[Libs-Or] does Oregon need reference librarians?

Alan Cordle acordle at pcc.edu
Wed Oct 3 12:01:20 PDT 2012


Back in the day (I attended library school part-time between 1993 and
1996), we not only had the required reference class, but for my track, in
academic reference, I had a humanities reference course and one in the
social sciences as well. I could have taken one in the sciences, but
didn't. I can't remember what others were offered. The classes were
invaluable. Database-wise, we were limited to Dialog and maybe Lexis-Nexis
if I remember correctly.

But what I loved, especially in my humanities class, was writing
evaluations of print reference sources. I believe that library school
faculty could create similar assignments for specialized databases that
would serve students well.

Like Max, I believe that reference is best learned through experience. I
really valued the time I learned from mentors at the reference desks where
I've worked. I've also noticed that some newer librarians (is it
generational?) think they know it all because they can type a keyword into
a database. Good reference is about listening to patrons and observing


On Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 11:38 AM, Max Macias <mmacias at pcc.edu> wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> I had a reference class, and it was alright.
> However, I really learned reference while working.
> It would have been grand to have a reference internship--I think that
> would be the way to go for library schools.
> Max
> On Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 11:36 AM, Katie Anderson <
> katie.anderson at state.or.us> wrote:
>>  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, 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?
>>  Caleb,
>> 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.
>> Emily
>> On Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 10:01 AM, <
>> 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>
>>> To: "libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us"
>>>         <Libs-Or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>
>>> Subject: [Libs-Or] does Oregon need reference librarians?
>>> Message-ID:
>>>         <CAPO-dkfzY2W0vaQahXifEw=
>>> k4LiWFT+Xh6ojW8Kx_i_048cX3A at mail.gmail.com>
>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>>> 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
>>> www.oregonlibraries.net
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> --
> Max Macias
> TSS Training Team
> 971-722-8151
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