[Libs-Or] does Oregon need reference librarians?

Caleb Tucker-Raymond calebt at multcolib.org
Tue Oct 2 13:30:10 PDT 2012

Hi, everybody,

As seen on the Hack Library School blog,
http://hacklibschool.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/whither-reference/, some
library schools are no longer offering a standalone course in reference,
but instead making reference a smaller component of a larger course. The
rationale is that "reference is dead".

My first reaction was, "oh no! not again!"

But I'm interested to start a discussion here because what isn't mentioned
in this post is that the author is discussing Emporia State University,
which, through the Oregon cohorts of the School of Library and Information
Management, is our local library school.

I attended Emporia's most recent local graduation this past August, and I
got to hear some great speakers contemplate the future of libraries. In
addition, I recall that both our state librarian, MaryKay Dahlgreen, and
the then-president of the Oregon Library Association, Abigail Elder, also
talked about how grateful we all are here in Oregon to have a library
school bringing new professionals into our community. I'm grateful also.

Do we expect new professionals to begin their careers with knowledge of
reference services and sources?

To fuel my own curiosity, I looked at the past three months of OLA Jobline
announcements shared with this list. Of 55 descriptions for positions in
Oregon, 11 mentioned reference service specifically - 20%. I didn't get
into which of those required an MLS, but from looking at the titles, only
one is for "reference librarian":

Archivist for Collections Management, Eugene, OR
Information Resources and Instructional Librarian, Coos Bay, OR
Library Assistant/Branch Lead Worker, Beaverton, OR
Manager, Architecture and Allied Arts Library, Eugene, OR
Part-Time Librarian, Happy Valley, OR
Reference Assistant, Albany, OR
Reference Assistant, Tigard, OR
Reference Librarian, Grand Ronde, OR
Research/Catalog Librarian, Portland, OR
Special Collections Assoc., Portland, OR
Youth Services Associate, Prineville, OR

I'm interested in hearing your perspective!

Caleb Tucker-Raymond

Statewide Reference Service Coordinator
Multnomah County Library
(503) 988-5438
calebt at multco.us
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