[Libs-Or] does Oregon need reference librarians?

Katie Anderson katie.anderson at state.or.us
Wed Oct 3 11:36:22 PDT 2012

Reference is alive and well in youth services! Children and teens might not remember the details of an assignment, be embarrassed about the topic they want to learn more about, or know how to describe what they need in a way that makes sense to others. On top of that, they have wildly different reading and comprehension levels. Knowing reference interview techniques is critical to learning what kids and teens really need and identifying their reading/listening level all while respecting their ability level and privacy.

Katie Anderson, Library Development Services
* Youth Services Consultant * Oregon Center for the Book Coordinator *
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528
From: libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us [libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] on behalf of Emily Ford [fordemily at gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 10:28 AM
To: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: [Libs-Or] does Oregon need reference librarians?

I'm so glad that you posted to Libs-Or about this. I wanted to but was hesitant.

I took a stand alone reference course in library school. Some of it seemed like busy work. But I go back to the I gained knowledge each time I get a tough reference question.

But what was the greatest learning experience I had with reference as a student was spending 6 months serving as a reference intern and then as an employee in the trenches of adult services at Monroe County Public Library in Bloomington, IN. Had I not had a course that covered the reference interview, reference transactions, etc, my first few months at the public library would have been awful. The course I took prepared with the theory, armed me with resources and techniques. Translating them into practice was fulfilling. How many students these days do reference internships? If they don't, how can a small portion of a class prepare them for a future job without course and/or reference "in the trenches" experiences?

My take: we do need reference librarians and reference is not dead. It looks completely different, but it still happens. Sure, lots of L-Net questions I answer are about library accounts, fines, etc and lots of questions I answer at the PSU Library desk deal with printing in our computer lab. But would I have been able to answer students questions about finding tests and measures or survey instruments without being a trained (in the classroom and in the trenches) reference librarian? Probably not.

Maybe the problem is not that reference is dead, but that the traditional reference course curriculum is. How could a full on reference course capture the breadth of "traditional" reference practices and also what's happening with new technologies, new questions, and new literacies? There must be a way.


On Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 10:01 AM, <libs-or-request at listsmart.osl.state.or.us<mailto:libs-or-request at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>> wrote:
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2012 13:30:10 -0700
From: Caleb Tucker-Raymond <calebt at multcolib.org<mailto:calebt at multcolib.org>>
To: "libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us<mailto:libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>"
        <Libs-Or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us<mailto:Libs-Or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>>
Subject: [Libs-Or] does Oregon need reference librarians?
        <CAPO-dkfzY2W0vaQahXifEw=k4LiWFT+Xh6ojW8Kx_i_048cX3A at mail.gmail.com<mailto:k4LiWFT%2BXh6ojW8Kx_i_048cX3A at mail.gmail.com>>
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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<tel:%28503%29%20988-5438>
calebt at multco.us<mailto:calebt at multco.us>

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