We believe that reference librarians are more relevant than ever in this information age.
- Personal assistance — Entering into a dialogue to determine users’ needs and ensure those needs are met. This could include term paper advising with a student or research consultation assistance with a faculty member
- Teaching — Helping users develop strategies for finding, evaluating, and using print and electronic resources, within the library and beyond, to achieve their goals
- Awareness — Disseminating curated information as a current awareness service to information seekers
- Directories and signs — Ensuring library users are able to locate the information and information services they require
- Verification — Determining whether a user’s information about a document (e.g., bibliographic citation) is correct and complete. This has become even more necessary as the quantity of papers expands and the risk of fraud rises
- A more prominent role for reference services, where the services provided are attractive, efficient, evaluated, marketed, integrated, professional, institutionalized, value-based and appropriate (Janes, 2003)
- A tiered reference service, where libraries are linked through collaborative arrangements to share reference responsibilities. Questions will be attempted at the local level, and if unanswered, may be routed to a system, consortial, national or even international level (Singh, 2004)
- Reference services offered from multiple, perhaps differentiated service points with a mix of media and technologies and use of networking and collaboration across administrative and professional lines (Bopp & Smith, 2001)
Bopp, Richard E. & Smith, Linda C. 2001. Reference and Information Services. Libraries Unlimited, Englewood. p.3.
“Guidelines for Information Services." July 2000. Reference and User Services Association, American Library Association. Available at http://www.ala.org/rusa/resources/guidelines/guidelinesinformation.
Ifidon, S.E. & Ifidon, E.I. 2008. Reference and Information Services in African Libraries. Ibadan, Spectrum Books Limited.
Janes, Joseph. 2003. "What is reference for?", Reference Services Review, Vol. 31 Iss: 1, pp.22-25.
Naisbitt, John. 1982. Megatrends, New York: Warner Books.
Nwalo, K.I.N. & Ohaegbu, G.A. 1997. Classification in Libraries, Archives and Information Centres. Unpublished.
Singh, Diljit. 2004. "Reference Services in the Digital Age." Paper presented at the Conference on Library Management in the 21st Century at Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines, 29-30 March 2004.
Wasik, Joann M. 1999. “Building and Maintaining Digital Reference Services.” ERIC Digest. Available at http://www.ericdigests.org/1999-4/digital.htm. Accessed March 12, 2004.