Monday, April 30, 2007

The future of reference

"At the University of California at Merced's library, there is no reference desk and there never has been. The way reference services are delivered there would intrigue some and disturb others.

Consider this example: On a recent weekend, a student asked Michelle Jacobs, one of Merced's librarians, how to get journal articles about child obesity for a political-science paper. Ms. Jacobs gave the student the information he wanted right away. For any reference librarian, this is business as usual — except that the student asked his reference question through a text message.

And Ms. Jacobs answered the question from her cellphone.

And when Ms. Jacobs answered the question, she was at a library conference in Baltimore, almost 3,000 miles from Merced. In fact, Ms. Jacobs regularly answers reference questions from her phone — she handled three that weekend in Baltimore.

It's all in a day's work for Ms. Jacobs. She fields questions through e-mail and instant messaging, and she has even reached out to students through Facebook, where she has her own page. She sat at the reference desk at other colleges before coming to Merced. She doesn't miss it."

Free Link:

The above link is to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education which has granted free access for a limited time.

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