The Ubiquity of Library through Reference Service: bridging the gap to the marginalized

OLADOKUN, Olugbade and ONE MONYATSI, Goitseone (2015) The Ubiquity of Library through Reference Service: bridging the gap to the marginalized. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session S12 - Satellite Meeting: Reference and Information Services. In: Satellit Meeting: Reference as service and place, 11-13 August 2015, Gaborone, Botswana.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


The Ubiquity of Library through Reference Service: bridging the gap to the marginalized

In the swift, modern, mobile and digital world, education and learning is no longer restricted to the confines of a limited environment. Open and distance learning (ODL) has become a trendy method of breaking down the insularity of the typical conventional system of education. In breaking down geographical barriers among nations of the world, ODL adds a new fillip to learning in the growing export of distance education from one country to the other, often referred to as cross-border or trans-national education. While distance teaching institutions take education to scattered people within a nation and in some cases, trans-nationally, the challenges to effectively and efficiently take the library to the ubiquitous students and meet their information needs remain. The traditional face-to-face and armchair system where the library only physically consults or is consulted within its own walls or even the confines of the institution, has no place in distance learning environment. The distance, cross-border and/or transnational education now increasingly in vogue portends the inconsequence of maintaining the status-quo. With allusion to some empirical studies and some visible practices, including the use of Question Point, in some institutions in Botswana, the paper believes that the information needs of dispersed and disadvantaged students may not have been met. Believing that information delayed is information denied, the paper notes that any tardiness (without due notice) in responding to queries of users defeats the purpose of reference service. It notes that the intervention of modern and accessible information and communication technologies in reference service would mark an effective and notable difference. The paper believes that reference service in the new information world does not necessarily have to be conducted face-to-face, as obtained in the traditional system, but remotely at a distance. It notes the instrumentality of the new technologies that have compelled the librarians and information professionals to re-define the optimal and convenient ways to promptly meet the information needs of not only the on-campus clientele, but also distant and off-campus patrons. With handheld mobile or portable devices such as smart (cell) phones, laptops, iPods etc., the paper hints at the application of instant messaging (IM), social media platforms, Skype, ooVoo, short message service (SMS), and blogs, among others, as usable devices in reference service. The paper strongly advocates that appropriate training be given to the librarians on effective and continuing adoption of emerging information and communication technologies that modern age offers in reference service.

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