The Reference Interview in the Google Age

CURRY, Evelyn L. (2016) The Reference Interview in the Google Age. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2016 – Columbus, OH – Connections. Collaboration. Community in Session 125 - Reference and Information Services.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1354
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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.

Abstract

The Reference Interview in the Google Age

This paper will examine the value of the “reference interview” in the technological age of Google. At a time when the “reference desk” has been pronounced “dead,” many public services librarians have watched in dismay the disappearance of the reference librarian’s place of prominence in the library world. Many special librarians – particularly in corporate and law environments-- have been replaced by web-based tools and reference as it was conceived in 1876 with Samuel Swett Green is no longer valued. While the death knell has been pronounced over reference, the reference interview (RI), the interaction that takes place between the librarian and the patron, is still the heart of library work. The whole notion of question-answering in the virtual and face-to-face environments is still as complex as ever. The “black box” is simply “more mysterious”. Bottom line: librarians across types of libraries must still find answers to questions for library patrons and teach them how to find answers. The paper examines the most recent RI practices over the past 10 years with the goal of providing a set of tools for the public services librarian to use to serve today’s technologically-savvy patron. Many of today’s users do not visit physical library facilities. The paper will further examine how reference librarians can use the interview to connect to wider audiences (traditional non-users) – especially underserved populations. If reference is to maintain its footing in the effective delivery of public services, the reference interview will need to play an important role in returning reference to its place of prominence in information work.

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